Ruthie Knox can write no wrong in my eyes. I’m placing her at the top of my Contemporary Romance authors’ list and you would too if you’ve read her previously released books. (sorry, Ruthie, no pressure – yeah?)
Roman Holiday is a romance split into ten chapters, divided into two seasons, posted weekly throughout two 5 week span periods. The first of which begins November 11!
Each of those chapters is around 14K words (give or take), which I’m painfully sure will keep us on our toes waiting for the following week. The covers and titles for the first 5 chapters have already been revealed, and I’m forcing myself into a calm, cool and collected state because THEY ARE HOT!
Here are the visuals for the first 5 Roman Holiday chapters:
Chained, the first chapter is due November 11th.
Onto the interview portion. I asked Ruthie a few questions about Roman Holiday and here’s what she said:
E: Roman Holiday is being published in a very unique way. How did that come to be?
R: I was actually invited by Random House to write a serial novel, and then I had to decide if I wanted to. Of course I said yes, because I love assignments. There is something really fun to me about writing within a framework—and I think, in fact, the reason I started writing romance in the first place, when I’d never written in my life, was that romance gave me a framework to develop a story within.
So in this case, my agent, Emily, and I sat poolside in Anaheim at the Romance Writers of America conference and talked about what kind of serial story might be fun while sipping strawberry daiquiris. I don’t remember now who had the idea that it should begin in the Florida Keys with this girl chained to a palm tree in her bikini, but it kind of took off from there. ☺
E: Are the characters you write based more or less on people you know in real life? I’m referring to MCs mainly, but since all the characters you write are pretty darn awesome, supporting characters count, too.
R: This is a hard question to answer. I’ve never written a character who I considered to be based on anyone I know. But at the same time, I’ve never written a character who wasn’t built out of the people I’ve met—the experiences I’ve had—and built from myself, too, because in order to write character authentically you need to find empathy, and I think empathy grows first from our own experiences.
A writer has to be something of a thief, snatching little bits and pieces from everywhere in order to build characters. But ultimately, in that process, the characters build up layer by layer until they begin to feel like fully rounded people, to the point that I can ask, for example, “What would Roman do in this situation?” and know what the answer is.
E: Many authors create their MCs and damage their spirits to only be mended and restored by their love interest, eventually. Your characters from book one all have been strong as individuals, even ones with some sort of trauma in their past. Do you write them this way intentionally?
R: Yes, I guess I do. I mean, I didn’t come into being a romance writer with any sort of plan that I would do this, but inevitably my own feelings about love and personal development drive what kinds of journeys I want to take characters on.
I don’t think love fixes people. I think everyone has to fix themselves—but that love has a way of enticing people to lower their own gates, or to see themselves more clearly. It gives people an incentive to change, and change happens more easily, I think, when our lives are tumbled around in turmoil anyway. So I tend to write stories of self-actualization that are catalyzed by love.
These are the happy endings I can believe in—happy-ever-afters between two people who have taken steps toward becoming more authentic versions of themselves because falling in love gave them the space, the opportunity, the courage to do that.
E: Do Ashley and Roman fall under that category or are they just contending with an issue that’s drawing them together?
R: Oh, baby, Ashley and Roman are Fucked Up. With capital letters. They’re both carrying around a lot of baggage from the past, they’re both grieving something, and they both have a lot they need to figure out about friendship and love and what kind of space they want to inhabit in the world.
The fun thing about Roman Holiday is that when you put all ten episodes together, it’s an epically long book—half again as long as anything else I’ve ever written. There is a lot of room here for change and growth, and I needed all of it to get these two to a place where I could convince the reader that yes, they belong together, and yes, they’re going to make each other happy.
E: Location, location, location! Camelot is set in the Midwest, Ride With Me is a cross-country bike ride so it doesn’t count, About Last Night in London-Chicago. Do you ever travel as part of researching for your books?
R: I did spend a weekend in New York City to do research for Truly, Madly, and Completely, which was awesome. Most of the other books I’ve written are set in places I’ve been or lived. I’ve ridden my bike a lot of the places where Tom and Lexie go in Ride With Me. I lived in Greenwich, London, where About Last Night is set. I grew up in the town that I based Camelot, Ohio, on. And for Roman Holiday, I sent Roman and Ashley to a lot of my favorite places. “Write what you know” is good advice, when it comes to place—it gives the stories authenticity that it’s hard to attain through research.
