Ever wondered who is behind a romance novel? Merline Lovelace caught our eye because she is simply the most wonderfully named romance author on the block – although we also liked the sound of Shirley Jump (author of The Virgin's Proposal), Beverly Bird (author of Ten Ways to Win Her Man), and Candace Camp (author of Smooth Talking Texan).
Merline, an American, had a remarkable life before turning to romance writing. She spent 23 years in the US Air Force and reached the rank of colonel, serving around the world, including Vietnam.
Men and women in uniform, travel, danger... surely, Merline has a lifetime of inspiration for stories about love, seduction and passion. Today, she is a prolific writer with more than 70 published books, including titles like The Cowboy and the Cossack, The Colonel's Daughter, and Diamonds Can Be Deadly.
Abe - What attracted you to romance writing?
ML - "There's enough tragedy and grim reality in the news every day. When I read for entertainment, I want good guys to win, the cops to nail the killer, and the girl to get her guy. So when I decided to try my hand at writing, those were the kind of books I wanted to write."
Abe - Do you always follow a strict formula?
ML - "The hero and heroine generally end up together in my books. Other than that, anything goes! That's why I enjoy writing romances. They allow me to indulge such a wide range of interests, writing styles and voices. I've done shoot 'em up contemporary thrillers, historical novels set in every era from ancient Egypt to WWII, paranormals, ghost stories, time travels - whatever struck my fancy."
Abe - What's the greatest skill required by a romance author?
"Every romance novel contains two distinct story lines - the action or historical or mystery tale, and the saga of a passionate relationship. Romance authors have to blend those two elements into a seamless whole. That takes incredible skill."
Abe - Do you get annoyed at critics of romance novels?
ML - "Nah. Most of them have never read a romance and I don't let such ignorance bother me."
Abe - Are you influenced by classic authors like Jane Austen, Hardy or the Brontes?
ML - "Very much. Their works raise characterization to a fine art. I'm probably more influenced by the classic myths, however, as I believe they form the basis of all story-telling. I've just about worn out my copies of Bullfinch's Mythology and Cavendish's Legends of the World."
Abe - Being an air force officer or a romance writer - what's better?
"Tough question. As a military officer, I was proud as heck to wear the uniform of my country and always knew I was part of something really important. I also loved being in command!
"Writing romances gives me a completely different sort of satisfaction. I get to lose myself in other times or cultures and take down all the bad guys. I also get to travel to exotic locations all over the world to research my books. Life is good!"