Hello everyone, welcome to Nerdy Bookarazzi’s Author Interview session and we have the amazing Belinda Missen with us today. Belinda is a brilliant romance writer who writes beautiful, heart-warming and happy love stories. I recently read her latest book Accidentally in Love and loved it so much. I almost loved all the characters in the book and especially I was able to step into the lead character’s shoes so very easily. I sincerely wanted to discuss this lovely book with the author and so I approached her and Belinda Missen was more than happy to join us on this incredible conversation which we are about to have with her today. But before that I would like to give a little introduction about her and here we go!!
Belinda Missen is a romance author of a hand full of wonderful books. She is a very passionate author, a very beautiful soul and sometimes foodie. Belinda is a ridiculous romantic who met her husband after being introduced by a friend two states away.
She is residing in country Victoria, surrounded by books, cat-fur, and half-eaten cake. She divides her days between writing rom-coms, baking, and indulging her love of comic books. Belinda holds a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing from Federation TAFE.
Hello Belinda, welcome to Nerdy Bookarazzi. First of all, thank you so much Belinda for doing this interview session with me, I’m so happy to have you here in Nerdy Bookarazzi today, it is an absolute pleasure. I’m a sucker for Chicklits and romantic-comedies and when I read Accidentally in love, it was so fulfilling and enchanting. I generally contact the authors whose writing has touched my heart and you are one such author. I was reflecting on your writing style and the way you’ve plotted the novel and moved forward, and they were really fascinating and enjoyable. And then I couldn’t stop myself from ranting what I liked about your book and that’s why I contacted you and started my rantings 😀 Sorry and not so sorry for spamming you. I’m so very excited to converse with an author with so much talent as you. Once again a hearty welcome, Belinda. I hope you will have fun as much as I do. So now let’s get into the session.
How did your writing journey begin? When did you realize you were made for this? And how did you select romance as your kind of genre?
My writing journey began when I was about 12 or 13 years old, I think. It started with fan-fiction, then moved onto scribbles in the back of old school books. From then on, it was a dream to see my name on the cover of books. Of course, life got in the way and I went on to work in retail and the transport industry before I got back into writing. Once again, it started with fan-fiction, which is great to test out new ideas, and then moved onto longer novels. I’m not sure I ever selected romance as my genre though, I think it found me. There’s just something wonderful about the escapism that it brings. Bad day? Read about people falling in love, that’ll fix it.
Where do you get inspirations for your novels? And what kind of researches will you do before starting to write?
Inspiration is a funny thing. I’ve had ideas for books while sitting at traffic lights, laying in bed, or sitting on the sofa at home. It’s such a wild thing that one picture, word or scene in a book can spark this incredible unraveling idea, but that’s kind of how it happens. Then, I get stuck into whether some of the ideas are possible, into the research of it. Do I do a lot of research? I tend to write around things that interest me, so I already have a basic knowledge, but can easily reach for deeper information if I need to—thanks, Google!
While plotting a character, what are the major things you consider which makes the characters more real and personal?
There’s so much to consider when writing characters. To a writer, these characters are as real as anyone around them. They tell us when they’re happy, sad, frustrated or bored, and it’s a really good way to get to know them. But what I want most for my characters is to feel real, so they’ll have heartache, history, friendships, real world problems like you or I, such as jobs that frustrate them.
While reading Accidentally in love, what attracted me the most was Kate and Kit’s vast knowledge on Art. How did you write those parts? Do you have sound knowledge on Art and paintings prior to this book or did you specifically researched for this?
I have a small, selective knowledge of art. I know the pieces that I like. For instance, the references to Richard Carline and postcards in Accidentally In Love is because I adore Carline’s work. His piece ‘Self Portrait in Uniform (1918)’ is my favorite painting of all time. I have a print hanging in my hall, and I’m quite sure it was something of an inspiration for the character of Kit, too. Other artists I love include Van Gogh and Degas. I also really like Paul Delaroche’s ‘The Execution of Lady Jane Grey’. My grandmother was also an incredibly talented artist, so I’ve always been surrounded by art to some degree. It was always a thrill to be allowed into her studio (which was a rarity, but I remember it well). For this book though, I specifically had to research art galleries and their workings. I’m sure there are mistakes there, but I hope it’s at least realistic.
