Romance Writer, Emmy Z. Madrigal, Has Done it Again by Sumiko Saulson

Romance Writer, Emmy Z. Madrigal, Has Done it Again

by Sumiko Saulson

tlsmallRomance writer Emmy Z. Madrigal has done it again, with True Love? A Musical Romance, the third book in the Sweet Dreams Series. In addition to writing romance novels, Emmy is a long time author of horror and the hostess of HorrorAddicts.net. In my exclusive interview with her for True Love? A Musical Romance, she revealed that switching between the genres gives her the ability to access a nearly endless supply of material from within the vast stores of her mind. She glides from one genre to the other rather than being plagued as some authors are, by writer’s block.

The romance genre is associated with pleasure reading, and many of us, this writer included, enjoy an engrossing romantic storyline. Romance is a part of our psyche, it is a part of what motivates us and what we dream of. Romance is a way to escape, to take a vacation from our everyday lives. We can imagine we are the leading lady or man, as the case may be, in these fantasies. The best love stories also contain depictions of difficult subjects the readers may be faced with in their lives. These elements make the stories relatable and accessible to the reader.

Some romances that have gone down in history and maintained their relevance in the canons of literature have included contemporary difficulties and challenges to be faced and overcome by their heroines. The Bronte Sisters gave us two such stories, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. The first dealt with subjects such as the loss of parents, orphanages, and the death of a close friend. The second dealt extensively with the subjects of emotional abuse and domestic violence.

Emmy Z. Madrigal was in good company when she made bold choices for her characters, such as including the subject of rape. One in five American women experience rape, and by including it in her storyline, she has made it so that a number of young women who read the books do not feel alone. Like them, Victoria is a rape survivor. In this, the latest chapter in her story, she confronts her rapist and finally gets some closure.

If you or anyone you know has experienced rape, you are not alone. The National Sexual Assault Hotline can help women who are dealing with the aftermath of a sexual assault. You can contact them at 1-800-656-HOPE.

Sumiko Saulson’s Interview with Emmy Z. Madrigal

SS: Mistress of Horror by night, champion of True Love by day… how do the two alter egos work together? Is it like Clark Kent and Superman, completely separate incarnations of the same being, or do the twain ever meet?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEM: I love how you put that! Yes, I am a Gemini, so I have my dark side and my light. My dark side likes to write about vampires and ghosts and demons taking over your soul, while my light side likes to write about love and music and enjoying life. It’s helpful on a day-to-day writing schedule basis. If I am feeling moody and melodramatic, I tend to write horror, and when I am feeling fun and full of life, I write romance. It makes the question new writers ask me, “How do you cope with writer’s block?” a non-issue. If I get blocked or overwhelmed by the heavy subject matter in my vampire novels, I switch to Sweet Dreams and enjoy Victoria’s fun attitude. These two parts of me met in my horror romance novel, Artistic License.

SS: Do you think it is possible to show a strong female character in a romance situation?

EM: Absolutely. Just because women open themselves up to love and believe the possibility is there for someone to love them, doesn’t mean their lives are all sunshine and rainbows. Often, it takes more strength to open yourself up to love and trust someone than to stay closed off to others. Victoria opens her heart for everyone to see and has been hurt before, but still has the courage to try again. She understands that to find true love, she has to risk being hurt. Cynthia, the girl who appears to be stronger in this series, has a hard time opening up and often misses out on love by not risking it.

SS: Do you think it’s important to show young ladies who read romances that the heroines have a rounded life and not just love? How do you show that?

EM: First, I think a romance novel should be about more than just love. Without an interesting plot and characters that have goals, the story will fall apart pretty fast. Second, I think the young girls of today need to know love is still out there no matter what kind of drama they’ve dealt with in their lives. I try to empower them by showing women who have adversity in their lives, but still survive and even conquer their demons. I tend to think of novels in a broader sense than just their genre. I write what I want to read, stories about real girls, living their dreams, messing up sometimes, getting hurt, but ultimately staying true to themselves and conquering their demons. I enjoy happy endings, so I tend to finish their battles in upbeats, but it doesn’t change the journey they go through to get to that point. Because of Victoria’s rape, I’ve had so many emails from girls who have been hurt by men in the past. They’ve told me that reading Victoria’s battle with this has helped them work through their own issues. Those emails are close to my heart because my favorite books have been the ones that have helped me battle my own demons.

SS: Do you think it’s important to address real life situations that young people may face today?

EM: I think it’s silly to think teens aren’t having sex, aren’t getting into trouble with drugs, and aren’t finding themselves having to deal with all the things parents wish they could shelter them from. Just because earlier generations never talked about it, doesn’t mean it wasn’t happening then too. Without these real issues that teens deal with, the tales lack realism. I think the reason Sweet Dreams resonates so much with younger girls is because I wrote these books starting when I was seventeen. Even though the books have been updated, I’ve tried to keep that teenage feeling and not strip the realism from the books.

SS: What are the more controversial decisions you’ve made about your teen characters, and why did you make them?

EM: The biggest thing I get asked by adults is why I allow teens in my books to have sex. The answer is simple. Sex, love, and relationships are part of the human experience. If you cannot see the sexual experience, how two people connect in the bedroom, you may never understand their motives or their reasons for reacting the way they do. One thing I do show with Victoria and Rob’s relations is fidelity, monogamy. Not everyone believes in those values, but I think rather than telling teens they can’t do what they are already doing (and what we did or dreamed of doing when we were young) it’s better to show them good, healthy relationships that practice safe sex.

SS: Recently, one of my favorite romantic adventures, Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale, was made into a movie, and I was very excited. They even cast that handsome Colin Farrell. If your book was made into a movie, who would you want to see cast?

