We are lucky enough to have Avon Romance author Nico Rosso with us today to chat it up with our own uberfan Ginny!
GINNY LURCOCK FROM PURE TEXTUALITY [GINNY]: First and foremost, just let me say that the first ARC I ever read was “The Last Night” and it was FANTASTIC. Seriously, romance and super zombies. What more could a girl ask for?
Okay, now that I got that out of my system…
Steampunk in the Wild West is one of my favorite genres (and it is a genre, because I said so). How did you know? Seriously though… What made the two of you choose such a unique setting for a book?
NICO ROSSO [NICO]: First off, thanks for inviting me, Ginny. And thanks for the shout out for “The Last Night.” Writing that one almost had me wishing for the apocalypse so I could ride around the wasteland on a motorcycle.
But to answer your question: Zoë and I had been plotting her first Ether Chronicle story and building the concept of the Man O’ Wars predominantly in Europe and nearby. It got us to thinking that there was a whole other world of stories to be told. I’ve always been a big fan of Westerns (from the white hat good guys of the serials to the moral ambiguity of the Spaghetti Westerns), and the steampunk elements made perfect sense to drive the stakes of those kinds of tales even higher.
GINNY: How is it taking turns writing novellas with your wife? Do you ever argue about how you want the series to go?
NICO: It’s a ton of fun working on these stories with Zoë. We often think that the other people at diners and restaurants must think we’re some kind of crazy. They’d only catch snippets of conversations like, “…then he uses the captain’s knife to pin his hand to the deck…” or “…after she drains the ether tanks, the ship falls while they’re kissing…” (we haven’t used either of these yet, but keep an eye out)
Because our individual stories are set so far apart, with only some character crossover, there isn’t a lot of arguing about where things are headed. And when we do disagree, it’s all very civil and level headed as we weigh each other’s wants. The plastic weapons don’t come out until it’s time to write an action scene.
GINNY: Speaking of the books being novellas, do you find it’s easier or harder to write a well rounded story in 100 pages?
NICO: It’s a challenge I like. So far in writing romance, I haven’t written a full length novel and I’m used to the constraints in this shortened form. Because there’s a lot of action in my stories, the novella is wound like clock and usually speeds forward without a lot of side stories. I think about writing longer stories and believe the challenge now would be loosening up the plot enough to air out the action and letting the characters breathe a bit.
GINNY: (I honestly never thought I would have to ask a dude this question) I’ve noticed a lot of people saying that they only read authors of the female persuasion. Do you ever feel like you gender holds you back in your chosen genre?
NICO: If it does hold me back, it’s somewhere behind the scenes. No reader or editor has ever told me directly they didn’t buy my book because I’m a male author. If that’s the case, I’ll never know about it. So far, everyone I’ve met has been either very positive about having guys write romance, or has treated me like just another author (which is great, too).
GINNY: And speaking of your chosen genre, what are your thoughts on people who complain that romantic angles just muck up “perfectly good” sci-fi/fantasy/UF/etc stories?
NICO: That point of view is very narrow. It’s hard to find a compelling story that doesn’t have some elements of romance in it. Whether something is categorized as Romance just depends on how foregrounded the emotional element is. Investing a character’s heart in the story is a good way of increasing the stakes and making things relevant to the readers. If the characters care, then we care.
Think of one of literature’s greatest heroes, Odysseus. His is an early adventure narrative, filled with action and peril, on a ship full of men. But at the core is a romance. All the while, he is trying to get home to his wife.
GINNY: Bonus question: You’re stranded on a desert island. Would you rather your only companion be a talking monkey with a pack a day smoking habit (there is a never ending supply of cigarettes, it’s a magical island I guess) or a non-talking dragon. Who do you pick?
NICO: Definitely non-talking dragon. Ask Zoë and she’ll tell you I don’t have any problem talking/mumbling to myself (especially while writing), so one-sided conversations wouldn’t be much of an issue. And words aren’t always necessary, anyway. I get a lot of my life’s inspiration from observing. There’s a lot we can learn, and say, with just our eyes.
GINNY: Thanks so much for taking to time to answer my questions. Now if you’ll excuse me I must go and read all your and Zoe’s books in a totally non-obsessive fashion.