Interview with Manybooks: Writing 21st Century Romance
When Kilby Blades looks at her peer group, she sees dating disasters, relationship problems, and divorce. This made her want to tell the truth about what love and romance really looks like for high-achieving people and Snapdragon was born. A romance novel unlike any other, where two people are in a relationship that could be defined on its own terms rather that following the formulaic path: "first comes love, then comes marriage..." As our Author of the Day, Blades tells us all about the book and how she made it into the top 5 in romance and top 35 across genres.
Please give us a short introduction to what Snapdragon is about.
Darby and Michael are high-profile, career-driven thirtysomethings, each on the brink of greatness in their fields. They have each (reasonably) concluded that marriage, children, and other culprits that often derail illustrious careers are out of the question. On top of that, neither grew up in a happy home and they simply don’t believe that traditional relationships can work.
So they strike up a simple arrangement: unattached companionship, toe-curling sex and a clean break when it inevitably ends. And it does end. Michael gets transferred. Darby’s been offered her dream job back home. They've never spoken the "L" word aloud, but the truth doesn’t change the fact that sacrificing either of their careers is not an option. It is only when they are separated that the real story emerges, one that explores what epic love looks like between two people who fight the inclination to drop everything else for love.
What inspired you to write a book about two lovers who could use the word "Snapdragon" to break things off?
We live in an age of sexual liberation. A woman’s value is no longer defined by her decision to marry or have children. For men and women alike, traditional family life is not necessarily a goal. I wanted to write a novel that showed a relationship that could be defined on its own terms rather than according to a formulaic path. “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Darby with a baby carriage” is what I refused to let happen in this book. Yet, even without those constraints, my characters fall deeply in love and the duet (with the second book, Chrysalis) ends in a very satisfying happily ever after.
Snapdragon was well received and ended being a Semi-Finalist in the Publisher's Weekly Book Life Prize for fiction. What has the experience been like so far since publishing the book?
It’s very difficult for new authors to get noticed—especially independent authors, and especially romance authors. Making it into the top 5 in romance and top 35 across genres in such a well-respected international competition has been vindicating. So many talented authors remain undiscovered simply because marketing is so hard. Awards are a great way for undiscovered authors with real chops to gain recognition and have their work read by influential people in the publishing world.
Your book also explores deep themes such as the choice between love and a career—why did you take this approach?
Romance is full of doctors, lawyers, moguls, and CEOs, but very few realistic portrayals of high-pressure careers. I myself am the Chief Marketing Officer in a technology company—I work 65-hour weeks. I spend a lot of time sleeping in hotel rooms in faraway cities and in airport lounges and on planes (I am in the Panama City airport, even as I write the answer to this question). And, when I look at my peer group, I see dating disasters, relationship problems, and divorce.
In Snapdragon, I wanted to tell the truth about what love and romance really looks like for high-achieving people. I wanted it to be a book in which the time, stress, and pressure involved in holding elite jobs would not be downplayed. And I wanted to prove that, even when two people aren’t together every single day, there is tremendous (maybe even heightened) potential for deep connection and romance.