How important is building a strong career and background for the protagonist? And what kind of input do you put as an author for writing it authentically?
It’s hugely important to me that my protagonists, and even their love interests, have solid jobs. What I’m trying to achieve, hopefully, is to write romance that is realistic, something that looks like the everyday for people. I find that, when I read, they’re the kinds of romances I reach for – I want something that will sweep me away while also being grounded in ‘this is totally believable’ vibes. I just love the idea that someone could walk into a coffee shop one morning and change your life. As for writing their jobs authentically, or their lives, it involves research and planning and, sometimes, visiting locations. All of my most recent books have been born from my visits to the UK.
You are an expert in writing Rom-Com, so what do you think are the key factors for writing a perfect Rom-Com? A few quick tips please?
Thank you – that’s incredibly kind of you to say. What are my key factors for a solid rom-com? I think when the right characters click, there’s some solid magic to be had from them. So, my hard and fast rules for rom-coms are:
– Make sure you watch and read widely. Soak up as much romance, drama, sci-fi as you can, as all of these will help inform your writing and make it stronger.
– Really get to know your characters. Sit down and do some free writing with them. Find out all their quirks, likes and dislikes. It’ll make them easier to write.
– Conflict is key. I love angst (if you can’t tell) but even that has to be balanced properly.
– Meet the hero early. I know we didn’t meet Kit very early in Accidentally In Love, but if I had my chance again, I’d introduce him in the first three pages, rushing through the entry of the gallery demanding to speak to Kate because she’s ignored his emails enquiring about gallery space.
– Comedy is really quite hard to write. I love word play, double entendres, puns, and banter. I absolutely love it when my characters take over and have some solid banter. It’s then that they really come alive.
I absolutely loved the way in which you’ve written about closely knitted families in Accidentally in love. I loved Kate and Adam’s bond and I also loved the way Kate interacted with her stepmother. So, how did talking about families came into the picture when you were writing romance because most of the romance writer don’t pay much attention to family background and all, but you have written it so beautiful at the right amount. Can you please elaborate on that?
Sure. So, for me, characters in a romance aren’t two dimensional. They don’t drop everything because the love of their life is suddenly in the picture. If I’m going to make them three-dimensional people, they’re going to have family and friends and all the dramas that come along with them. I want to incorporate all of that into a book, but not so much that they take over – just enough to know that they’re real, because the way that they react to family and friends is an indicator of character and should inform how they deal with their love life, too. It’s all connected.
Also, I really love Adam, too. I think he’s going to have his own book in the future.
This is an amazing insight you have!! And Oh My God!! I can’t wait to read about Adam <3 Alright, the next question is, the relationship with John was written very effectively. Though he was not the right man, I loved everything about that relationship. I loved Kate’s expectation and most importantly the fight and breakup was beautifully written. Am I sadistic ? 😛 But the thing is, it had more drama to it and I basically love dramatic things. It was emotional at the same time it made Kate very stronger and her bravery in getting out of that relationship was commendable. How did you write those parts?
Honestly, I love John. I’m quite sure, if I went back through my files, he had a whole book to himself before Kit or Kate ever existed. He’s been kicking around in my head for years, so I was desperate to use him in a book somewhere. I love the idea that, somewhere in the future, he and Kate manage to salvage a solid friendship out of what they had, though I’m not entirely sure Kit would love that. Are you a sadist? Not at all, I loved writing that break-up scene. There was tension and drama, and I think we’ve all had those moments in our life where we just think ‘I’ve had enough’. And I think you’re right, it made Kate stronger, she was finally putting her foot down and demanding more from life, so it was important that this was a really solid finale.
