Reality & Writing Romance

By Rachel Cross, author of SpiralingRock Him, and Rock Her

SpiralingBefore I sit down to (loosely) plot the book I want to write, I do the research. For Rock Her I read autobiographies of very successful rock stars before I attempted to write the story of Alec Sawyer. My favorite book was Duff McKagan’s It’s So Easy and Other Lies. More than a memoir, it is an inspiration, the story of a man who finally quit drugs and alcohol when he was knockin’ on death’s door and turned his life around.

In Rock Him, my heroine Maddy has rheumatoid arthritis. Growing up I knew a woman with this chronic illness and attempted to capture some of what I saw from the outside looking in. I researched RA extensively on the internet, reading forum posts and discussions about the disease. Through another Crimson Romance author I was lucky enough to find a beta reader with RA who read through my manuscript and suggested changes to make the depiction of the disease more accurate.

To me, there is no greater praise than a reader intimately acquainted with a condition I’m depicting telling me I got it right.

In Spiraling, my heroine is a figure skater who gave up the competitive circuit for skating’s equivalent of the circus—the traveling ice show. I read three memoirs and one non-fiction book on figure skating, I researched on You Tube, Wikepedia, you name it—I even went to see Disney on Ice with my family to get a feel for the show. But I still didn’t feel like I was getting it completely right. Finally, desperate, I asked on Facebook if anyone knew any professional figure skaters. Jackpot. A friend of a friend has done a number of traveling ice shows including the now defunct Ice Capades and she agreed to critique my story for verisimilitude.

I’m so grateful to my beta readers for sharing their experiences. They allow me to mix a bit of reality in with the fantasy.