Someone once told me that with a name like Bliss I’d have to be a romance writer (okay, they might also have mentioned a sex industry worker).
Most of my working life I’ve been a journalist – not the war correspondent, fashion magazine or even tabloid newspaper variety, (rated in my country just under politicians for trustworthiness), but a common variety trade journalist who wrote about travel for the New Zealand travel industry for close to a decade.
I did get to travel a lot (at least until I had a baby and was needed at home) but I didn’t usually sit under a tropical sunset with a cocktail in my hand. Not unless I had a pen and paper in the other and was making notes about whether the mozzies were biting, whether the storm water drain exited on the beach, what the service was like and…well, you get the picture. I got to work in fabulous places, but it was still work.
But was it better than a proper job? Oh yeah.
Now I have another job that on the surface looks glamorous and exciting. I’m a romance writer. Unfortunately not one of the ‘words pour out of me’ romance writers, but the ‘stare at the screen until your forehead bleeds’ variety. Like motherhood, I thought it would be easy and it’s not. Like motherhood I wouldn’t go back, even if I could.
Is it better than a proper job? Oh yeah.
I decided to be a romance writer when I was twelve but then I forgot and did a lot of other things instead. These included getting an arts degree in English and Political Studies at Auckland University, a postgraduate degree in periodical journalism at the University of London, travelling, having my heart broken a couple of times, meeting the right guy, building a house, having a baby – the usual milestones. A significant birthday was the fright I needed to stop TALKING about writing romance at parties and actually DOING it. I pass this tip on to every aspiring novelist – sit down at the computer and put your hands on the keyboard.
In life I try and follow the rules. As the eldest of five girls I was once (and my sisters will say very briefly) in the heady position of setting the rules.
But in fiction it’s a different story.
- First Australasian to win a Golden Heart from Romance Writers of America, a competition for unpublished writers in 2005.
- Romantic Book of the Year winner 2006 (RuBY in Australia) for my debut, MR IMPERFECT. Finalled for the fourth time in 2016 with RISE, the first of my Rock Solid series, which digs into the private and family lives of rock stars.
- My sixteen romance novels have also received numerous accolades (Desert Island Keeper, ‘Best Of’ lists, RT Top Pick, Sizzling Book Club Chat) on reader sites like Dear Author, Smart Bitches and All About Romance.
A tribute to Sandra Hyatt
Once upon a time, the Writegals were four novice writers who hit it off at a writing retreat. They formed a critique group. Depending what was required we acted as critique partners, cheerleaders, sympathy-givers, partners in crime, info exchangers and kickers-in-the-pantsers. All were eventually published by Harlequin – Abby Gaines, Tessa Radley, Karina Bliss and Sandra Hyatt – so we must have been doing some work in between all those good times. We lost Sandra very suddenly in 2011, but she lives on in her books and in the hearts of her family, friends and everyone who had the privilege of knowing her.