*Yeahhhh, I too love John, glad he is the first one to be born on your mind, I would love read about him as well <3 *
Okay, now you’ve to tell me this, how? like how did you pen Kit’s character. When I first read about Kit, I was like no way I’m liking this guy just like Kate thought but then as the story progressed I was in love with him and I seriously do not know when did that happened? How do you accomplish these kind of things in the reader’s mind and heart? Because throughout the book I liked everybody Kate liked, I hated the people she hated, I was confused when she was confused. It was completely a spectacular experience, at no point I realized I was reading a book. So what is the magic that you’re using?
*laughs in writer* Thanks! I think part of the magic of Kit is that he’s so dry. You can never quite be sure if he’s being serious, or if he’s pulling your leg. The secret for me is that I just adore Kit. I think if you can write all the characters from a place of love, then things should even out in the end. Hopefully. As for the secret to writing him? I’m not sure what it is. He and John have been favourites of mine for a while, so … maybe that helps?
Fun fact: Kate and Kit existed in a book I self-published about five years ago. It was a very different relationship – Kate worked for him in a very Sound of Music kind of way but, the more books I wrote, the more I realized that story didn’t serve the characters, so they became what they are today.
What is the most important quality a romance writer should have?
Good question, because I’m not sure I’d call myself terribly romantic in real life. But I must be if this is what I’m writing, right? I guess, above all, we need to be in tune with our feelings while also having the ability to empathize with our characters and what they’re going through. Naturally, I’ve not been through everything my characters have been, but I need to be able to put myself in their shoes. We should also be good at people watching, too, just to see how others react to situations around them.
Who is your favorite author in your genre whose work has inspired you a lot in writing and why do you like them?
For romance writing, I can’t go past Mhairi McFarlane. Her characters are real, as is the romance. For comedy, I really love Adam Kay’s non-fiction work. It’s dry but also a great observation of people in general. If I’m feeling like a bit of science fiction, I might reach for Andy Weir – he’s funny but also writes science in a way that people can understand. And, for literary fiction, Edward St Aubyn has been a favourite in recent years for his ability to head hop and observe the world around him.
Have you written any romantic parts and felt it was quite cheesy and re-edited it completely fearing it was too cheesy? If so, can you tell what that cheesy romantic part is? I love cheesy romantic stuffs 😛
Oh, absolutely. I remember one scene in One Week Til Christmas where Isobel brings Tom a picnic and decides to take him out for lunch. That’s all well and good until you think about how cold London is at Christmas. It was totally impractical, so I sent them off to Winter Wonderland instead, I think. In a really early draft of Accidentally In Love, I think Kit declared his love for Kate in front of an entire cinema full of people, which isn’t entirely cheesy, but also totally is at the same time.
Are you working on anything at present you would like to share with your readers about?
Ah, I’ve always got something on the go. Right now, I’m working on another book that features postcards. It’s a play on You’ve Got Mail. My protagonist is into astronomy and science but can’t quite get where she needs to in life until she has a random stranger cheering her on from her mailbox.
Among all the characters you’ve written, who is your favorite and why?
I’ll always have a soft spot for William in An Impossible Thing Called Love. He was (and still is in my brain) playful, loud, attention seeking, but incredibly sweet at the same time. He’s a joy to write. Once upon a time, I had his entire life mapped out for him. I’d love to revisit him as a character one day, along with Kit and Kate, and possibly John.
And finally how was your experience with this interview session?
You know what, I’ve absolutely loved your questions. They’ve been different to a lot of others that I’ve answered. Thank you so much for making this so enjoyable, and for taking the time to read Accidentally In Love. I’ve loved chatting to you about it. Hopefully I can stop by in the future for more books. xo
Thank you so very much Belinda I’m looking forward to working with you in the future!!!!!! This means a lot to me. It was really exciting to know all your answers and get your in-depth thoughts and ideas behind your writings. And above all thank you so much for writing this wonderful book. Thank you so much for your time and patience in doing this interview with me.
Have a great day!!
Get in touch with the author :
I had so much fun with this session with Belinda Missen, I hope you guys too had the same!!
Check out Belinda’s book on the links given above!!
Happy Reading Folks!!