This week for Writers on Wednesday we have a Q&A with Renee Dahlia author of new release The Shipwrecked Earl’s Bride
Renée Dahlia is an unabashed romance reader who loves feisty women and strong, clever men. Her books reflect this, with a side note of awkward humour.
1.What was the inspiration for your current novel, The Shipwrecked Earl’s Bride?
Our family booked a trip to Italy last year but had to cancel due to the pandemic. It was a frustrating process, as we’d saved up for a couple of years for the trip, and didn’t end up getting refunds until months after the trip was cancelled. This novella came from a need to do some travelling! I imagined an Earl on his way home from a Grand Tour getting shipwrecked on a Spanish beach, and it just fell into place from there.
2. Why do you write in the genre you do?
I write both historical and contemporary romances, across a range of heat levels and pairings. Why? Because I write to entertain myself and I don’t like feeling restricted to one time period or place. My ideas are often chaotic before they become books. They come from little pieces of conversations that I overhear, or non-fiction that I’m reading, and a whole bunch of other places. I keep all the ideas in a big file and let them kind of roll around for a while until they form enough of a story to become a book. All my books are listed on my website with heat levels and pairing type.
3. When did you take up writing?
My first book, To Charm a Bluestocking, was published in 2017. I’ve written non-fiction for about a decade prior to that, mostly magazine articles. Oddly, I didn’t want to be a writer when I left school, and studied science instead. I fell into writing almost accidentally when I was asked to write a series of articles that explained statistical results to non-mathematicians.
4. How important is setting/place in your writing?
Not very! Description is my least favourite part of writing. My first drafts are mostly dialogue with a few notes, and I add the descriptions later.
5. Do you have a favourite character (s) in your current novel?
I’m fickle! My favourite is always the one I’m writing right now! In my novella, The Shipwrecked Earl’s Bride, the heroine Sofia is a Spanish fisherman’s daughter who has taught herself to read English from books washed up on their beach. Her family supplement their income with things they find from shipwrecks, and they dismiss her need for reading. Reading shows her the world, and when Rupert washes up on her beach, she takes the chance to leave. When I first started to write, I imagined her as quite aspirational, but as I wrote, she turned out to be more empathetic and unsure about the decision to leave.
6. What’s the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?
Read a lot. Read in the genre you want to write in, so you understand what readers love about it, and better yet, write the genre that you love to read because then that understanding comes naturally.
7. Do you have a schedule for writing?
Yes. I have a spreadsheet that I’ve designed that tracks both my daily word count and my writing schedule by book.
8. Are you a plotter or someone who tends to wing it?
Somewhere in the middle. I like to have a good idea of where I’m going, so I set out the book’s basic plot with a few one liners that indicate the emotional arc for the two characters, then I just let the dialogue go where it feels natural. Sometimes I end up in places that I didn’t intend, and have to adjust either the dialogue or the vague plot notes, but that doesn’t happen often.
9. Can you name three of four of your current favourite books?
I’ve just finished reading Talia Hibbert’s Brown sisters series which is really adorable. My favourite historical novels are Olivia Waite’s The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics and Courtney Milan’s Duchess War. I adore Alexis Hall’s writing – the characterisation in Glitterland is outstanding. How can anyone pick just four books?
10. Can you tell me a little bit about what you are working on now?
I’m currently writing a medium heat contemporary lesbian romance series set in a Burlesque club in London.
11. What advice would you give to a fledgling writer to assist them on
Read and write. Practice will make you better.
The Shipwrecked Earl’s Bride
LORD RUPERT STANMORE was banished to the continent for a grand tour after being caught kissing his best friend, Lord Benburgh. Two years later and life back in England has caught up to him. His father died recently and now he’s the latest Earl of Stanmore. On the way home, his ship is wrecked in a storm, and he washes up on a beach in Spain, only to be rescued by a beautiful woman. As the Earl, he has an obligation to marry. He’d rather be hung for sodomy than allow his mother to choose his bride, and who better to annoy his proper and distant mother than a poor foreigner as a bride? He plots for Sofia to fall in love with him, not expecting to fall for her.
SOFIA LUCIANA RIAL is the only daughter of a fisherman in Spain. She taught herself to read English from books washed up on their beach, a skill her widowed Father sees as pointless. In his opinions, she should spend all, not most, of her time doing domestic work. When a man washes up on the beach near their cottage, she realises he might be her ticket out of poverty. She sets about to make him fall in love with her so he can take her to England where she will never again have to worry about where her next meal will come from. Only her plan fails when she falls in love with him. But how can she convince him that her love is real?