July 24, 2009

This week I’m interviewing Judah Raine, author of THE LOOK, A THICK BLACK LINE and STILL RUNNING, and the creator of the Classic Romance Revival Readers and Writers Group. Scoot in a little closer and learn about one of the kindest and most driven authors I am blessed to be acquainted with.

Hey Jude! Thanks for popping in at The Balance Writer. Please, tell us where you’re from and a little about your writing and background.

Hi Danielle - it's great to be here, and thanks so much for having me along. I'm based in a little leafy suburb of Durban, South Africa, called Westville, where I share a house on the banks of a river with my interior designer daughter and our "zoo". Being a farmer's daughter, this little patch of "greenzone" slap bang in the middle of suburbia suits me down to the ground. Back here in SA, we have a saying that you can take a girl from the bush, but you can't take the bush from the girl, and I guess I'm the proof of that. All my books to date are set in SA, and I tend to gravitate to bush and bundu for my settings - the rural places where "community is king" and life operates on a level far removed from the ceaseless buzz of city life. I love the wide open spaces, the huge African panoramas and sweeping landscapes, and I love how the out of the way places have a personality all their own, and offers so much to the explorer of human emotions, romance being top of the list (of course!)

I know you have several online ships you captain. Would you like to share a little about Classic Romance Revival (CRR)?

The vision for CRR emerged from a growing awareness of a need among writers, readers and publishers of "classic" romance to redevelop this particular genre in the marketplace. Generally, with the current almost overwhelming demand for "hotter" romance, many of us felt that "classic" needed a little more attention, and CRR was born. Essentially it is a "home" for all lovers of "classic", which aims to provide opportunities to build relationship among readers, writers and publishers, where readers can find books, authors and publishers, specifically within this genre, publishers can reach authors and readers, and authors reach publishers and readers. We also work together to provide support, encouragement and platforms for existing and aspiring authors. Currently we have an "authors only" Yahoo group for affiliate authors (a think tank and admin group), our public Yahoo group at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/classicromancerevival, as well as our blog at: http://www.classicromancerevival.com/blog where affiliated authors may post, and which is currently our "headquarters" on the net.

CRR Reviews was recently launched, and is growing steadily, and offers a professional review service to authors and publishers within the "classic" genre. Our official website will be launched very soon, along with a whole bunch of other services which include the newest "ship of the line", Classic Promotions. I could go on forever, but please use the links to check us out, and you're welcome to email me at judahraine@yahoo.com with any questions.

Writers tend to be obsessive people. Do you collect anything (shoes, coke bottles, purple cows)?

Pets... do they count? Lol, I currently have seven - two German Shepherd/Doberman/Timberwolf, plus two of their siblings I'm boarding for the owners, two cats, and a Great Dane masquerading as a miniature Maltese Poodle. Books... maybe I'll open my own library soon. Anything "crafty" (I'm an arts and crafts fanatic). I have a stationery fetish too. Oh, and rocks. For the garden. Can't grow anything without the odd rock around...

How do you feel about the direction of Classic Romance publishing right now?

I suppose I should say this is my humble opinion. Then I can add that, seeing the rapid growth of CRR as a group, it seems there are a lot of people out there who share said humble opinion... Simply put, I think we need to remember that "classic" is what established romance as a genre and while I'm all for growth, change and the emergence of other types of romance, classic remains a significant player in the industry.

At the same time, with the current overwhelming demand for "hot stuff", I honestly believe that classic has been a little neglected in favour of the "faster selling" new kids on the block. While I fully respect everyone's right to read, write and publish whatsoever they choose, and have entrenched "peaceful co-existence" with all romance genres as one of CRR's fundamental precepts, I believe that supporters of "classic" need to come together and to find a shared voice to highlight the genre once again and rebuild it's popularity.

Demands change, new things come and go, but classic is still there and will be there tomorrow, and I think all stakeholders need to recognise that and continue to grow the genre and give it the attention it deserves. It has proved itself a "stayer" through all the changes, and when new trends fade (as is always the case) this should, and can, remain a solid foundation for the industry providing it gets the attention it deserves. CRR has already proved that there is a growing group of people frustrated at the apparent "lack" of classic material. I believe this will continue and even grow over the next while and we should be ready for it.

You also are an author. Please share your books with us--including your new release!

I currently have three books "out there" - Still Running was my first, set in KwaZulu-Natal's "racing country", and it explores the power of secrets and fear to determine the course of our lives, and the power of love to heal and set free. The Look is set in the back of beyond, in rural KwaZulu-Natal's midlands region, where the rolling hills climb steadily to the foothills of the mighty Drakensberg Mountains. The heroine comes looking for facts and discovers a truth far simpler and deeper than she ever imagined, one which turns her life inside out and challenges everything she has come to believe. She also finds the one man in the universe who can see and speak into her soul with a single look. My third book, A Thick Black Line, is a romantic suspense, where emotional entanglement and growth is explored against a backdrop of a dark and sinister past that seems set on repeating itself and love is challenged to the limit.

If you could hire help to make life easier for you to be an author, which would it be? Maid, Butler, Personal Assistant, Chef, Chauffer, Gardener, Personal Trainer, or In-house Editor?

