Georgia Hill : Darker Elements of Romance

The Romantic Novelists’ Association are celebrating their 60th anniversary this year and I’m delighted to welcome Georgia Hill onto the blog to talk about her latest novel and how this tie in with romantic suspense.

Romance and romantic suspense comes in many forms, not just the hearts and flowers relationships but the toxic and damaging ones too, how would you describe the romance included within your novels?

I’m primarily a romance writer rather than a romantic suspense novelist but I’ve written about all sorts of relationships, including one in The Little Book Caféwhich was abusive. It was inspired by a storyline in, of all things, The Archers. Like many I was drawn in by the compulsive saga of Helen and Rob. It aired about the time coercive control was recognised as an offence and I became fascinated. When people do terrible things in the name of love it’s truly horrifying. If you asked Adrian in The Little Book Café  why he was being so abusive to Tash, he’d be astonished. He truly believed he loved her.  I’ve been in a relationship which, looking back, had a certain amount of coercive control and extrapolated from that. My editor was shocked when she read it, claiming it was a little darker than my usual stuff. Don’t write off romance novels as being light and fluffy! I loved writing Adrian because he was so vile but I refuse to say who he was based on. Readers said I got it right which was a relief. It’s a responsibility when writing about issues like that. Most of the romantic relationships I write about are far healthier. A common theme is people finding that, as a couple, they are stronger together than as an individual. I’m a firm believer that, with the right person, you can go on to be the better version of yourself, that they complete you.

Is it as straightforward as calling it romance?

I’m not sure there’s anything straightforward about romance – or about romance novels. Messy, frustrating, accompanied by a whole airport carousel of emotional baggage. I always write a happy ending though. However much I make my characters suffer (poor Charity in my latest book On a Falling Tidesuffered terribly!) I will give them their happy ending, or at least hint that there will be one. The world is too miserable and uncertain at the moment to cope with a devastating ending to a book as well. My novels are aimed at those who want to escape.

What is it about romantic suspense that draws you to write it or include it in your books?

I didn’t think I wrote romantic suspense but the first part of The Little Book Café certainly had elements and On a Falling Tidehas lots. In The Little Book CaféTash attempts to escape Adrian. While writing it, I had the Mary Stewart classic novel, Madam, Will You Talk?in my head. She was a master in the art of romantic suspense and wrote a fabulous, exhausting-to-read chase sequence in that book. Edge of the seat stuff. I think the draw, whether reading or writing romantic suspense, are the questions, ‘What’s going to happen next? How will the characters get out of the peril they find themselves in?’ In order to make your reader read on, you have to create characters they really care about and they believe in.

What sort of balance between the romance element and the suspense element do you have?

I’m a romance writer first but I like to play with the genre. I can’t resist putting in some suspense or a little spookiness. The beauty and fun of the romance genre is that it’s all-encompassing.

Do you come up against any regular misconceptions about the genre and how do you dispel these?

The usual, ‘It’s all Mills and Boon.’ I only wish I could write a Mills and Boon, I’d love to write for them! Then there’s, ‘Oh you write Fifty Shades stuff?’ I’ve also been on the receiving end of, ‘When are you going to write a proper book?’ The implication being a romance novel isn’t. Nowadays that makes me laugh. You develop a thick skin by being a romance writer. I just tell them, even though my books aren’t real, the royalties pay the bills nicely thank you and change the subject!

Blurb

Two women. Connected by heartbreak, separated in time. Can Charity save the man she loves, or will Lydia’s vengeful spirit prove too strong?

Two haunting love stories and a hundred and fifty-year-old curse…

When the beloved grandfather who brought her up dies, Charity is left struggling to cope. Alone and rootless, she’s drawn to the sleepy fishing village of Beaumouth near Lyme Regis and begins to research her family tree.

A chance encounter with attractive boat-builder Matt sparks a chain of mysterious and unsettling events and leads Charity to uncover the story of a young girl who lived in the village over a hundred years before.

In 1863 all Lydia Pavey wants to do is follow in Mary Anning’s footsteps and become a ‘fossilist.’ Instead, she is being forced into marriage to a man she barely knows.

Charity’s obsession with Lydia becomes all-consuming and she risks losing everything. With a longed-for family tantalisingly in reach, will Charity find the happy ever after she’s yearned for and, most importantly, can she save the man she loves?

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