"Every writer has to figure out what works best - and often has to select and discard different tools before they find the one that fits." -- Nora Roberts
Nora Roberts (born Eleanor Marie Robertson, October 10, 1950 in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA), is a bestselling American author of more than 165 romance novels. She writes as J.D. Robb for the "In Death" series, and has also written under the pseudonym Jill March. Additionally, some of her works were published in the UK as Sarah Hardesty.
Nora Roberts was the first author to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. As of 2006, her novels had spent a combined 660 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List, including 100 weeks in the number-one spot. Over 280 million copies of her books are in print, including 12 million copies sold in 2005 alone.
"Action, reaction, motivation, emotion, all have to come from the characters. Writing a love scene requires the same elements from the writer as any other.""Actually, I find it great fun to develop family series with lots of characters.""And each book has to receive your best effort every single time. No slacking.""Aren't most romance heros, or heros in fiction of any kind, generally superior to real men? Same goes for heroines and real women.""Certainly the plagiarism, and dealing with the fallout of it, was the most difficult thing I've ever faced since I started writing.""Every single book is a challenge.""For over a year I continued to submit mss, and have them rejected - the last few with rejection letters indicated the story was pretty good, but I was American.""I believe strongly in writing groups such as Romance Writers Of America that offer support, information and networking.""I decided to write category romance as I'd recently discovered them, and enjoyed them.""I do indeed write on the road. My laptop goes with me everywhere.""I don't base any character on a real person, and really don't do composites either. I make them up.""I don't believe for one moment you can write well what you wouldn't read for pleasure.""I don't fiddle or edit or change while I'm going through that first draft.""I don't think you can write - at least not well - if you don't love stories, love the written word.""I find I use the Internet more and more. It's just an invaluable tool. I do most of my research on the Net now - and certainly do the bulk of my communicating through email.""I generally write a first draft that's pretty lean. Just get the story down.""I long for typical days, but rarely get them any more.""I loved the process of writing.""I need to write to be happy.""I read a lot - and I read a variety of genres.""I would hope that my writing's cleaner than it was when I started.""I'd always loved to read - and come from a family of readers - but I never thought about writing as a career.""I've gotten to know a number of readers from being online, and really treasure the time I've spent with them.""If you write in category, you write knowing there's a framework, there are reader expectations.""In the summer of '80, Silhouette bought my first book.""Love and magic have a great deal in common. They enrich the soul, delight the heart. And they both take practice.""Mary Stewart will always be my goddess. I can pick up one of her early books - one I've read a dozen times - and still slide right into the story.""My own sense of family, where I came from and what I made for myself is an important part of my life.""One of my greatest pleasures is falling into a story someone else has written.""The most important aspect of any story, to me, is character.""You don't find time to write. You make time. It's my job."
Eleanor Marie Robertson was born on October 10, 1950 in Silver Spring, Maryland, the only daughter and the youngest of five children. She is of Irish descent as both of her parents have Irish ancestors, and has described herself as "an Irishwoman through and through". Her family were avid readers, so books were always important in her life. Although she had always made up stories in her head, Roberts did not write as a child, other than essays for school. She does claim to have "told lies. Really good ones -- some of which my mother still believes." She attended a Catholic school and credits the nuns with instilling in her a sense of discipline. During her sophomore year in high school, Roberts transferred to a local public school, Montgomery Blair High School , where she met her first husband, Ronald Aufdem-Brinke. They married, against her parents' wishes, in 1968, as soon as she had graduated from high school.
The newly married couple settled in Keedysville, Maryland. Roberts's husband worked at his father's sheet-metal business before joining her parents in their lighting company. She stayed home with their sons, Dan and Jason. Calling this her "Earth Mother" years, Roberts spent much of her time doing crafts, including ceramics and sewing her children's clothes. In 1983, the marriage ended in divorce.
