Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
Hello, my name is Matilda Martel. It’s a pen name. I write steamy contemporary romance. Although, I sometimes write historical and sci-fi steamy romance, too. What is steamy romance? It’s what is referred to as open-door romance. It abides by all the rules of the genre. Happy endings are a must. Typical romantic tropes are used and expanded upon but instead of stopping at a kiss and fading to black behind closed doors, the reader doesn’t have to use their imagination. Is it the same as erotica? No, it is not. Erotica concentrates on sex. Steamy romance is about the romance. If I remove the graphic details, you still get a funny, quirky, sweet sometimes cheesy romance about two people who will have a happy ending. If you remove sex from erotica, you pretty much have nothing. That’s the difference.
What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
I don’t write from life. I write fiction. I write romance—a romanticized picture of two people falling in love. It’s meant to be over the top. It’s supposed to be unrealistic and swoon-worthy. Romance readers don’t want real life, just like science fiction readers don’t want to pick up a science textbook. They want to be entertained and I want to keep the ladies happy.
What inspires/inspired your creativity?
I’m inspired by art and music. One lyric in a song sparks one thing, mixed with a trope, coupled with a photograph and a line from a movie. This is how my ideas are born. After that I plot and try to figure out what kind of heroine I want to create and what kind of hero serves her best. I write fast. I write for the market. I’m not attempting to write the great American novel. Maybe, later.
How do you deal with creative block?
I write through it. I write two or three things at the same time and when one falters, I move on to the next and keep going.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
Not trusting your instinct when you know something is just not working. I don’t wait until the end to edit. If I’m uncomfortable with the path I’m taking, I will start rewriting my first draft midway. I’ve saved myself so much time trusting my gut. I can plot and plot, but when it comes out on paper, things change and some times, your plot doesn’t work. You need to change courses before you get too far.
Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
I work on titles and covers while I plot. Sometimes a title inspires the whole thing. Song lyrics inspire titles, just a word or two. Poetry. A movie title that switch around in your head. A common phrase with a twist. Inspiration is everywhere.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
I try not to read them. Some are great and give you something to work with but half of the time, they’re just mean and leave no constructive criticism. There are some people who make it a habit of saying cruel things and yet keep reading your books. But you need to let it roll off your back. You wrote a book. You did it. Let people say what they want. You’re living your dream.
How has your creation process improved over time?
I make more time to read, study my craft and plot stories long before I begin to write.
Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
Both. I write to please myself, but I want to sell books. I don’t write niche romance. I don’t want to write something because it pleases me and hope a handful of people read it. I look at trends and try to write stories that revolve around popular tropes. When I’m a bigger name, I can have more freedom to write whatever I want. I’m not there yet.
What role do emotions play in creativity?
Depression can stunt my creativity. I lost my mother recently and it’s slowed my progress. I typically public three novellas a month. I know I won’t reach that this month.
Do you have any creativity tricks?
I scroll through stock photos or peruse Pinterest to get inspiration for stories.
What are your plans for future books?
I have about six or seven plotted now. Contemporary romance. Romantic comedies.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I have a Masters in History. I taught college level History for three years after graduate school. I’m a francophile. My husband and I visit Paris every year. I’m an ambivert, a dachshund lover, the middle child, and until I started writing romance, I hardly ever read it. Once I set my mind to it, I devoured catalogs and now I’m a full-fledged romance book junkie.