Interview with Laura Liller, author of His Hollywood Blonde
Today, for the sixth installment in my romance author interview series, I am delighted to feature romance author Laura Liller, author of His Hollywood Blonde. This lady has led quite the extraordinary life, and I think she’d be fun to sit down and talk with in person, don’t you? Thank you so much, Laura, for agreeing to chat about all things romance!
Tell us about yourself and your journey to becoming an author.
I am an artist by trade with degrees from The High School of Art & Design and F.I.T. in New York. By the time I could speak, I was drawing. People had always assumed I would pursue art as a career. Looking back I now realize it wasn’t the art I was drawn to but the stories that could be told through the medium. I was forever doodling cartoons and creating a world I wanted to live in. As an only child living with a single mom in a lower middle class Bronx neighborhood, I yearned for the picket fence. I wanted that pristine town without the dark shadows and noises of the elevated train trestle. I wanted a house with a backyard and traditional family. It represented safety. I created stories through art. I drew my stories. I did love to write, but never had the confidence in my ability to craft a story with words. But to use the old adage, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The answer is, “Practice.” I started writing in my forties and am still looking for ways to improve through practice. Writing is an exercise you have to keep up with.
Why do you love to write and/or read in the romance genre?
Is there a better genre than romance? I don’t believe there is. Every book and every genre—every facet of life is driven by romance or a romantic ideal. Throughout history wars have been fought for love. Ancient mythology is steeped in stories about love. For me there is no greater feeling than being in love. It is primal, chemical, and eternal. Simply put, romance and passion make me happy, and I read love stories for joy. Nothing bugs me more than that literary snob who apologizes for enjoying a juicy romance. When I was in my twenties, I shifted my reading focus to the genre. I found a good romance offered as much tension as a fast paced mystery, crime drama, or horror story. The more I read, the more scenarios crept into my own head, and I thought maybe I can do this.
In romance, I don’t believe the stories are about the “what.” It’s more about the “how.” Romance readers are savvy enough to know the outcome of a story. Even in a romantic mystery there are very few surprises. We know the conclusion. We love and read them to see HOW the story plays out, e.g. back to the sexy pirate/aristocrat. We know from page one who he really is and we follow along to see how the big ta-da plays out.
What are your favorite romance tropes to read and/or write, and why?
My favorite tropes are the tried and true usual ones. I’m a big believer in the “there are only seven stories” maxim. What I try to do is use the usual tropes, but spin them a bit so they don’t become cliché. I’m a huge time travel nut. I love the Cinderella, rags to riches premise. I enjoy a good love triangle. I also love the “bad boy.” I married one. I especially love a secret identity— the sexy pirate who is actually an aristocrat, or the nerd who can kick ass because he’s an undercover spy. I don’t suppose there are any reasons for my preferences. They are just what gets my motor running.
What is the best writing advice that you have ever received, or that you yourself have to share?
I joined a critique group when I first started writing. Hands down the best advice I was given was “kill your babies.” You have to sometimes let go of that great line or paragraph if it’s ruining the flow of the text. I strongly recommend being in a group. As a writer I know what I’m trying to say but if the reader doesn’t get it, I’m failing. A group of fellow writers giving their input is the best way to know if you’re getting it right or wrong. Never dig your heels in or get your back up over criticism. And never get childish about grammar. I frequently offer to beta read work in online groups and am amazed by how many novice writers cry “but that’s how I speak” when I point out the mistakes. While there is liberty in dialogue, the narrator has to know verb tense and punctuation. Every writer should own a copy of Strunk and White.
Tell us something surprising about yourself that no one would ever guess!
