Interview with Robin Schone about her new book The Lover

Robin's April release, "The Lover," hit the bestseller charts--including the USA Today Bestseller List! Her latest book has been the topic of much discussion. She shared the news with us that Bertelsmann is publishing her previous book "The Lady's Tutor," in the spring of 2001. Here is an update on her current success and her future plans.

Angela: "The Lover" has recently been published and was a big success. Actually it was even a big success before it has been officially published. Have you been surprised that it topped the success of "The Lady's Tutor"? What happened exactly to "The Lover"? I heard that it was a bestseller before releasing date?

Robin Schone: Yes, it was the most amazing thing.  Let me explain that the major bestseller lists--ex., the New York Times and USA Today Bestseller lists--are compiled by computing the number of books sold from key bookstores on a weekly basis (USA Today has 3000 bookstores that they pull sales figures from). Publishers assign lead books an 'in-store' release date. It is a violation for bookstores to put that book out on their shelves prior to its 'in-store' release date. The reasoning behind this is that if a book is released simultaneously everywhere, then the weekly number of copies sold those first few weeks will be greater, so the book will stand a better chance of making a list.

Well, "The Lover" had an 'in-store' release date of April 4, but it actually hit bookstores two weeks earlier. That would have been all right, had it been on sale in all the bookstores at the same time, but it wasn't. Books trickled into stores on the East coast one week; the next week they showed up  in stores on the West coast, but . . . "The Lover" made the USA Today Bestseller list anyway!  (laughs)  On April 6, just two days after it's 'official' release date, I learned that it had not only made the USA Today Bestseller list, but that it had also placed on the Waldenbooks Trade Fiction Bestseller list AND the Barnes & Noble Trade Bestseller list!

Needless to say, I was very surprised.  Furthermore, "The Lover" is in trade paperback, which is more expensive than a mass paperback book, so I see the fact that it outsold The Lady's Tutor and made the USA Today Bestseller list as nothing less than miraculous.

I recently learned that "The Lover" is a Doubleday Book Club and a Venus Book Club selection. Talk about a thrill a minute!

Angela: The critics were divided this time. Most reviewers loved it but there are also some reviewers that didn't like your short sentences and "one-word-sentences" in this book. Will you continue writing in this style? Have you read all your reviews? Have you been sometimes disappointed or did you just relax, enjoy the success of the book and the 80% good reviews about "The Lover"?

Robin Schone: I received some negative reviews on "The Lady's Tutor," too, (smiles) but yes, "The Lover" is more controversial and as such was bound to receive more criticism.

"The Lover" takes place over a period of three days.  It is totally action oriented.  While erotic and sexual in nature, danger stalks every touch, every kiss, every coupling between my hero and heroine.  "Death. Desire. Both beckoning. Both waiting."  Compare that writing style to a more traditional style: Both death and desire were beckoning and waiting for him. You can feel the difference.

Short, terse sentences create a fast paced, sinister tone and captures fragmented thoughts and fears, hopes and desires.  Even as Michael is enjoying Anne, there is always that pulse-pounding realization that death is just a heartbeat away.

I am not the first author to convey action and/or mood through "short sentences and one-word-sentences," nor will I be the last, although I will admit I have never before seen that style employed in a romance novel. Usually that particular writing style is used in mystery, sci-fi, horror and/or thrillers. I don't see why romance readers can't occasionally enjoy thrills, too. Why should we always suffer through pedantic prose?

As for whether my writing style will remain the same . . .  A friend, upon reading "The Lover," exclaimed:  "Your writing style has changed again!" When I asked her what she meant, she said that my writing style is different in each one of my books. Upon reflection, I realized she was right.

Every good book has it's own voice.  My goal as a writer is to find that voice, and to write in a style that best reflects my story/characters, whether it be through short, terse sentences to build suspense or through more traditional wording to convey a more classical setting/personality.

I haven't read all of the reviews for "The Lover," but I think I've read most of them.  There is the occasional one that has made me want to pick up the person who wrote it and shake them and shout, 1) get a life, or 2) get a brain. On the other hand, I've read reviews that have brought tears to my eyes and made me want to throw myself at the feet of the reviewers and cry, "Yes!  Yes!  THANK YOU!  That's it exactly!"

Angela: The question that must interest every reader: will Gabriel become his "happily ever after," too? And whom do you love more: Ramiel or Michael/Gabriel? (I know, that's an unfair question ;-))

Robin Schone: I knew from the very beginning that I had to write Gabriel's story. Fortunately, my editor agrees.  I am currently working on his story now.