Um... all of the above? Lol, and then maybe add "zoo-keeper" to the list... actually what I really need is a really good cloning scientist. But please, not for the pets - A couple more of ME would be really good... If I had to pick, though, I think Chef would be way up top (hate cooking) and maybe then maid (hate housekeeping almost as much). Being creative-obsessive, I pretty much have the rest of it covered, and a butler would just irritate me (they hover, don't they? I couldn't do hovering. Unless they were robotic, and I could just hit the remote button when I needed them...)

One of the services CRR now provides is reviews. Have you ever received a review you disliked and how did you handle it?

I guess I've been fortunate (and long may that last, lol) and never had one that was snarky or I really disliked per se. I did have one where I felt the review wasn't "accurate" - the reviewer seemed to have a "thing" about all things Australian, and decided SA was close enough to be measured on that particular scale. While the review itself, when it covered the plot and the actual writing of it, was actually good, there was a "negativity" which I felt was inappropriately prejudiced. On the whole, I regard reviews as NOT being "sales tools" but rather "growth tools". Of course none of us want to get a really eeeuw one, but I think it's important to see them as something we can use as a basis for improvement - I like to hear how other people "see" things in my books. It makes me more aware as a writer, possibly can highlight weak spots and provide direction for improvement. Most of all, I think we need to keep in mind that reviewers are human, like the rest of us. They are not the Final Great Oracle on All Literary Romance. They have an obligation to be professional and objective and anything outside of that should be ignored. CRR reviewers are all taught to be honest but constructive, i.e. to use reviews as an opportunity for growing an author rather than destroying them.

Do you have any upcoming projects you’re working on that you’d like to let us in on?

Right now my main focus is the launch of the CRR Website, along with marketing opportunities for authors and publishers, and hopefully some more reader-focused fun which I can't give too many details on right now as it's still under discussion. Along with that will be the Classic Promotions, which will offer packages for authors and publishers, and even more promotional benefits.

Writing wise, things have been a little slow due to getting CRR up and running and other personal "challenges", but I have two wip's in progress and I'm currently researching for a series on the British 1820 Settlers in South Africa - a fascinating group who endured an enormous amount, physically and emotionally.

Links and information?

Website: http://www.judahraine.com
Blog: http://www.judahraine.com/romancewriteup
The Neverending Story at my RomanticSynonymous Blog: http://judahraine.blogspot.com
You can also find me on FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, Authors Den, Book Place.... find all the links on my website!

Thanks so much for this opportunity to chat with you!

Thanks for stopping by and answering my questions, and for all that you do. I hope everyone learned a little more about you and about publishing and working online! We wish you luck spreading the word about the revival of Classic Romance.



Cheryl said...

Great interview, Dani and Jude! I really enjoyed learning more about you and your writing, Jude. I think living in SA must present a lot of challenges that we don't even consider. Very interesting! I have your books on my tbr list--just got to make the time to sit down and READ. Let me also just say how much I appreciate the launch of CRR and the effort you put into making it something special!

Miss Mae said...

Hi Judah, and Danielle!

Lovely interview, and interesting to read about SA. Love the fact that you're a fellow animal lover. :) Where would the world be without our furry/feathered friends? :)

Hope much success to you, Judah, and to all your endeavors. :)

Hywela Lyn said...

Hi Danielle and Judah

Fascinating interview. I'm a CRR author myself, and would like to say 'thank you' to Judah for all you're doing on our behalf.

I'm an animal lover and also a lover of the great outdoors away from the noise and bussle of towns, too Judah. I've never visited South Africa, but was intrigued by it wne I read a book called 'The House On The Kopje' years ago. I can't remember who wrote it but I loved the book.

Your books sound great, especially
'The Look' although the other two sound brilliant too - oh dear my wish list grows eer longer!

Rebecca J Vickery said...

Hi Danielle and Judah,

A really interesting interview and we all appreciate the focus and support for traditional, classic romance. I think it is making a major comeback as readers get burned out on the "hotter" reads and return to the roots of romance.
Great job, Ladies.

Sandra Sookoo said...

Great job ladies! I always love getting a closer peek at how other writers live :-)

Lindsay Townsend said...

Excellent interview, Danielle and Jude. I love the SA settings of your novels, jude and love what you're doing for and with CRR.

Danielle - super questions and interview!

Linda Swift said...

I enjoyed this interview, Jude and Danielle. And as a member of CRR also I want to thank you for all your efforts, Jude. How I'd love to have your energy to get things done.

Anonymous said...

Danielle and Jude! Great interview. I loved reading about your life in SA, Jude, and about your "zoo."

Thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into making CRR a comfortable fit for the classics!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Jude and Dani,
Great interview. I would love to visit SA but haven't got there so far. My son went to a weddingin J'burg and he loved it.
You have put in a mighty effort on CRR and I really belive it is going to be something special.

LK Hunsaker said...

Dani, nice interview questions. Thanks for hosting Jude here.

Jude, I had to laugh at the collecting rocks for the garden bit. I do that also. PA is as much rock as dirt, I think, so as I dig them up I save them for landscaping. Very nice answers. I enjoyed reading them.

Celia Yeary said...

Judah and Danielle--wonderful article, here. Like Judah and so many others believe,Classic romance is still the cornerstone of romance. True, many other genres have increased in popularity, and some genres seem to be a potpourri of several, so much so, that sometimes, I don't know what genre it really falls in.
With a "classic" basis, the foundation is there and it will stay.I admit, I've read several "other" genres, just to see what going on--some of them have been very interesting! Enlightenment never hurt anyone. Thanks, and Danielle, I love the premise of your blog.Celia