Roberts met her second husband, Bruce Wilder, a carpenter, when she hired him to build her bookshelves. They were married in July 1985. Her husband owns and operates a bookstore in Boonsboro, Maryland called Turn the Page Books. Turn the Page Book's story The Roberts also owned the nearby historic Boone Hotel, that was undergoing renovations when it was destroyed by a fire in February, 2008. After 3 million dollars in renovations, Inn Boonsboro opened on February 17, 2009
Roberts believes that pursuing a career as a writer requires discipline: "You're going to be unemployed if you really think you just have to sit around and wait for the muse to land on your shoulder." She concentrates on one novel at a time, writing eight hours a day, every day, even while on vacation. Rather than begin with an outline or plot summary, Roberts instead envisions a key incident, character, or setting. She then writes a short first draft that has the basic elements of a story. After finishing the first draft, Roberts goes back to the beginning of the novel. The second draft usually sees the addition of details, the "texture and color" of the work, as well as a more in-depth study of the characters. She then does a final pass to polish the novel before sending it to her agent, Amy Berkower. She often writes trilogies, finishing the three books in a row so that she can remain with the same characters. When possible, she does the same with the "In Death" books, writing three in a row before returning to contemporary romances. Her trilogies are all released in paperback, as Roberts believes the wait for hardcover editions is too long for the reader.
Roberts does much of her research over the internet, as she has an aversion to flying. Despite this she owns property in County Clare, Ireland and visits the country regularly. Some of her novels are set in Ardmore, County Waterford.
She began to write during a blizzard in February, 1979 while housebound with her two small boys. Roberts states that with three feet of snow, a dwindling supply of chocolate, and no morning kindergarten she had little else to do. While writing down her ideas for the first time, she fell in love with the writing process, and quickly produced six manuscripts. She submitted her manuscripts to Harlequin, the leading publisher of romance novels, but was repeatedly rejected. Roberts says, "I got the standard rejection for the first couple of tries, then my favorite rejection of all time. I received my manuscript back with a nice little note which said that my work showed promise, and the story had been very entertaining and well done. But that they already had their American writer. That would have been Janet Dailey."
In 1980, a new publisher, Silhouette books, formed to take advantage of the pool of manuscripts from the many American writers that Harlequin had snubbed. Roberts found a home at Silhouette, where her first novel, Irish Thoroughbred, was published in 1981. She used the pseudonym Nora Roberts, a shortened form of her birth name Eleanor Marie Robertson, because she assumed that all authors had pen names.
Between 1982 and 1984, Roberts wrote 23 novels for Silhouette. They were published under various Silhouette imprints: Silhouette Sensation, Silhouette Special Edition and Silhouette Desire, as well as Silhouette Intrigue, and MIRA's reissue program. Despite the large number of books she had produced, Roberts did not have real success until 1985, when she released Playing the Odds, the first novel in her MacGregor family series. The book was an immediate bestseller. Sequels followed, and romance readers began to associate her name with multigenerational sagas.
Roberts was instrumental in helping shift the romance novel away from virginal, eighteen-year-old heroines and superficial male portrayals. Her early heroines were much less passive than the norm. Her novels also featured a more in-depth characterization of the hero, because "the books are about two people, and readers should be allowed into the heads and hearts of both." The years spent writing category romance helped hone her ability to create realistic characters. The category romance's short page count forces writers to be able to "paint" their characters "quickly and clearly in a short amount of time." In 1987, she began writing single title books for Bantam. Five years later she moved to Putnam to write single title hard covers as well as original paperbacks. She reached the hardcover bestseller lists with her fourth hardcover release, 1996's Montana Sky. Despite her hardcover success, Roberts has continued to release single-title novels in paperback. Unlike many of her peers who have crossed from category romance to single-title, she still occasionally writes shorter category romances. Her attachment to the shorter category books stems from her years as a young mother of two boys without much time to read, as she "[remembers] exactly what it felt like to want to read and not have time to read 200,000 words."
Roberts and her career were featured in Pamela Regis's A Natural History of the Romance Novel. Regis calls Roberts "a master of the romance novel form, because she "has a keen ear for dialogue, constructs deft scenes, maintains a page-turning pace, and provides compelling characterization." Publishers Weekly lauds her "wry humor and the use of different narrators, two devices that were once rarities" in the romance novel genre.