It is said that every mother--no matter how much she loves her children--secretly harbors special feelings for that one particular daughter or son.  (smiles)  It just so happens . . .  I loved Ramiel in "The Lady's Tutor," but Michael and Gabriel in "The Lover" stole my heart. Just the idea of two male prostitutes--one who as a boy is trained to please women while the other is trained to please men; one who regains his soul through sex while the other loses his soul because of sex--brings tears to my eyes. The stark contrast between these two men who, in spite of everything, has remained best friends throughout their adult lives, fascinates me. We all want Michael to be our lover--I mean, after all, he is Michael of the Angels, a man named for his ability to bring women to orgasm--but I think our need to heal Gabriel is just as strong as our lust for Michael.  They are . . . my two angels.

If you had asked me to chose between Michael and Gabriel . . . now THAT would have been unfair.  :-)

Angela: Did the banana-chocolate scene cause a lot of discussions because it's quite unusual that the partners have sex and one confesses such disgusting tragedies like eating worms... ;-)

Robin Schone: Well, Angela . . .  I will gently take you to task here.  Michael and Anne do NOT have sex while he's telling her about his past.  And this is very key to understanding that scene.

After Michael rescues Anne, she is understandably distraught.  He is determined to 1) convince her that he knows exactly what she has gone through--as he himself had gone through it as a boy--by telling her about his childhood; 2) demonstrate to her that sexual love and intimacy are more powerful than any horror perpetrated by the man, and 3) to replace her nightmarish memories with memories of pleasure.

Originally I named "The Lover" An Act of Love, because that chocolate and banana sex scene is absolutely an act of love on Michael's part.  He smears chocolate onto Anne's body as he is sharing his past with her; he DOES NOT talk of his past when he is actually making love to her.  By licking the chocolate off of her body and nibbling on the banana that he had filled her with in preparation of his love making, he replaces his own childhood trauma with the taste of Anne, and thereby begins his own healing, as well as hers.

When my novella "A Lady's Pleasure" in the anthology "Captivated" was published, I got several letters from women who expected to be repelled by the anal sex, but instead found themselves crying over the way I handled it because it truly was an act of bonding between my hero and heroine.  It is the same with Michael and Anne and the chocolate and banana scene in "The Lover." A few readers have found it repulsive. On the other hand, I've received letters from fans saying it's the most beautiful sex scene they have ever read, and that--like those women who read my novella--they cried when they read it.

It is so easy to wallow in horror and defeat, both in life and literature. Michael refused to let Anne take that route.  What had been done to him as a child was horrible--what was done to Anne was equally so--but for Michael to replace the horror with pleasure . . . well, that is the true healing power of intimacy.

Angela: You just finished your novella for "Fascinated." I bet the novella is about Ramiel's mother? Can you tell us more about this story and do you have any clue what the other authors are going to write this time for this anthology?

Robin Schone: Now, you know I can't yet tell you who the novella is about, Angela! All I can say at this time is that yes, the hero/heroine is a secondary character from "The Lady's Tutor," and yes . . . some people are going to be mightily surprised at which character it is, and some aren't.  (smiles)  I will add, though, that the writing in my upcoming novella is not the short, terse style I used in "The Lover," but a style that is more representative of my characters.

"Fascinated," by the way, is an October release. I am running a contest on my web site in August.  The first person whose name is drawn at the conclusion of the contest who correctly guesses which character my hero/heroine is, will win a very nice prize indeed! I will have more details up on my web site soon.

Let me see . . .  I have the cover flat for "Fascinated" here, so I can give you the titles to all the novellas: Bertrice Small's is "Mastering Lady Lucinda;"  Susan Johnson's is "Risking It All;" Thea Devine's is "The Pleasure Game," and mine is "A Man And A Woman."  The stories appear in that order.  Other than my own, I really don't know what the novellas are about.

Angela: What are your future plans for your life after your novella? Do you belong to the Grisham and King-category after your success with "The Lover"? ;-)))

Robin Schone: My future plans are to write, and to write, and to write . . .  Hmm, I don't think anything has changed with the success of "The Lover!"  (laughs) And because Grisham, King, Clancy, and all the other superstars in the wonderful world of books are pretty much committed to the same schedule of writing and writing and writing, then yes, maybe I do belong in their category!  :-)

© Angela Weiss und Isolde Wehr, Juni 2000, Die romantische Bücherecke

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Dieses Interview entstand im Juni 2000 zwischen Angela W. und Robin Schone für:

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