E: Do you have a story planned that’s not being written due to destination research needs? Because we can kickstart you getting there. JS.
R: I wouldn’t turn down a chance to travel to Italy or Spain for a future book! Feel free to work up a campaign.
E: Back to Roman Holiday: Is there anything you’d like the readers to know or be prepare for? Not including the expected heart palpitations Roman is going to inflict on us?
R: I think the main thing to be prepared for is the serial format. Roman Holiday is going to be released in ten “episodes” over two “seasons,” with a gap of several months in the middle. So prepare to have to wait to find out how it ends!
It helps to think of it like television: five episodes a week for a season, and then a wait until the next season comes along. In between releases, I’m hoping to get readers to hang out in the Roman Holiday Forum (forum.ruthieknox.com), where we’re going to have all sorts of discussion threads and contests and things.
I’d like readers to really savor the experience, try to anticipate what’s coming, chew over what’s happened, think about how the characters are changing and what they want to see happen next. Fingers crossed that people will enjoy it!
E: Rounding up my questions and apropos Roman Holiday being a serial ebook romance, you also have Truly updated weekly on Wattpad (hyperlinked) Is this a Ruthie Knox trend in the making? Was Roman Holiday‘s publishing weekly inspired by Truly?
R: It’s actually completely the other way around—which happens a lot in publishing. ☺ Truly is being serialized, but it wasn’t written as a serial. It just so happened that Random House was in conversations with Wattpad about having one of their authors serialize an upcoming book there, and they asked me if I would like to do it with Truly, which was sitting around finished but isn’t going to be releasing until next August.
We thought it would be fun to get Truly out in the world early and to try to see if I could meet some new readers through Wattpad whom I might not otherwise have access to—and we also thought my established readers would enjoy getting to read the book early.
Roman Holiday, meanwhile, was conceived as a serial from the outset, and it’s been a long time in the making. It’s purely coincidental that it’s going to be released immediately after the serialization of Truly—but I hope reading Truly serially is good practice for my readers, who might be more willing to dive right into Roman Holiday.
Thank you for taking the time to quell my curiosity.
My pleasure! Thanks for having me, and for being such a devoted fan of my books. *mwah*
See why she’s my favorite?
And now for the excerpt (previously posted on Ruthie’s website):
The arrival of the shiny black SUV in the parking lot startled the fawn into flight.
Ashley watched it bound out of the empty swimming pool, between the two-story rental units, and onto the beach. She tried not to hate the man who had driven it away.
Her chafed wrists were not his fault. He hadn’t pushed her down onto this pile of mulch, nor had he chained her to the palm tree. He hadn’t insisted she launch her protest clad only in a damp bikini and a T-shirt.
No, all of that was Ashley’s doing. She had to place the blame for this harebrained caper squarely on her own aching shoulders.
Even though Roman Díaz was about to destroy the only place in the world that mattered to her, she wouldn’t hate him. Hate was poisonous.
But man, she’d really been enjoying the little Key deer. It had been such an excellent distraction from all the depressing thoughts about her grandmother.
Past the spot where it had disappeared, a slice of sunrise washed the sky in orange, and the dark silhouette of an angular palm tree framed a view straight off a Florida landscape postcard.
Whereas the SUV was like the other kind of postcard—the tacky kind that had a smiling woman shoving her enormous, barely clad hooters toward the viewer over a neon-script tagline like “A Big Hello from Florida.”
It didn’t bode well.
The soft glow of early morning did little to conceal the fact that the eight-unit rental complex spread out around the pool had seen better days. Peachy Keen and Salmon Sunset had faded to a pinkish beige and beigeish pink, respectively, while Turquoise Treasure was a sort of anemic white-blue. The interiors were worse, the carpet grotty and the blond-wood-and-seashell theme of the decor begging for an update.
But for Ashley, Sunnyvale Vacation Rentals retained a timeless beauty—the white railings on the upper and lower porches matching the trim around the windows and along the rooflines; the broad, fringed leaves of the sheltering palms; the ocean beyond, just a short walk to the dock.
