4 Things You Didn't Know About Romance Novelists


A peek into the life of one of the most successful romance novelists, Nora Roberts.

We remember being young, hanging at our grandmother's house and seeing this brown cardboard box being passed around. The mystery box was teeming with paperback romance novels, the pages of which had been made thick from massive page turning and dog earing. She'd read her way to the bottom of the box, and then trade books with a friend. With relish, she'd start again on a new stack of inky steaminess.

Occasionally, a book with its riveting cover (usually a brawny man cloaking a windswept woman with his bulging muscles, the two looking as if they'd just survived a tornado or fire or some other catastrophe) would be left on the coffee table. She was just one of a loyal throng of romance-novel readers still reading strong.

When we recently spotted a day-in-the-life profileby Lauren Collins in The New Yorker about none other than Nora Roberts, one of the most successful romance novelists of all time, we were thrilled to have a glimpse into the life of a romance novelist, this woman who tirelessly creates sultry and surprising characters, from the race-car driver to the commercial fisherman or marketing executive, who types out love scenes with seeming ease and unfathomable speed. Here, some interesting tid-bits discovered in Collins' profile.  

1. There's no shortage of romance scenes in that head of hers. Nora Roberts has an extremely high output of romance novels. Collins reports that Roberts has written 182 novels (and counting). Each year she can be expected to produce five new romance novels, two installments of a paperback trilogy, one hard-cover romance novel over the summer and two police thrillers under the pen name J.D. Robb. We are amazed that she does not have carpal tunnel syndrome!

2. Romance provides quite a living. Collins writes that it was estimated in 2004 by Forbes magazine that Nora Roberts made $60 million that year (at the time, it was more than Stephen King.)

3. She knows how to balance romance with responsibility. Roberts, a self-taught writer, had young children when she started out jotting down steamy tales of happy-ending love. She could be found working on books as it fit into her schedule, this often meant "in the car-pool line" or "at the dentist's office," writes Collins. Romance Enhancement Parties

4. She's a practical sort of romantic. Nora Roberts lives in a log house, is said to enjoy routine and be a romantic of the more practical sort. Collins reports that Roberts awakes at 6AM, is sitting at her computer in her log cabin by 8:00a.m. and writes for six to eight hours a day "fueling herself with Winston Filter 100s, Cheez-Its and Diet Pepsi," writes Collins. How Roberts met her husband, Bruce Wilder, does sound rather romantic, we must say, in that unexpected kind of way. The two met when he arrived at her home to build some bookshelves.