Romance and the rest
Author Laura Greaves reveals how she writes different books in different genres without going crazy.
I’ve just moved into a new house that’s three times the size of my last home. Before the move (and in virtually every spare moment since, if I’m honest) I did what any excited 21st century homeowner would do: I made Pinterest boards for literally every room in the house. I pinned colour schemes, tried to discern the difference between ‘bohemian’ and ‘eclectic’ design (there isn’t one, as far as I can tell) and wrangled with the question of what should replace all the boring oyster lights the place is filled with. (Seriously, they’re everywhere.)
But when moving day arrived, I suddenly found myself tied up in knots. This new place is lovely, but it’s so much bigger than what I’ve been used to my entire life. It’s not just roomy; it’s spacious to the point of being overwhelming. How was I possibly going to manage it? How could I get these new rooms and blank walls to make sense? How would I make it into a home, instead of just a big house full of an assortment of stuff? Would it ever feel like a cohesive space?
I fully appreciate that this is a very fortunate problem to have, but it made me feel anxious and discombobulated nonetheless. And that’s when it hit me: my new house is a metaphor for my career as an author. My working life, it could be argued, is as all-over-the-place as this big empty house.
Today marks the release of my third romance novel. Two Weeks ‘til Christmas (Penguin Random House) is the story of city veterinarian Claire Thorne, who returns to her rural home town determined to stop her oldest friend, Scotty Shannon, from marrying a woman he’s just met. It’s a sweet Christmas-themed love story and it was an absolute joy to write.
Meanwhile, two weeks from today, my second non-fiction book, Dogs with Jobs (Penguin Random House), will hit shelves. It’s a collection of true stories about amazing working dogs. Writing it was a singular kind of pleasure.
Both books were written this year, one after the other. While I was writing Dogs with Jobs, I was plotting Two Weeks. Then, as I wrote Two Weeks, I was simultaneously completing edits on Dogs. Now I’m in the thick of publicity and promotion for both titles. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of what day of the week it is!
This constant gear-shifting between the two books was intense and at times overwhelming, but it was also exhilarating. Tackling two very different genres effectively at once was an opportunity to flex my writing chops and really test myself as an author. And while the stories in each book may at first glance seem wildly disparate, they are in fact about the same thing: love.
Two Weeks ‘til Christmas is about the overwhelming rush of new love and the slow burn of love that’s as familiar as a favourite blanket. It’s about love lost and rekindled, love that is capable of transcending time, distance and a Biblical flood’s worth of water under the bridge. Dogs with Jobs is about similar kinds of love: the love between dogs and their people, love that’s demonstrated through tireless vigilance and indefatigable devotion, love that transcends and transforms.
Authors often talk about their ‘thematic’ — the thing that, whether they realise it or not, they write about again and again. My thematic is, without question, love in all its forms (closely followed by dogs, because: crazy dog lady).
And the funny thing is, as soon as I realised that my work isn’t all-over-the-place at all — it’s actually sharply focused on a single concept that is both infinitely complex and incredibly simple — my big new house started to feel less intimidating, too. Because it doesn’t matter what colour I paint the walls or where I put the furniture, this house will be filled with the same thing I pour into my book: love.
Laura Greaves is the author of novels Two Weeks ‘til Christmas, Be My Baby and The Ex-Factor, as well as non-fiction books Dogs with Jobs and Incredible Dog Journeys. Find out more about Laura’s work at http://www.lauragreaves.com or http://www.facebook.com/lauragreaveswritesbooks