Nora Roberts has managed to rule not just bestselling lists, but also readers’ hearts. In celebration of her birthday, Manasi Y Mastakar gives a glimpse in the author’s world
“Love and magic have a great deal in common. They enrich the soul, delight the heart. And they both take practice.” –Nora Roberts
How do you begin when writing about one of your favourite authors? Do start with the author’s journey or do you speak about your first encounter with the writer? After all, you want the beginning to be interesting since it’s about one of your favourite person.
Many times, romance as a genre is looked down upon by literary snobs. You say you love to read romance, and the conclusion is you might not be intelligent enough to understand to read books that have been nominated for or won coveted awards like Man Booker prize or the likes. And I beg to differ, I would say to understand romance you need high emotional quotient. After all, you can’t understand romance if you have (to put it in Hermione Granger’s words) an “emotional range of a teaspoon”.
I am a romantic, unabashedly so, and I have no qualms about accepting that romance books (mushy included) are my favourite go to read. And Nora Roberts is one of my favourite romantic authors. I still remember the day I first came across her book. It was a bright sunny day, and while browsing through the romance sections of a bookstore I came across a complete row dedicated to her. Moving away from my usual picks, I move over to her section, and randomly pick a book. And the blurb leads me to pick a few more. The romantic-suspense plots are too difficult to let go. Once I started reading her, there was no going back. The Villa, Carolina Moon, Divine Evil, True Betrayals are some of my favourites which I have re-read several times.
Nora Roberts started writing in February 1979 “during a blizzard in February, 1979 while housebound with the two small boys. Three feet of snow. A dwindling supply of chocolate. No morning kindergarten. Day after day after day. It was just a nightmare.” She got so hooked onto writing that she produced six manuscripts (all romances) which she later submitted to Harlequin, the leading publisher of romance novels. But her novels were repeatedly rejected. Speaking about the initial rejection, Roberts has been quoted as saying: “I got the standard rejection for the first couple of tries, then my favourite rejection of all time. I received my manuscript back with a nice little note which said that my work showed promise, and the story had been very entertaining and well done. But that they already had their American writer. That would have been Janet Dailey.”
It was in 1980, that Nora Roberts finally found a publisher in the Silhouette books, another major romance novels publisher. In 1981, her first novel Irish Thoroughbred was published. And between 1982 and 1984, Roberts wrote 23 novels for Silhouette. Roberts has been featured in Pamela Regis’ A Natural History of the Romance Novel, where Regis calls Roberts “a master of the romance novel form”, because she “has a keen ear for dialogue, constructs deft scenes, maintains a page-turning pace, and provides compelling characterization.”
Nora Roberts published her first romantic suspense novel under the pseudonym J D Robb, where the initials ‘J D’ were taken from her sons’ names Jason and Dan, while Robb is the shorter version of Roberts. As J.D. Robb, Roberts has published a series of futuristic science fiction police procedurals, which were all a part of her In Death series. As of today, Roberts has published around 39 books in that series. Roberts has also written a story of a magazine under another pseudonym Jill March and has also occasionally written as Sarah Hardesty.
Roberts was the first author to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. And it is said till today, her novels had spent a combined 948 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list, including 176 weeks in the number-one spot. Several of her early novels have been reprinted by Silhouette and have been instant bestsellers once again.
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- Nora Roberts and her first husband divorced in 1983, and in 1985 she met her second husband after hiring him to build her bookshelves. And her husband owns a bookstore called Turn the Page, where one can order a signed copy of Roberts.
- Between 1982 and 1984 she wrote 23 novels. It wasn’t until 1985, when her romance novel Playing the Oddsbecame an instant hit with readers.
- Between 1991 and 2001 Nora Roberts wrote 68 novels, all of which have made it to the New York Times’bestsellers list.
- In 1192, when Roberts moved to Putnam the publisher could not keep up with her high novel output. They encouraged her to publish under a pseudonym so they could publish more of her work. And that’s how she ended up writing as J D Robb.
- In the years 1999 and 2000 Nora Robert’s novels accounted for four out of five bestselling romance novels in the U.S. And in 2000 she had 13 bestsellers to her name.
- Nora Roberts writes eight hours each day, reportedly even when on vacation. She writes three drafts of all her novels before the final one is sent to the publisher. And she has name Uniball Gel Impact in black as her favourite pen.
- Nora Roberts’ 100thbook was Montana Sky, published in 1996. Her 200th novel was The Witness, published in 2012.
- Roberts’ estimated net worth is $150 million. She has also won many awards for her novels including Golden Medallion awards, RITA awards, and Quill awards.