Welcome to Behind the Pen. Today I’m joined by Robby Dennis, who has taken her writing dreams into her own hands by self-publishing her first novel, Love in Speranza, which will be released on August 1st.
When did you start writing and what was the catalyst?
I have an old box in my shed, filled with hand written and illustrated stories dating back perhaps to when I was five or six years of age. As a migrant, I struggled with the English language. Even now I look at my sentences and wonder should there be a comma there? Going back and forth to Sicily, because my father couldn’t make up his mind where he wanted to build a life, left me struggling with many aspects of schooling. I could neither write well in English nor in Italian. Needless to say, it didn’t stop me. I was an avid reader so that helped.
My stories became more substantial in high school. I wrote every night and illustrated my work and then took the WIP to school for my friends to read. Basically, I incorporated all of them into my story and it became like a serial. I did this for years.
I stopped writing in my early twenties, as motherhood took over. My biggest problem was never finishing a story. I was never a plotter, so I would start writing organically and then come to a grinding halt. I gave up. Even reading became difficult as I developed type 2 Diabetes at thirty-seven years of age. I kept falling asleep each time I tried. I became addicted to TV.
Three years ago, my life changed after having Gastric By-pass surgery. My Diabetes became controlled and I lost a lot of weight.
My joy for life returned.
One day I was bored and there was nothing on TV so I sat down at my computer…
How many novels have you written? How many of these have you published?
In the three years since, I have completed eight 110k word novels, some are heavily edited and ready to publish, while a few others need rewrites. The first five I wrote in the first year. (I had a lot to say!) They were so raw and poorly crafted. I spent the next two years learning, improving and rewriting. Love in Speranza is my seventh and the one I pitched at RWA conference last year. After a favourable rejection and re-evaluating what I wanted, I decided to self-publish. It comes out on the 1st of August, followed closely by the very first novel I penned, The Sicilian List.
What is your favourite scene from one of your novels and why?
That’s a hard one to answer, but I think I always enjoy writing and re-reading any scene where the characters become aware how incomplete their lives are without each other. That poignant moment when they realise the person before them holds the key to their heart and happiness.
How would you describe your most recent novel to a new reader?
Love in Speranza is a steamy love story within a love story. It’s a place where dreams and hope seem to have lost their way. It takes you on a journey of heartbreak and loss, to an everlasting bond that cannot be broken. It’s about love in action, forgiving offences and overcoming obstacles. It’s an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. It’s a story where you can’t help fall in love with the people, the culture, and ultimately with the idea that no matter what, love always prevails.
Where do you normally write? Is it in the same place every day or are you all over the place writer?
I write at my computer desk every day. Sometimes I listen to music when I need to shut the world out, or get in the mood. I get my best inspiration first thing in the morning, when my brain is sharp and focused, especially after coffee. Some days I don’t achieve much, while other days I’m filled with ideas, but those are the days I usually have to go to work! Ideas pop into my head 24/7.
What other genre would you like to try your hand at writing and why?
I’ve written a rural, and enjoyed it immensely. It comes with a personal back story to be shared another time. I mostly enjoy writing serials. I like linking stories to each other, much like life. We are all intertwined with one another in some way, much like the movie Love Actually. I’m a huge Sci-Fi fan, so I could see myself dabbling in that at some stage. I adore reading historicals, but I’m much too lazy to do the research required. I’m very much a believer of “write what you know.”
What do you like doing when you’re not writing?
Ok, well I can’t write that down! However, I do love reading and watching movies. I adore food, way too much. I dream about travelling, but can’t afford to do much of it, so I write about it. I love to entertain, play board games, and dance. In my head, I sing like Diana Krall (a female Michael Buble`) so I’m constantly listening to music. I love being in the same space as my husband, even if it’s back to back on our computers.
What authors and types of books do you love the most?
I found a second-hand book in a box and decided to try something different. It was a historical by Brenda Joyce with an eye-catching cover. I didn’t think I would like it, as my impression of that genre was “boring, bogged down with details and straight laced.” It was also thick and I didn’t want to read a book that would take forever to get to the good bit at the end. I have no idea how I came to that conclusion. I was so wrong.
Anyway, I read it and couldn’t put it down. Ha, I had no idea books had evolved so much. After that, I became intrigued and read everything else Brenda wrote (I think around 45 novels). I was curious to see how romance novels had evolved. She tackled pirates, dukes, time travelling highlanders, historical sleuths and even contemporaries. I was hooked. Imagine how devastated I was when I discovered she had put her pen down after falling in love and taking time to enjoy her own romance story. I guess she will write again one day, but I had to find some new material. The short answer is that I will read any genre if it’s written well, pacey and hot!
I’ve personally contacted my favs on RWA, some I have yet to discover. There aren’t enough hours in the day!
Do you have an all-time favourite book? Why is this book so significant to you?
While on holidays in Sicily six years ago, I read a novel by Belinda Alexandra called Tuscan Rose. I couldn’t put it down. It had everything in it that I liked and it had me intrigued and guessing right to the end. Strangely it also intimidated me. I felt inadequate as a writer, and decided there was no point aspiring to publish. I would never be able to create something so amazing. I realised years later that I don’t need to duplicate her work, but develop my own unique style.
Where do you draw your inspiration from? How do you fill up the creativity well?
I don’t want to sound like a cliché, but Paul my husband has shown me what true love is all about. We’ve been together for thirty-six years and have seen some hard times where murder and divorce were bandied about. We dug deep and utilised our mutual spiritual beliefs to build a life together. I also draw my inspiration from watching other people, learning from life’s lessons, watching movies, reading jaw dropping books and chocolate. My well never runs dry. When I finish a book I think, what next? I literally have no idea… then a day later the characters come calling and a story unfolds.
Can you tell us something about yourself that you’d like your readers to know?
My life is an open book. I’m not shy about sharing with others some of the lessons I’ve learnt, even if it puts me in a bad light. I tackle the taboo and cringe-worthy stuff that people find hard to talk about. Usually, I bring a bit of humour into it.
Thanks is extended to Robby for joining me here at Behind the Pen and allowing us to get to know her a little better. Wishing her the best of luck with her upcoming release. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Love in Speranza, it’s available from Amazon.