Many of Roberts's novels deal extensively with families. Roberts believes that her sense of family is an important part of her life and how she developed. Because family is so important in her life, it is also often reflected in her books. Her "characters come from somewhere, and where they come from, good or bad, has a large part in forming who they are and who they can become."
Roberts had long wanted to write romantic suspense novels in the vein of Mary Stewart, but, at the urging of her agent, she concentrated on classic contemporary romance novels while she built a following of readers. After moving to Putnam in 1992, the publishing company quickly realized that they were unable to keep up with Roberts's prolific output. They suggested that she adopt a second pseudonym so that they would be able to publish more of her work each year.Her agent, Amy Berkover, convinced the publishers to allow Roberts to write romantic suspense novels under the new name. Her first romantic suspense novel was published in 1995 under the pseudonym J.D. Robb. The initials "J.D." were taken from her older sons, Jason and Dan, while "Robb" is a shortened form of Roberts. She first decided to use the pseudonym D.J. MacGregor, but right before publication, she discovered that this pseudonym was used by another author.
As J.D. Robb, Roberts has published a series of futuristic science fiction police procedurals. These books, all part of the "In Death" series, feature NYPSD Detective Eve Dallas and her husband Roarke and are set in a mid-21st century New York City. Despite the emphasis on solving a crime in each of the books, the overall theme of the series is the development of the relationship between Eve and Roarke. When the "In Death" series began, neither Roberts nor her publisher acknowledged that she was in fact the author. They hoped to allow the series to stand on its own merits and build its own following. It did, and when readers discovered that Roberts was in fact Robb there was little outcry.
After publishing 18 novels in the "In Death" series, Putnam published the nineteenth, Divided in Death first in hardcover. The book became Roberts's first bestselling novel of 2004.
As of December 2009, Roberts had published 36 books in the In Death series, with more scheduled.
She wrote a story for a magazine titled "Melodies of Love" under the pseudonym Jill March.
Roberts has also been known as Sara Hardesty. When the "Born In" series was released in Britain it carried that name instead of Nora Roberts. She has since changed publishers.
Roberts is remarkably prolific...in 1996 she passed the hundred-novel mark with Montana Sky. In both 1999 and 2000, four of the five novels that USA Today listed as the best-selling romance novels of the year were written by Roberts. Her first appearance on the New York Times Bestseller List came in 1991, and between 1991 and 2001, she had 68 New York Times Bestsellers, counting hardbacks and paperbacks. The New York Times did not review any of those novels. In 2001, Roberts had 10 best-selling mass-market paperbacks, according to Publishers Weekly, not counting those books written under the J.D. Robb name. In September 2001, for the first time Roberts took the numbers 1 and 2 spots on the Publishers Weekly bestseller list, as her romance Time and Again was number one, and her J.D. Robb release Seduction in Death was number two.
Since 1999, every one of Roberts's novels has been a New York Times bestseller, and 124 of her novels have ranked on the Times bestseller list, including twenty-nine that debuted in the number-one spot.
As of 2006, Roberts's novels had spent a combined 660 weeks on the ''New York Times'' Bestseller List, including 100 weeks in the number-one spot. Outside of the United States she is marketed by a single woman, Judy Piatkus of the independently-run company Piatkus Books, which publishes about 150 books a year. Over 280 million copies of her books are in print, including 12 million copies sold in 2005 alone. Her novels have been published in 35 countries.
A founding member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA), Roberts was the first inductee in the organization's Hall of Fame. As of 2006, she has won an unprecedented 19 of the RWA's RITA Awards, the highest honor given in the romance genre.
Two of Roberts' novels, Sanctuary and Magic Moments, had previously been made into TV movies. In 2007, Lifetime Television adapted four Nora Roberts novels into TV movies: Angels Fall starring Heather Locklear, Montana Sky starring Ashley Williams, Blue Smoke starring Alicia Witt, and Carolina Moon starring Claire Forlani. This was the first time that Lifetime had adapted multiple works by the same author. Four more films were released on four consecutive Saturdays in March and April 2009. The 2009 collection included Northern Lights starring LeAnn Rimes, Midnight Bayou starring Jerry O'Connell, High Noon starring Emilie de Ravin, and Tribute starring Brittany Murphy.
