With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I thought it’d be a great time to interview my fabulous editor, Aimee Friedman, for the Apocalypsies blog. Not only is Aimee a Senior Editor at Scholastic, but she is also an author of books for teens – all with romantic themes. Thank you Aimee for sharing your thoughts with us!
How important is setting in a romantic novel? What is your favorite setting from one of your books and how did it help your novel?
Setting can really help enhance a novel’s romantic tone and background, but it won’t make or break it. It’s ultimately about the characters, and how they banter and flirt and engage —if the love story between these two people jumps off the pages, it shouldn’t matter if they’re kissing in Paris or in the parking lot of a Dunkin Donuts. However, in the case of my book, Sea Change, the setting—a fictitious, mysterious island off the coast of Georgia-was almost like another character. I wanted the romance in that book to blossom quickly in part because of the dramatic setting—misty beaches, Spanish moss, the dark, unknowable ocean.
As an editor, are there any “taboo” things that writers of romance or romantic scenes should avoid, like things you see too frequently, or things that just don’t seem to work?
I’m a sucker for a good romance—I think most readers are. A romance doesn’t work for me when I’m not invested in the characters, when either or both of the parties aren’t fully fleshed-out or developed, but instead come off as flat vehicles for the plot. My heart isn’t going to race if the romantic hero isn’t witty and smart—if he’s just handsome, that’s not enough—and I’m not going to root for the heroine if I don’t have a strong sense of her and what makes her tick. I’d advise authors to really make sure your characters are fully rounded before they fall in love---so we can see why they love each other!
My book, THE BOY PROJECT, has a romantic theme, but it’s light and humorous. What do humor writers need to remember when they are combining humor with romance?
I definitely think humor and romance can go together, but it’s important to let the romantic moments have their due, and not allow the humor to completely override any potential swooning. I think THE BOY PROJECT does a terrific job of weaving in hilarious, relatable moments while also giving us a couple brief but very resonant scenes of early romance! I think the key is to let the protagonist endure her share of funny foibles, but in the end, let’s see her win that kiss from the great guy in a pure, unironic way.
Are there any types of books, romantic or otherwise, that you are hoping to acquire this year?
I would love a great, romantic historical novel, either YA or MG. It’s very challenging to get historical fiction to read as fresh, sexy, and relevant for today’s readers. I think Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle Trilogy does a wonderful job of this, for example. It would be great fun to get something sweeping and dramatic, with lots of luxurious gowns and treacherous plotting and stolen kisses.
Thanks for all of the insights into writing and acquiring romances! I want to leave our readers with a positive word about publishing, because it seems like we hear a lot of bad news about the industry these days. Can you share something that you see as positive about publishing today?
I think children’s publishing in particular is having something of a golden age right now. The Hunger Games is probably the biggest, zeitgeisty book of the moment, and it’s YA (you could argue that two other biggest books of the last 10 or so years were Harry Potter and Twilight—also kidlit). There is such a wealth of wonderful novels out there now for YA and MG readers. As a result, the marketplace is more crowded than ever, which is challenging for authors, especially in the wake of Border’s dissolution and Amazon’s dominance. But the creative opportunities are there, and most of all, the passionate, devoted readers are there. With the advent of Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads and more, there are so many chances for readers of kidlit to really share their enthusiasm and generate even more love for books and reading. It’s exciting to be a part of it all.
The Apocalypsies are definitely excited to be a part of it! I love the way you said that! With so many great children's books out there, and more coming out this year, it does seem like a golden age. Thank you, Aimee, for joining us!
Post by Kami Kinard
Kami Kinard's debut novel, The Boy Project, was published in January 2012 by Scholastic. Aimee Friedman is her editor.