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Three writers discuss an author's identity

Posted February 20, 2014 in authenticity, author, difference, identity, passion

Welcome to our first cross-blog, which offers tips on writing genre fiction. Every month, Kathryn Ledson, Jennifer Scoullar and Sydney Smith will get together to discuss some aspect of the writing craft. These blogs will be concise, to allow room for discussion with our readers. We welcome your questions and comments; feel free to respond on this page.


Kathryn is the author of Rough Diamond and Monkey Business (Penguin), part of the Erica Jewell series of romantic adventures. You can visit her website


Jennifer is the author of Wasp Season (Sid Harta), and the romances,Brumby’s Run and Currawong Creek (Penguin), with Billabong Bend due for release by Penguin in May 2014. Jenifer’s novels are built around themes of nature and the environment. Check out her website


Sydney Smith is a writing mentor, teacher and author of short stories, essays, and The Lost Woman, a memoir of survival. She is currently writing The Architecture of Narrative, a book about how to plot and structure fiction. She offers writing tips at If you have a question on any aspect of writing, feel free to visit her blog.


This month’s topic for discussion is:


Romance is a huge genre. What do you advise writers to do to get their romance novel noticed by editors and readers?


Kathryn: VOICE gives an author’s work a unique flavour. Like a fingerprint, the writer’s voice, however similar it may sound to others, and however much others might mimic it, is pure and unique.

But without the writer’s PASSION, voice alone may be weak and bland. Passion breaks through the monotony of stories built on formula and shines a spotlight on that author’s work.

In novel writing, my passion for humour and action in stories emerges almost without my permission. As a young child I adored adventure stories, reading everything Enid Blyton and Elyne Mitchell could produce.

Through television and film I discovered my sense of humour. Even as a child I understood that irony (for me) is the funniest form of humour. So it’s not really a surprise that adventure and irony feature in my romance stories.

My character and her actions give them form, which in turn gives my voice its strength and individuality. And this ultimately gives me, the author, a distinctive identity.


Jennifer: I agree with Kathryn that a distinctive identity is important to any author, especially a genre author.

There are two aspects to this – one is voice, and the other is branding. Developing a unique voice is an organic process. It’s more than style, or vocabulary choice, or the decision to write in first or third person.  

It’s the authentic expression of you on the page – your feelings, dreams, passions and fears showing through in the words that you write. It takes courage to write so honestly, and not hide behind a derivative mask. But it’s worth it, because a truly original voice will always attract attention.

Branding is more strategic, but  it still evolves from who you are on the inside. An important aspect of my novels, for instance, is a passion for nature.

This became my brand, my point of difference, as my editor calls it. We all have a personal brand; it’s just a matter of recognising it.  Romance is a crowded marketplace. Your brand will make you stand out from the pack, help you market your writing and attract a readymade readership of people who identify with your particular sub-genre. 


Sydney: It's interesting that both of you identify passion as an essential ingredient.

Passion for the story you are writing, passion for your characters, your themes, passion for the things you want to communicate to readers about your concerns as writers – Jennifer for nature, and Kathryn who loves humour and adventure, which is as legitimate a concern as anything.

The writer’s passion speaks clearly to the reader and helps to get them involved in the story. Other things have to be there to hold the reader’s attention, but passion is as essential as technical skill.  


What do readers think? Do you like reading about certain themes? Or a certain kind of romance (adventure, comic, mystery? They come in so many hybrids.) What attracts you to a particular romance novel?

Comments (1 Comment)

It’s strange to see tignhs from far across the ocean, living in Greece as I do. Here there are no physical bookstores to which I can go that have any decent selection of English books, so for years I have depended on buying books online. I love wandering through bookstores and do so whenever I make a trip to the States, but if I can’t, books are still available I just have to plan ahead. Readers who must have books will adapt to whatever changes happen. And though electronic book sales will continue to grow, there will always be readers (like me) who want physical books to hold and will find a way to get them.One interesting thing about electronic sales, though. I considered having my son bring a Kindle over from the States for Christmas until I checked into the details. Here in Greece I have access to less than two thirds of the inventory available in the States. In addition, local taxes raise the prices of the e-books through the roof. For example, my short stories, which are priced at .99 each on Kindle, cost 3.44 (in US dollars) here in Greece because of the added on taxes. For international distribution I would say there are still some kinks in the distribution network. It put me off getting an electronic reading device, at least for the present.

Posted by Ainy on March 19, 2015

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