Time named Roberts one of their 100 Most Influential People in 2007, saying she "has inspected, dissected, deconstructed, explored, explained and extolled the passions of the human heart." Roberts was one of only two authors on the list, the other being David Mitchell.
Victim of plagiarism
In 1997, another best-selling romance writer, Janet Dailey, admitted to repeatedly plagiarizing Roberts' work. The practice came to light after a reader read Roberts' Sweet Revenge and Dailey's Notorious back-to-back; she noticed several similarities and posted the comparable passages on the Internet. Calling the plagiarism "mind rape," Roberts sued Dailey. Dailey acknowledged the plagiarism and blamed it on a psychological disorder. She admitted that both Aspen Gold and Notorious lifted heavily from Roberts' work. Both of those novels were pulled from print after Dailey's admission. In April 1998, Dailey settled the case. Although terms were not released, Roberts had previously indicated that any settlement funds should be donated to the Literacy Volunteers of America.
In January 2008, Roberts joined the chorus strongly criticizing fellow romance writer Cassie Edwards, who had lifted many passages from much older sources (many in the public domain), without giving credit, forcing Edwards out of the business.
Several of Roberts' books, have been adapted into made-for-tv movies and aired on Lifetime.
The 2007 Collection featured:
The 2009 Collection featured:
Peter Guber's Mandalay TV and Stephanie Germain Prods., produced the eight adaptations.
As Nora Roberts
Golden Medallion awards
Golden Medallion awards were awarded by the Romance Writers of America.
The Heart's Victory: 1983 Golden Medallion for Best Contemporary Sensual Romance
Untamed: 1984 Golden Medallion for Best Traditional Romance
This Magic Moment: 1984 Golden Medallion for Best Contemporary 65-80,000 words, shared with Deirdre Mardon's Destiny's Sweet Errand
Opposites Attract: 1985 Golden Medallion for Best Short Contemporary Romance
A Matter of Choice: 1985 Golden Medallion for Best Long Contemporary Series Romance
One Summer: 1987 Golden Medallion for Best Long Contemporary Series Romance
Brazen Virtue: 1989 Golden Medallion for Best Suspense
RITA Awards are awarded by the Romance Writers of America.
Night Shift: 1992 RITA Award for Best Romantic Suspense
Divine Evil: 1993 RITA Award for Best Romantic Suspense
Nightshade: 1994 RITA Award for Best Romantic Suspense
Private Scandals: 1994 RITA Award for Best Contemporary Single Title
Hidden Riches: 1995 RITA Award for Best Romantic Suspense
Born in Ice: 1996 RITA Award for Best Contemporary Single Title
Born in Ice: 1996 RITA Award for Best Romance of 1995
Carolina Moon: 2001 RITA Award for Best Romantic Suspense
Three Fates: 2003 RITA Award for Best Romantic Suspense
Remember When - Part 1: 2004 RITA Award for Best Romantic Suspense
Birthright: 2004 RITA Award for Best Contemporary Single Title
Quill awards are awarded by the Quills Foundation.
Angels Fall: 2006 Book of the year
Angels Fall: 2006 Romance
Blue Smoke: 2007 Romance
As J.D. Robb
Remember When: 2004 RITA Awards Best Novel winner
Survivor in Death: 2006 RITA Awards Best Novel winner
Many of Roberts' novels have been, or will be, reissued. To avoid confusion, all of Roberts's new releases include a logo that is a circle with the initials "NR" inside, indicating that the book has never been published before.
Little, Denise and Laura Hayden, The Official Nora Roberts Companion, Berkley Books, 2003, ISBN 0-425-18344-0.
Lennard, John, 'Of Pseudonyms and Sentiment: Nora Roberts, J. D. Robb, and the Imperative Mood', in Of Modern Dragons and other essays on Genre Fiction (Tirril: Humanities-Ebooks, 2007), pp. 56—86. ISBN 978-1-84760-038-7