Author Spotlight: Nora Roberts
Despite the huge archive of romance novels and novelists, there are still a handful who manage to rise above the so-called cliché genre. Nora Roberts, author of many hits such as Montana Sky and Northern Lights, is one of the few names that come to mind when the genre is mentioned. But when you write over 200 novels, you’re bound to be remembered by many.
The youngest of five children, Eleanor Marie Robertson was born and raised in Maryland. Everyone in her family loved to read, so most of her childhood was spent discovering stories or making her own. She attended a Catholic school and ended up getting married in 1968, right after she graduated from high school. She was a stay-at-home mom to her two sons, Dan and Jason. Her time at home allowed her enough time to develop her writing.
She started writing in 1979 and fell in love with the writing process. She was able to write six manuscripts in a short amount of time. She submitted all the manuscripts to leading romance publisher Harlequin, but they were all rejected.
In 1980, Silhouette books took advantage of the pool of manuscripts which Harlequin had already rejected, including Robertson’s. Her first novel, Irish Thoroughbred, was published in 1981 by Silhouette under the penname Nora Roberts. She published 23 novels between 1982 and 1984, all under Silhouette. She divorced her first husband in 1983 and remarried two years later.
In 1987, she wrote for Bantam, then after five years for Putnam, where she moved from solely paperback novels to both hardcover and paperbacks. Her fourth hardcover release, Montana Sky (1996), reached hardcover bestseller lists.
Although she’s made a name for herself in the romance genre, she wanted to write romantic suspense novels. In 1995, her agent convinced publishers at Putnam to allow Roberts to write suspense novels under a pseudonym, JD Robb. Under the pseudonym, Roberts published the In Death series, a saga of science fiction police procedurals taking place in mid-21st century New York. The series placed great emphasis on the developing relationship between the two leads, classifying the series as romantic suspense. There are a total of 39 In Death novels to date, and more are scheduled.
Roberts wrote stories so fast that in 1996, she published her 100th novel, Montana Sky. In 2012, The Witness became her 200th. Other than her writing speed, Roberts has been recognized for the quality of her work. Since 1999, all of Roberts’s work (both as herself and as JD Robb) made the New York Times bestseller list. A total of 195 of Roberts’s novels were New York Times bestsellers, 29 of which debuted at number 1, 37 of which were under the JD Robb pseudonym and one of which was a “collaboration” with JD Robb. Roberts was also the first Hall of Fame inductee of the Romance Writers of America (RWA). She was awarded an RWA Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997, which was renamed to honor her in 2008. As of 2012, she has won 21 RITA awards, the highest honor given to authors and books in the genre.
Nora Roberts continues to write romance novels. Today, she and her husband co-own a bookstore. She gets in touch with her readers and fans through her Facebook page and her website. She also writes on her official blog, Fall into the Story, about her books, her conversations with readers, and her home life.
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