If you're a fan of Fifty Shades of Grey or just steamy reads in general, you're going to want to check out No. 1 New York Times bestsellers Abbi Glines, Colleen Hoover, and Jamie McGuire (pictured from left to right) — three authors paving the way in the new adult romance genre. In our Q&A below Abbi, Colleen, and Jamie dish on romance novel stereotypes, the sexy actors they'd love to play their leads, and more. Read the interview now.
What makes modern romance novels different than the ones our moms or grandmothers read?
Abbi: The sex is better. And the women have stronger personalities. They don't need a man to save them. They can save themselves. Although sometimes it's nice when the guy does a little saving.
Colleen: The main difference would be that we can relate to the characters more, as most of the romance novels my friends and I read are contemporary. However, I don't think the passion our generation has for their romance books differs. I remember my mother always had boxes of historical romance novels, and she read every day. I do think technology has had a huge impact in that titles are more accessible and we are able to discuss with others as we read them. Before there were ereaders, women would have to pass around the same book and wait weeks or months to discuss it with their friends. Now we can read them simultaneously and discuss them in real time.
Jamie: I think today's romance is edgier, more relatable, and pushes boundaries. Today's romance authors create flawed characters, and don't always spare them. The mistakes are real, and the results aren't always wrapped in a pretty bow, and yet there can be a happy ending anyway.
What's the biggest misconception about romance novels?
Abbi: That they're stories with no depth. A romance novel's main focus is the love story, but to make a romance novel good, it has to have a deeper issue. One that has to be overcome. One that readers can relate to.
Colleen: One of the biggest misconceptions I've noticed is that some people think romance novels are all the same and follow a generic formula. As a writer of romance, I do everything I can to make sure my books and characters are unique and nothing like I've read before. I always try to incorporate some element I haven't come across in a past book, such as slam poetry or an interactive soundtrack. I love picking books up that surprise me, and this has happened on a lot of occasions while reading romance.
Jamie: That only women read them.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Abbi: My head is always swirling with ideas. I see a couple arguing on the street, and in less than a minute, I have a complete story in my head as to why they're fighting. Simply put: I have a vivid imagination.
Colleen: From everywhere. I'm always inside my head and turning every conversation and everything I see into a story somehow. I think the easier question would be where don't you find inspiration, because the answer would be nowhere.
Jamie: Real life and music.
How do you figure out what's going to turn on your readers?
Abbi: I don't. I write what appeals to me. I can't write something that bores me. I have to entertain myself. I figure if I'm entertained, then someone else will be, too.
Colleen: I have no clue what will turn them on. If I tried to write to please the readers, I'd never finish a book. Readers are so different in what appeals to them, so my first focus is to write to please myself. (This question and answer could so be taken out of context.)
Jamie: I ask them. Authors today have unprecedented access to readers and their desires. I am online chatting with my readers daily. But I don't pay too much attention to the trends. I don't want to do what everyone else is doing. I write what speaks to me.
What qualities are the sexiest qualities in a man? What about in a woman?
Abbi: For me it's the dominant man who can only be reached by one woman. The woman who is comfortable with herself and accepts who she is.
Colleen: Confidence in a guy and a girl. Kindness comes in a close second. Attraction is important, but I try to keep my physical descriptions to a minimum in my books. Readers have so many different tastes, so I like the reader to be able to imagine what the characters look like for themselves.
Jamie: Confidence for both.
How has technology impacted the genre?
Abbi: It's opened up a whole new world and increased "word of mouth." People who didn't read before have become so intrigued with popular romance novels via social media, and now they've tried them and found things have changed. I get readers weekly who tell me they hated reading until they picked up one of my books.
Colleen: I think it's had a huge impact. I know without a doubt that my books would have never reached my readers without technology, for many reasons. First of all, ebooks have reached an entire audience of readers who wouldn't be reading otherwise. Secondly, social media played a huge role in the word of mouth of my books. Without online book blogs and book clubs, I'm not sure anyone would have read my first two books.
Jamie: Ebooks have changed the face of publishing in general, and social media has given authors a gigantic platform to inform readers what's next.
Which sexy actor would you love to play your lead?
Abbi: I hate this question and I normally skip over it, simply because readers all have their own ideas in their heads. But I know Jamie and Colleen will answer this, so I'm going to admit who I would want for at least one of my guys. Grant Carter is Chace Crawford in my head. So if Rosemary Beach ever makes it to the movies or a TV series (which is what I'm secretly hoping for), I would want Chace Crawford to be Grant Carter. Hands down.
Colleen: That's such a hard question. I love Jake McDorman for Ridge, but Zac Efron could play any character in my books he wants. I would alter all the physical descriptions of my characters for Zac. ;)
Jamie: For the same reason I don't feature people on my covers, I don't like to say. It's important that readers create the character in their own minds. Appeal is relative.