This week Adriana Kraft visits. I met the writing team of Adriana Kraft in 2013 at the Hot Mojave Knights Romance Reader Event here in Vegas and had such a wonderful time having frank discussions about life, romance, and the balance of writing with a husband and wife team. They write erotic romance set in the real world. Today I asked them one question about how writing has affected their own relationship.
You’ll notice there’s an assumption embedded in the question – Siobhan assumes the impact of our joint writing efforts has improved our relationship rather than stirred up troubled waters…
In the beginning, it was not so! Any partners who want to stay together over the long haul have to learn how they’re going to handle conflict productively: which things to go to battle over, how to broach the subject when differences are tender, when to recognize the deep tendrils of issues buried in past history and let something go, how to reconnect when feelings are raw and wounded.
We’ve been married thirty-four years, and we’ve been writing together (or trying to) for nearly half that time. Getting started wasn’t pretty. I had a long standing pattern of doing pretty much anything to avoid conflict, and hubs – well, he’d learned to shut things down and tough it out in order to survive. I think we both agonized over how to give each other useful feedback and how to receive it. I know in the beginning, I wasn’t very constructive (destructive, more accurately), and it took a while for both of us to dare start over. It would have been easy to derail our entire fiction writing enterprise before it even began, and we came pretty close.
What’s interesting is that at that stage, what helps writers helped us: research, workshops, beta readers, and critique groups. It was easier, in the beginning, for both of us to receive feedback from outsiders. We read some marvelous books (Michael Seidman’s The Complete Guide to Edition your Fiction and William Noble’s Shut Up, He Explained), joined RWA, took excellent workshops (Pat Schneider, Jennifer Crusie), and learned from others what we needed to do to improve our fiction.
I’m a family therapist (in another lifetime), and systems theory tells us any living system will die if it shuts itself down from outside input. Remaining open was our lifeline during that phase. It certainly gave us language and perspective for tackling disagreements (over fiction, or over anything else, actually).
What we finally learned, about the time our work started getting published, was that those “disagreements” often rose out of problems our characters were having. We’re quite convinced our characters have a life on the other side of some veil we can’t see through – they challenge us when we’ve misunderstood them, and the trouble manifests in our relationship. We have to stop and connect with the characters to sort it out. We think that deepens our story lines and helps readers bond with our characters, so it’s all good: what helps the characters and the stories helps us. At this point, sometimes, it’s hard to know the difference!
One more thing… Siobhan knows we primarily write erotic romance. Do you suppose that’s the angle she wanted us to talk about? I’m not going to share any great personal details here, but I’ll just say that the enterprise of creating story arcs with lots of hot sex scenes and crafting the characters who populate them has definitely kept us invested in learning about sex, talking about things sexual, and keeping the libido going. It’s a win-win, and we write an occasional blog column called Stay Sexy to share some of what we learn.
You can find out more about Adriana Krafts's hot, erotic contemporary romance on their website. Be sure to buy a book and tell a friend. Happy reading!