Message From The Author

Author's Message

Twice the Romance


"If I have one bit of advice for new authors, it is this: Do not write a twin novel. It's so hard!" says Maya Rodale, whose fiction debut, The Heir and the Spare, releases this month from Berkley Sensation.

While she's not one to follow her own advice, Rodale did take mama Maria Rodale's several years ago when they co-wrote the women's empowerment/self-help tome, It's My Pleasure: A Revolutionary Plan to Free Yourself From Guilt and Create the Life You Want (Free Press). Maria, who came up with the idea for the book, was interested in the many connections and interweavings of women's history, religious history and romance novels. So she suggested -- Maya says she "insisted" -- her daughter read romance novels as research.

"At first I was intellectually snobby about romance novels," Rodale, whose family runs the Emmaus, Pa.-based publishing company, says. "I was too busy reading 'the classics.' But as soon as I got into them, it was no longer about research but just for the fun of it."

Adding that she sees romance novels as a form of self-help book -- "seeing characters confront and overcome obstacles in a loving, good way is a good model" -- the New York University grad student talks about her natural
progression from romance fan to romance author.

While lunching with her mother and her It's My Pleasure agent, Rodale was lamenting how she couldn't get an agent
for a chick lit novel she'd written.

"My agent said, 'Maya, you need to be writing romances right now,'" Rodale recalls. "I told her I would have one for
her in three months."

The result is The Heir and the Spare, a good twin/bad twin, Regency-set love story. It's part one of Rodale's Negligent Chaperone series. (She's currently working on book two, featuring the redeemed "bad twin," which will release next year.)

"One thing I love about romance is how you achieve fantastic resolution without killing anyone," Rodale says, adding that initially she was going to break this rule and bump off the evil twin. But he was granted a reprieve. "Had I not thought of a good story for him he still might be dead," she says, adding that his original death scene "made my mom cry when she read it."

Even though she counsels authors not to write a twin novel, Rodale does note that mistaken-identity plots can be fun because they're about "looking past physical appearance and seeing the real person beneath. Of course, we might say that all romance novels are based on that, whether they feature twins or not." -- Liz French

Read Book Review ›