Olivia Norem is an author that is giving us a taste of throwback romance in her writing. The cover of her debut novel, His Viking Bride, gives you that worn paperback feeling we don’t see very often these days. The swooped letters in the title, the cover model laying despondent – it’s clear that Olivia wants to bring a sentimentality back to romance writing.
Read on as the author talks with me about the Shakespeare play that influenced His Viking Bride, her literary influences, and why deleting three hundred words from a manuscript is a good thing!
Hi, thanks for agreeing to this interview. In a few sentences, tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a Florida transplant girl, via Chicago. However, that was so many years ago that I consider myself ‘native’. I’m a former corporate exec who is well-travelled and always manages to turn each day into an adventure. Some I can talk about; most are in my memoirs, only to be opened after I’m dead *wink*.
I collect fantastic conversation and wit. I have a passion for love, wine, cigars, and cats – not necessarily in that order. I absolutely detest political correctness. I’m very old-school when it comes to manners and being honest about how you feel – with politeness, of course.
How long have you been writing?
Oooh, do I really have to admit exactly how many years, darling? I’ve been writing since I was six. I published short stories and poetry at fourteen. Life and career got in the way, though. I spent many years in marketing and advertising. I became very tired of writing technical proposals and ‘value proposition’ marketing pieces. About a year ago, I left corporate life and decided it was my time to do this.
Why did you decide to become a writer?
I was fortunate enough to be encouraged very early by my high school creative writing teacher. At fourteen, he said to me, “Don’t deny yourself this. You’re a writer.”
Tell us about your latest project.
His Viking Bride is my debut historical romance novel. This will be released on September 29th, 2016. I decided to take on two challenges with this work. The first was to set a ‘steamy’ romance in the worse possible conditions: the frozen winter of Norway. Could I get any further removed from my subtropical Florida climate? The second was to do an ode to William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.
Who is your ideal reader?
My ideal reader is anyone who favors alpha male and female characters. My readers enjoy plots with plenty of action and situations laced with humor. A well-read reader who wants to be entertained, teased, and feel really good when they finish one of my books. (Personally, I don’t care for damaged people. I prefer strong people who overcome impossible odds.)
~I absolutely detest political correctness.~
How do you create your characters and build your worlds? Are you a planner or a pantser?
Well, Eliza, how much time do we have? I am a planner regarding characters, but I’d say I use more of a punster ‘spaghetti bowl’ approach to the actual story. I write scenes in a non-linear fashion, usually starting with a strong male (Yes, I love men.). I think about his mannerisms and hobbies: What cologne would he wear? What is his favorite swear word? How does he react in certain situations? What food does he like/dislike? Does he have any quirks? What would his iTunes include? How would he react in a bar fight? What’s his favorite drink?
Then I think about what he looks like. I repeat the same thing for my female characters. I believe in adding in supporting characters with very distinct traits (i.e. mischievous, cruel, love them, hate them, etc.)
Building worlds, scenes, and settings are very important to me. As writers, we are devoted observers and astute listeners. I love detail and draw upon not only my own experiences, but mix them with my imagination. After that, the characters tell their stories. Many times, I’m just the recorder of their actions. I cannot admit how many times I’ve uttered “Hey, I didn’t know you were going to do that.”
Who do you consider your literary influences?
This is a wonderful question. I’ve been a voracious reader my entire life, beginning with Beverly Cleary and Shel Silverstein. Later, I discovered J.R.R.Tolkein, Hemingway, Kathleen Woodiwiss, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Kahlil Gibran, Leonard Cohen, Salman Rushdie, Stephen Lawhead, Pablo Neruda, Homer, and Robert Burns. As you can see, I’m all over the place.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Keeping your butt in the chair, seriously. Writing, like any creative activity, requires hard work and long hours of solitude. Imagine someone volunteering for solitary confinement? Ha! However, I do not suffer from writer’s block. Ever. I suffer from the opposite. I have so many things to accomplish, I just hope I have enough years left to finish them all.
Name three of your best writing tips.
- Describe the scene better than if you were there.
- If you haven’t moved the plot or character along in three hundred words, delete it.
- Don’t fall in love with your own prose.
What are you working on now?
All of these projects are in various stages of editing and completion. You will see a very aggressive publishing schedule from me in 2017.
- The Brothers Injustice – fictional three-part Western series
- Highland’s Curse (working title) – paranormal time-travel romance
- Highland’s Ghost (working title) – paranormal romance
- Two Doms and a Lady (working title) – erotic fiction
- The Patron – erotic fiction
- The Last Man of Honor – biography (A very exciting project!)
- Aftermath of Five – fiction
- Wicked Wicked Days – erotic fiction series
- Wicked Wicked Wilderness – erotic fiction series
What are you currently reading?
- Grace Goodwin – I can’t seem to get enough of her dominant aliens.
- Norman Mailer’s Ancient Evenings
- Carl Hiaasen’s Double Whammy
- Stephen Lawhead’s Hood
- Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward Angel
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Read, read, and then read some more. Learn impeccable grammar and spelling. Develop a taste for fine wine and really good vodka. Then go out and live! Take a lover, dance, sing, and explore. Remember this: If your life was a book, would anyone want to read it?
Thanks for joining us. Readers, feel free to stalk this sexy author at the following links:
Website & Blog: https://www.olivianorem.com