The sky, the sun, the light, the breeze off the water. All of it bound up together, indivisibly part of this place she loved more than any other.
The driver’s door opened, and black dress shoes appeared beneath gray slacks. The black top of his head crested the door, then disappeared as he ducked down to reach into the car—probably retrieving his hooded cape and sickle, just to complete the look.
But no. When he emerged from behind the door, his evil was far more subtle than she’d expected. The closer he walked, the more this rich Miami land developer looked like television’s version of a bad guy: tall, dark, expensive, beautifully proportioned, and—she had to admit—way more handsome than people were supposed to be in real life.
Ashley liked a handsome man as much as the next girl, but the ones who really got her going always had endearingly imperfect teeth, bad haircuts, unfortunate facial hair—some flaw that made them approachable. She picked the sort of guys who were game to go surfing on a whim or try out sex in a hammock even if they risked ending up in the dirt, slightly bruised and laughing.
Whereas this man—no way did he own a hammock. He was too perfect, his handsomeness nothing less than a loaded weapon aimed at the world. She imagined him bleaching his teeth so white that he purposefully blinded people when he smiled. You’d be gazing at his face, mesmerized by those teeth—which she couldn’t even see right now, but she knew just how they’d look, their contrast to the deep brown of his skin both surprising and delicious—and then you’d blink and he’d be gone, and so would your wallet and your house.
Possibly he’d leave you the hammock.
Of course, it was also possible she was projecting. She’d only been watching him for about four seconds, and she had, admittedly, a fairly strong bias against the guy.
His slick soles crunched over the crushed-shell surface of the lot. He didn’t walk so much as he loped, taking the circular pavers two at a time. His suit was so well behaved that it loped right along with him, too expensively tailored to look awkward for even a heartbeat.
When he’d passed the office, he veered off the path to make a slow circuit around the palm. His expression betrayed nothing as he took in the mound of mulch where Ashley sat. Her bound wrists, tucked tight against her lower back. Her bare arms and barer legs and barest-of-all feet.
He stopped directly in front of her.
“Ashley Bowman, I presume.”
A joke? He delivered the line with such dignity, she couldn’t tell if he meant to be funny.
He placed his briefcase on the ground and hunkered down, resting his elbows on his spread knees and clasping his hands lightly between them. Normal people would look awkward doing that, but he made it seem like he’d been born to hunker.
His shirt was black, open at the collar, his sunglasses mirrored. He took them off, and his dark eyes were mirrored, too. Impenetrable.
Good-looking, yes. But good?
She wouldn’t bet a nickel on it.
Not for the first time, it occurred to Ashley that chaining herself to the palm tree had not been her best decision ever. The idea had been to take a stand. Instead, she felt like a virgin staked below a volcano.
A nostalgic sort of feeling, since it had been so very long since she was a virgin. But this guy definitely had some magmalike qualities. Slow-moving. Molten. Dangerous.
The danger explained why all her frayed nerve endings were sizzling.
I don’t know about you, but I’m already developing a strange little obsession with Roman Díaz. I’m choosing to believe there’s more to him than what Ashley sees. Potential book-boyfriend? Hells yeah!!!
PS – don’t forget about Truly on Wattpad. The story will be pulled about a month or so after (possibly available through the end of the year) it’s finished updating November 4th. You’ll have to wait until Fall 2014 *GASP!!!* to read it as a traditionally published novel.
USA Today bestselling author Ruthie Knox writes contemporary romance that’s sexy, witty, and angsty—sometimes all three at once. After training to be a British historian, she became an academic editor instead. Then she got really deeply into knitting, as one does, followed by motherhood and romance novel writing.
Her debut novel, Ride with Me, is probably the only existing cross-country bicycling love story. She followed it up with About Last Night, a London-set romance whose hero has the unlikely name of Neville, and then Room at the Inn, a Christmas novella—both of which were finalists for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award. Her four-book series about the Clark family of Camelot, Ohio, has won accolades for its fresh, funny portrayal of small-town Midwestern life.
Ruthie moonlights as a mother, Tweets incessantly, and bakes a mean focaccia. She’d love to hear from you, so visit her website at www.ruthieknox.com and drop her a line.