Last year, I met Roni Loren on Twitter and immediately fell in love with her blog and her voice. At the time, Roni published two different types of blogs – one for writers and one for her brand. You see, Roni is a romance writer and to attract us to her style and words, she publishes a Boyfriend of the Week post every Tuesday containing drool-worthy and day-dreamy photos of hot, hot guys (mostly celebrities).
Roni has been writing romance novels since the age of fifteen, when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. Though she’ll forever be a New Orleans girl at heart, she now lives in Dallas with her husband and son — funny story: her husband used to live in my home town and was my brother’s boss — small world.
Since the inception of our cyberspace friendship, I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Roni in person. She is just as delightful in “real” life as she is online. She isn’t afraid to help the rest of us struggling to get our first work out, and she has the pop culture knowledge for those days when we just need a break and want to talk TV and movies (and many of you know, for me, this is all the time).
Roni debuted her erotic romance novel, Crash Into You, earlier this year. How about a tease (pun intended!)?
Crash Into You:
Brynn LeBreck has dedicated herself to helping women in crisis, but she never imagined how personal her work would get, or where it would take her. Her younger sister is missing, suspected to be hiding from cops and criminals alike at a highly secretive BDSM retreat—a place where the elite escape to play out their most extreme sexual fantasies. To find her Brynn must go undercover as a sexual submissive. Unfortunately, The Ranch is invitation only. And the one Master who can get her in is from the darkest corner of Brynn’s past.
Brynn knows what attorney Reid Jamison is like once he is stripped of his conservative suit and tie. Years ago she left herself vulnerable only to have him crush her heart. Now she needs him again. Back on top. And he’s all too willing to engage. But as their primal desires and old wounds are exposed, the sexual games escalate—and so does the danger. Their hearts aren’t the only things at risk. Someone else is watching, playing by his own rules. And his game could be murder.
When you were a little girl, did you dream of one day writing a bestseller, or did you have something else in mind?
I always loved to read, but in 5th grade my teacher started reading a chapter of A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle to us every day. That was way too slow for me, so I went to the library and proceeded to read all the books in the series. I remember thinking then that it’d be really cool to be a writer.
But I didn’t think about it seriously again until I was in high school. I wrote a novel at 15 (that was basically really crappy New Kids on the Block fan fiction), but that gave me the bug. I went to college as a double major in English and Psychology, but ended up being overwhelmed with two majors. So I dropped the English to be more “practical.”
I wrote here and there while I was building my social work career, but didn’t get serious about it until I had a baby and became a stay at home mom. That’s when I finally decided–okay, let’s do this. A little over three years later, here I am. : ) Took a while to get here, but I kind of always knew it was where I wanted to be.
Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?
I honestly find inspiration everywhere. It can be something really small that sparks a book idea. For CRASH, I pulled from my former life as a social worker and research I did in college. For STILL INTO YOU (coming June 2012), I was inspired by, of all things, a Reba McEntire song. For MELT INTO YOU (coming July 2012), I actually got an idea when I saw a commercial for the Dr. Phil show. The story question that came to me: What would happen if America’s leading relationship expert was really gay? Would he fake a marriage to be accepted as an expert by the mainstream? My heroine in MELT ends up engaged to her gay best friend who is trying to get a TV deal for his relationship show.
So you never know when inspiration will hit. : )
Who are a few of your favorite authors?
In my genre, I love Maya Banks, Lauren Dane, Shayla Black, Lorelei James, Joey W. Hill, and Jaci Burton. The list can go on and on. : )
The cover art for your book is super sexy. Did you design it yourself?
Lol, definitely not. I have zero talent when it comes to design. Berkley asked me to give them an idea of what I’d like and had me send character descriptions and inspiration pics. All I told them was that I’d love a couple in the rain because a pivotal scene happens in the rain. Then voila, the talented art department sends back this gorgeous cover. Berkley does some of the best covers. It’s actually one of the reasons why they were at the top of my list when my agent was submitting my manuscript to publishers.
Many writers imagine a celebrity or familiar face when developing their characters. Did you have anyone particular in mind when writing Brynn and why?
I honestly didn’t have a clear picture of Brynn at the start. The hero is usually clearer because I often pick celebrities for inspiration early on for the hero. But when I sent in my pics for Brynn to the art department, I used a dressed-down, make-up free Scarlett Johanssen. It’s not *exactly* how I picture Brynn but that’s the closest I could find.
Speaking of celebrities, who are you thinking of at this very moment?
Country singer Blake Shelton is constantly in my brain these days because I’m wrapping up the draft of Book 3 and he’s the visual inspiration for my cowboy hero. : )
Besides writing, what other hobbies do you enjoy?
I love to cook and have a bit of a cookbook addiction (like two full bookcases worth of them). I also love live music, so the hubs and I go to lots of concerts.
You’re an LSU grad (sorry about the National Championship; I was yelling for your team!) and the city of New Orleans holds a special place in your heart. What is your favorite restaurant and attraction in The Big Easy?
Let’s not speak of the National Championship. My household is still in mourning. And I do love New Orleans since it’s my hometown. Hard to pick a favorite restaurant because there are so many good ones. The food really is its own attraction. But anytime I go home I must have these things at least once: boiled seafood (preferably crabs), a fried shrimp poboy, a muffaletta, and beignets.
I wouldn’t be myself without asking about television – what are your four favorite television programs airing today?
Top Chef, True Blood, American Idol, and Vampire Diaries. Two Broke Girls and New Girl are also moving up the list.
I know you love the reality TV like me, particularly Big Brother. Which season and houseguest is your favorite of all-time?
I was a big fan of Evil Dick during his original season. Also liked Janelle. And who could hate Jordan, she was so darn sweet.
What is your favorite movie?
Dirty Dancing – I think that’s the movie that planted the seed that eventually grew into me becoming a romance writer.
What snacks do you order when at a movie theater?
We usually go to a theater that serves full meals and drinks, so I usually get pizza or chips and queso. Though the last movie I saw, I just had a martini, lol.
Lastly, I know I’m not alone when I say that I love your Boyfriend of the Week blog series. Who has been the most and least popular “boyfriend” with the readers and were you surprised by the feedback?
Surprisingly, the one that still gets the most hits is Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue. I still get like 100 hits a week on that one and it’s an old post. As for least popular, it’s usually the lesser known people–guys that are models and not actors or new to the acting scene.
Isn’t she the best? She writes romance, she’s a fan of college football to the point of real fandom levels, she shares the love with hair-band members from the ‘80s in her Boyfriend of the Week posts, and she’s not afraid to admit she watches reality TV — Roni is an all-around great girl.
Do you have a question for Roni? Have you read Crash Into You yet? Are there any other New Kids on the Block fans out there who’d like to join Roni and me in celebrating one of the best bands of our childhood? Which New Kid did you crush on? I’d love to hear from you!
For those of you lucky enough to be around the DFW, Chicago, and Anaheim areas, take a look at Roni’s upcoming appearances for your chance to meet her!
Texas Two-Step Conference (3/30-4/1) – Book signing and on a panel with agent Sara Megibow
DFW Con (5/19-5/20) – Presenting two workshops: one on love scenes and another on querying
**I’ve taken Roni’s querying workshop at a local writer’s group and it is FANTASTIC. I highly recommend…
Romantic Times Convention (Chicago, IL) April – Book signing
RWA Nationals (Anaheim, CA) July – Book signing, on two workshop panels (tbd)
For more info on any of these, visit the events page on her website.