EM: Fun question! Actually, there is a site called StoryCasting.com, where readers can cast their votes on who they think should play the leads. When I created these characters, twenty plus years ago, I of course had other people in mind, but at the time of this interview, I would love to see Skyler Samuels (from The Gates and The Nine Lives of Chole King) as Victoria. For Rob, Austin Butler (from The Carrie Diaries) is best and for Cynthia, Shailene Woodley (Divergent). The fans have been fighting about who should play Derek, so I won’t get in the middle of that. For Greg, I’d love to see Nick Roux (Jane by Design) and for Raul, Blair Reford (Switched at Birth). Even as I speak their names, they are becoming too old for these roles, so Hollywood better hurry up! Oh, and by the way, if I am ever honored to attend a Red Carpet event, I’ve been told by my bff’s mother, that she will be my date before anyone else. So you see, I really have no choice in the matter.

SS: What are some of your favorite romantic movies and romances by other authors?

EM: The best book-to-movie adaptations I have seen come from BBC. 1995’s Pride and Prejudice, 2007’s Northanger Abbey, and 2002’s Daniel Deronda are three of my absolute favorites. Notice, they are also books with strong plots—it’s not all about the romance. I think it’s really hard for American directors to stay true to the book and also please the studios. The best American book-to-movie adaptation I’ve seen is Practical Magic, which is a great read by American novelist, Alice Hoffman. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great American romance films that aren’t directly connected to a book like Kate & Leopold, While You Were Sleeping, and Pretty in Pink.

Sumiko Saulson’s Interview with Cover-Model Heidi Kaden

SS: As a cover model, you represent Victoria to the world. What was your process?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHK: I thought what it was like to be a young adult. I tried to emulate her fears, worries, and hopes. I mimicked the innocence and naivety that comes with being young but also the heart-stopping courage to go all out and not hold back. Victoria has that type of energy.

SS: Do you get into character like an actor before the photo shoot?

HK: For the majority of photo shoots, yes, you do get into character to fit the role you’re portraying. Of course, with photography you can always tweak or alter the photo and character so it fits into the perfect mold.

SS: Victoria is something like a rockstar. What kind of things bring out your inner rockstar?

HK: When I get dressed up for different theme parties or fun costumed events. Choosing the perfect outfit or costume and applying killer makeup to go with it, is totally exhilarating as well as transforming. Creativity brings out my inner glowing rock star.

Sumiko Saulson’s Interview with Musician Brad Wait

SS: How did you get involved with the Sweet Dreams Series?

IMG_1859BW: I first started working with Emmy on Star Struck. As I recall, Emmy was searching the internet for songs that might fit the storyline and what the band Never Open might play. She found my songs “Anime Girl” and “Don’t You See” and contacted me about using them. It was later, that she asked about other songs that the Sweet Dreams Series needed. There was a need for a Boy Band song that RHE would perform. So, I wrote “Where You Got Me”. She also needed a Jazz song for Rob to give to Victoria to record on her first CD. Jazz is a very broad genre, so I decided to try a Smooth Jazz feel and wrote the song “Rain”. Emmy also used “Rain” as the theme song for True Love?

SS: How do you feel about creating music for a podcast, and specifically, one that has Victoria, a musical artist, as its protagonist?

BW: I enjoyed the process of writing and recording new songs for these podcasts. I found it to be similar to composing for Film/TV. It was fun to write things with a specific objective and goal. When composing for Film/TV, you sometimes only have a theme or mood to convey musically. Maybe a scene is weak and needs music to make it interesting, or the music needs to convey tension, romance, or something else the scene is missing. In this case, the story speaks for itself, but the music can enhance it, or at least I hope it does. It is challenging and enjoyable to do this kind of work because you have boundaries or constraints to work within. And oddly, that is a somewhat freeing experience.

SS: Do you feel that Victoria’s recording studio experiences are like recording in real life? How are they the same? How are they different?

BW: As I understand it, Victoria is a natural musician. She started in the studio with little experience as a singer. But, after a couple of false starts, she did really well. In most cases, singers and other musicians don’t get the opportunity to record in a professional studio until they have lots of performing experience. There are exceptions of course, and some, like Victoria, are discovered to have natural talent and given the chance to show it. My own experience is like most other artists—lots of practice and performing until you feel you are ready to record. When you are ready, your main focus is creating the best recording in the least expensive way. The expression “time is money” is so true for recording. The better prepared you are, the better the performance and the less expensive it is to record and mix. These days, most people start out using a home studio or other low-budget studio. Sometimes, you can book a pro studio, but with a junior engineer from midnight to eight in the morning. These are tough hours to put in, but sometimes the only option for new musicians. Victoria, however, got the proverbial ‘break’ in the music business, and given her talent, was able to make the most of it.

SS: Do you feel the music illustrates the characters? If so, how?

BW: I wrote several songs specifically for the story and characters and did the best I could to represent them. Instead of writing something from my personal view, I instead assume the persona of the characters as I write. I don’t know the characters like Emmy and her fans do, but Emmy gave me enough background to work with. In addition to the genre, Emmy described the purpose of the song, who sings it and to whom, and the general sentiment and mood to convey. I used this information and my personal experiences to come up with the lyrics and music. I was never certain that what I was writing would actually be what Emmy wanted or if it would indeed fit the story. But, thankfully they worked out. For the song “I Will Follow Her”, Emmy and I co-wrote the lyrics and I wrote the music. This is the song that Derek sings to Cynthia. Emmy sent me some key lyrics that were important to the story and a general idea of how the song would be ‘performed’ by Derek. I used all of this to develop the rest of the song.

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To find out more about Sumiko Saulson, go to: sumikosaulson.com

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