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Truckee romance author writes first single title

Renee Shadforth

Truckee-resident and best-selling author Jill Shalvis admits romance isn’t exactly the deepest, most complicated form of literature.

“This is definitely not your Oprah pick,” Shalvis said of her new romance novel, “The Street Where She Lives.”

The new book is a departure for Shalvis, who has written more than two-dozen category romance novels. “The Street Where She Lives” is her first single-title book.

The Truckee author said she is trying to move away from the category books (novels grouped by subject matter like “erotic,” “mysterious” or “humorous”) because the single-title novels are more of a challenge. Single titles, she said, tend to have a bigger story with a smaller element of romance.

Despite the challenge, Shalvis says writing romance is still enjoyable.

“I understand what I’m doing isn’t brain surgery – it’s more like brain candy,” she said. “It’s fun and it has its place. Some people like to sit in front of the TV; other people read romance novels.”

And people are reading a lot of the genre, because romance novels sell – and they sell big. Total sales for romance novels last year exceeded $1.63 billion, which made the genre the leading popular fiction seller, according to Romance Writers Review.

“It’s a very specific audience – you either read romance or you don’t,” Shalvis said.

Why are so many people reading so many romance novels?

“Because people want their happy endings in today’s world,” Shalvis said, laughing.

The author says people find comfort in romance’s recipe: Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy and girl reunite. However, the exciting part for readers is how the author takes the reader through the formula.

“That’s the story,” Shalvis said.

And in “The Street Where She Lives,” there is more story than in Shalvis’ past books, she said. The novel is character-driven, rather than plot-driven like many romances. The characters’ pasts are a large part of the story, which gives them depth.

Her newest book also took her longer to write. Where category books take her two and a half months to complete, “The Street Where She Lives” took Shalvis nearly five months.

“It was truly research for the first time,” she said.

To gain more depth for the novel’s heroine – a cartoonist – Shalvis researched what it was like to work in that field. To know more about the hero – a well-traveled photojournalist – Shalvis read books about Mexico and Africa.

Shalvis isn’t a typical dark and brooding prolific novelist. She’s spunky – while maintaining intelligence – and has a sense of humor that she says shows through in her writing.

Shalvis’ departure from category romance novels is not a permanent move. She doesn’t think she will ever leave category books.

“I don’t ever see myself leaving romance, quite honestly,” she says, pausing. “Reality is never as fun to me as fiction is.”

More on Jill Shalvis and upcoming events

— Shalvis is a three-time National Readers’ Choice Award winner, an Amazon.com and Waldenbooks bestseller, and a RITA Award nominee from the Romance Writers of America.

— Shalvis has very loyal fans, and she gets e-mail from them on a daily basis.

— She believes roughly 95 percent of her readers are female, although she does hear from the occasional male reader.

— Shalvis has three children: Kelsey, 13, Megan, 10, and Courtney, 9. Although Shalvis admits to sneaking romance novels at age 13, her girls are not allowed to read her books. “My books are R-rated,” she says. “I don’t let them see R-rated movies, so…”

— Shalvis go on her first-ever book tour, beginning later this month. She will appear on the KOLO program “Daybreak” on Oct. 17. She will appear at the Reno Barnes and Noble for a book signing that day at 2 p.m. On Oct. 18 at 2 p.m., Shalvis will appear for a book signing at Borders in Reno.

— Jill Shalvis has a Web site: http://www.jillshalvis.com.


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