I am what I consider a young sixty-six. Given my age, I have groups of friends from different stages of my life. Because of social media I’ve been able to reconnect with many of my old friends. They are surprised at how generic and calm my suburban, homemaker, mom life became. Some are surprised I’m still alive. New friends would be surprised at how wild I was when I was young. Nothing about me surprises my current group of friends. My fifteen minutes of fame came in 1978 when I beat Cathy Moriarty in a local beauty contest. She went on to film the movie Raging Bull, and I went on to tend bar in clubs frequented by celebrities and the mob. Nightlife is a great source of material for novels.
What is the best book marketing advice you have ever received, or that you yourself have to share?
I find marketing to be a dilemma. It’s easier to author a book than promote it. I’ve been told to accumulate as many on-line writer friends as possible, but I find clicks and likes don’t always equal sales. I think hitting big is a crap-shoot. I’ve hired a book promoter, but never see my work promoted anywhere. I’m not saying who I hired is a scammer, but I think you get buried among the other clients. My older daughter is a partner in a very successful nightclub enterprise and after her upcoming wedding, she’s going to help promote my recently published book. She’s going to create a shot named after my book, His Hollywood Blonde. Merchandising will hopefully be the key.
Who is your favorite character that you yourself have ever written, and why?
My favorite character is Eric Laine. He was my first romance hero, and I based him on my husband. Eric is a bad boy, rough around the edges, and beyond beautiful. He’s flawed but also heroic. He was my Cinderella, Rags to Riches guy. After he loses his love, he becomes rich and famous (I know, big cliché there and done fifty times in Hallmark movies) but he’s never able to forget the girl he lost. I don’t think there is anything more appealing in a romance than a man who wants one woman and only one woman. I think we all want to be the girl who can’t be forgotten.
Are there any other writers who have influenced your own writing, or whose books are comparable to your own?
My favorite author is Kathleen Woodiwiss. She inspired my love of romance novels. She wrote the big story, plot rich, and with lots of descriptions. Another favorite of mine is Lavyrle Spencer. Both of these esteemed authors didn’t just write, they transported their readers to a time and place. I’m a bitch when it comes to lazy writing and want to know that an author did the work and researched the history and setting. These ladies did that. Unfortunately, novice writers have a hard time selling the big novel. Publishers want shorter books to save on the printing, and the few brick and mortar stores that are still alive want books that don’t take up a lot of shelf space. I pen both historical and contemporary romances set primarily in the world of high society, so I’m a little Jackie Collins mixed with Diana Gabaldon. At least in my mind that’s who I am.
Tell us about your latest work(s).
Just this morning, I got an e-mail from my editor at The Wild Rose Press saying they are going ahead with the sequel to my last book His Hollywood Blonde. It was originally a doorstop of a novel I wrote when I was in my forties. I’d gotten my first computer and clicked away like a crazy person. I was the little engine that couldn’t. No one wanted an eight-hundred page, single spaced book about a millennial pop star. Go figure. I set the book aside, joined a writer’s group, and listened carefully till I learned how to write. The book is now a two-part series about the rise and fall of a singer/actress. She’s assaulted by her husband’s friend, gets pregnant, and leaves fame behind to protect her child. The sequel, Her Leading Man, takes place ten years later, and the male MC is now a star. He’s getting divorced from his second wife (my version of Maleficent) and desperate to find his true love, the former pop star. All the tropes are in this one including a secret baby. Did I mention I really love the tropes?
Where can we connect with you and buy your books?
I currently do not have a website. I’m on Instagram and Facebook (as Laura Liller Kracht) as well as on The Wild Rose Press website. I have three self-published books on Amazon’s KDP. His Hollywood Blonde is available on all the e-forums and in hard copy on Amazon, B&N, Walmart, and others.
This link will lead to the book and from there my Amazon author’s page where you can find my self published books: His Hollywood Blonde (The Price of Fame): Liller, Laura: 9781509246885: Amazon.com: Books
I’m also on Goodreads.
Thank you again so much, Laura Liller, for sharing your fascinating self and your insights on the romance genre with us! Next up for our seventh romance author interview: Kimber Delaney, author of A Soldier’s Heart series!