Romancing The Shore

Three Bestselling Maryland Novelists Reveal Their Passion For Writing And Their Love Of The Shore

Written by Katie Riley

What is it about the Shore that inspires writers? The Delmarva region has produced many well-known writers and has influenced countless others, including its fair share of romance authors. Perhaps it is the proximity to water, the lifestyle of its people or the incredible landscape, but there is something about the coast that is particularly stirring to romance novelists. Whether they are setting their books on the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, like Laura Kaye’s Hearts of the Anemoi series, or in the small towns of the Eastern Shore, like Sophie Moss’ Wind Chime series, romance novelists are finding plenty to write about in our part of the world. 

We sat down with three of the area’s best romance novelists to discuss the enduring appeal of romance novels, what keeps them writing and why they love the Shore.

Sophie Moss
Sophie Moss is a USA Today bestselling author of Irish fantasy romances and heartwarming contemporary romances.
A former journalist, Moss has been writing professionally for more than 10 years and has a masters degree in teaching. She is currently working on her fourth book in the Wind Chime series, set on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. She resides in Annapolis.

CS: Why did you choose the romance genre when you started writing?
SM: I studied nonfiction in college and fell in love with writing. One summer I read a Nora Roberts romance set on the Eastern Shore, and I felt proud that my home had been portrayed in such a beautiful way. I couldn’t stop thinking about how good it made me feel at the end of it. I love reading small-town romances myself — it’s how I unwind, because it makes me feel better about life. I hope that’s what my books do for other people.

Could you tell us about your writing routine?
When I’m working on a novel full-time, I wake at 5 a.m. and start writing immediately. I usually spend four to six hours writing and then spend time in the afternoon on social media connecting with other writers and readers.

What is the hardest part of being a writer?
The amount of time between book releases. Being a writer can be a solitary pursuit; it’s a lot of alone time, and so I try to take on something else between books, like volunteering with others in my community. I also just finished a masters degree in teaching because I want to get more involved in the teaching aspect of writing and engage that side of things.

Where do you get your ideas?
I read the news a lot and take ideas from what’s going on in the world. When I wrote the first Wind Chime book, we had just taken out bin Laden. Navy Seals were in the news, and I was reading so much about veterans transitioning into everyday life. I wanted to write about it and show the resilience of the human spirit.

Each of the Wind Chime books is inter-connected. What’s it like to write a series?
The great thing about writing a series is that your readers get to know a whole world.  All of the books have a different hero or heroine, but you get to check in on the other characters and revisit them. My books always incorporate a beautiful island setting, a strong woman and a kind-hearted man. People want their happily ever after, and I’m happy to give it to them.   

New York Times and USA Today bestseller Laura Kaye is the author of over 40 books in romantic suspense and contemporary and erotic romance. She has sold more than one million books in the U.S. alone. Kaye began her career as a history professor at the U.S. Naval Academy and writes bestselling historical fiction under the name Laura Kamoie. Kaye lives on the Chesapeake Bay in Annapolis with her husband and two daughters.

CSM: You had an unusual start to your writing career. Tell us about it.
LK: While vacationing in Rehoboth Beach in 2008, I suffered a traumatic brain injury. In the weeks that followed my recovery, I began having this very strong creative urge and started to write.
I had always been a longtime reader of fiction and had read mostly horrors and thrillers growing up, so I began writing a paranormal romance about a vampire. My need to create was consuming, and I wrote 150,000 words in 11 weeks. I published my first book in 2009, and I’ve never stopped writing.

Many of your books are set locally. How does this area play a role in your writing?
My bestselling series, Hard Ink, takes place in Baltimore and has a few scenes in Annapolis, where I live. Raven Riders is set in Frederick, Maryland, and quite a few of my books have scenes in DC, since I used to live there. My paranormal romance series, Hearts of the Anemoi is set on the Chesapeake Bay and throughout the Delmarva region. I have a lot of fun writing about places that I know well and putting them into my books.

Why do you think most people read romance novels?
They read them to be entertained, which is what any good fiction does. The thing that a romance novel can offer a reader is hope; the genre is inherently hopeful because it affirms the idea that there is someone out there for everyone. Love is a fundamental idea and relevant to most people’s human experience to care about sex, romance and personal happiness.

What do you love most about being a romance author?
The readers. No one is more passionate than the readers of romance. Sometimes you find readers who are reading dozens of books at once, hundreds of books per year. The community of readers we have in the romance genre are not shy about investing money, time and affection on books and authors they love. They aren’t afraid to show their support, and it’s a pretty great experience to connect with them.    

Mary McCarthy is the bestselling author of The Scarlet Letter Society series. Her first book, The Scarlet Letter Society, was published in June 2014, reaching No. 1 on Amazon’s bestseller list in its genre. Two subsequent novels were published in the series, in 2015 and 2016. McCarthy also authored the children’s book I SEA, A Beachcombing Treasure Hunt with Kirsti Scott. She writes frequently for publications such as The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun and, among others. McCarthy resides in Centreville with her husband and four children.

How did you get your start writing romance novels?
MM: It kind of started out as a test of myself. Fifty Shades of Grey came out and I was reviewing it for an article I was writing. I found it to be anti-feminist and felt like the terminology was a bit Victorian. I thought women today deserve a braver approach, and I jokingly said, ‘I can write a better novel than this.’ I wrote the first Scarlet Letter Society book in six weeks.

What do you think people love about
your books?
I think women appreciate the humor in my writing and I like to write about real women that you would know in everyday life.

How have romance novels evolved in the past 20 years?
Hopefully romance novels these days are taking away the idea of the classic formula of ‘woman meets rich man, falls in love, marries, and lives happily ever after.’ Fifty Shades did inspire a lot of new writers and has given women so many more options to choose from, and that is always a good thing.

How does the Shore play a role in all of your books?
Tilghman Island is a character in all of my books. It’s a gorgeous setting, and I was in love with it the first day I visited. I’ve written all my books while staying on Tilghman, so it was easy to set them there. All of my writing includes inspiration from Delmarva and references things I am passionate about, like coastal erosion and the watermen lifestyle.

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