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January 26 , 2011

Nora Roberts: A Biography



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*** Part 2 in the Dead Man's Ink Series. Contains scenes of violence and serious themes. Part 3 in the series will be out Jan 2016 ***When people get too close to me, they wind up dead. Blood. Bullet holes. Stab wounds. I’ve kept my identity secret to protect the ones I love, but now the most dangerous man in my world knows exactly who I am……

Nora Roberts scoffs at spineless hero­ines … “Weak, passive people don’t make good characters,” she says. She is equally brutal about needy men: “If a man wants someone to take care of him, he should get a dog as a companion and live with his mother.” - Washington Post

It was a dark and stormy night - although it may not have been stormy or even dark, but the infamous blizzard of February 1979 was enough to lock Nora Roberts inside with her two young sons board games and a rapidly decreasing supply of chocolate. For something new to do, she grabbed a tablet and began writing her first novel in longhand and voila, she had found what she was meant to do. By 1980 her first novel was published From such humble beginnings, Nora Roberts today has written over 200 books, countless articles and stories and earns over $60 million each year. Not bad for a highschool graduate with no formal college or writing training.


Her writing is full of strong powerful women, able to solve problems, and able enter into healthy solid relationships with men. Another thing that makes her writing unique is that unlike most romance writing, the point of view is not always female. Roberts, with four older brothers and two sons, understands the male point of view - something she learned since she was surrounded by men all her life. (She finally has a grand-daughter, so the streak of only male relatives is over.) This often gives her books a new perspective and understanding of those stalwart heroes of romantic fiction. Her women are quite capable and not waiting to be rescued. They are equal adversaries of the men, and their relationships capture the sexual tension that permeates each page. Roberts’ lovers hover between the sublime and the mundane, treating sex as a wonderful useful outlet, but it is not the all encompassing flame that obfuscates the remainder of life.

One of the reasons that romance literature is so soundly denigrated by reviewers and literary types is that it is fiction written by women for women. When a man writes a “romance” novel, it is immediately categorized as something else, so that it won’t fall under the chick lit stigma. As Roberts says “Unless "a guy writes one and they call it something else. And it gets reviewed and made into a movie … A woman writes it and it's just one of those," she says. "I mean, how long are you going to fight that battle?"

Meg Cabot, the author of the Princess Diaries novels, says is the cornerstone of her success. "Her heroes and heroines are so strong yet so flawed. They have these personal handicaps, and that's something that's made Nora's books so different to many written in the past, because the characters are so relatable."

Roberts keeps her finger on the pulse of her readers’ interests and produces works that reflects the times. For instance in her The Circle Trilogy (2006), Roberts draws upon the rising interest in the supernatural, Irish mythology, wicca, witches, alternate worlds, vampire hunters, and of course vampires at war with humanity. She has three couples and despite adversity, produces a happy ending. Her three female characters are strong women; capable of leading nations and battles, conjuring spells and demon slaying as everyday occurrences. Her male characters are hot tempered, testy and brave, equal to the women in every way - even the ‘vampire hero’. Roberts fills her books with pop culture references, with characters drinking a “coke” or watching TV, using a laptop or even copying shower schematics to translate to a more medieval world. What works best though is the interplay between the characters, the sexual tension and its ultimate release.

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