With novels such as Wallbanger, Screwdrivered, and Nuts, author Alice Clayton knows how to capture readers’ attentions just by her witty titles. Add her sexy storylines, relatable characters, and clever humor and you get a concoction of contemporary romance brilliance. And then there’s author Nina Bocci, who teamed up with 12 other writers to put their talented minds together and create the bestselling sexy tale Felony Ever After. Nina not only knows what it takes to construct perfectly imperfect characters who all readers can connect with (proof in her lovable bad boy Hudson Fenn) but also how to hook readers in with page-flipping romance scenes, electric sex appeal, and fulfilling happily ever afters. So what happens when these two writers team up to produce a romance series? Spoiler alert: You get the dream team of new adult romance. Their newest series The Broads Abroad focuses on storylines that take place, yes you guessed it, abroad in Europe. Featuring their trademark witty humor, sexy scenes, and beloved characters, you’ll be swooning over their first novel in the series Roman Crazy (out now!). I was lucky enough to chat with the talented writers about their latest series, their newest novel, and their travels to Rome. Read the interview below:
Chloe Parr: Alice, you worked in the cosmetics industry for years before starting a writing career. While Nina, you have worked as a publicist, writing countless “about pages” for other authors before your own. What inspired both of you to start writing and pursue it as a career?
Nina Bocci and Alice Clayton: Well to be completely honest, we fell into it. We both started reading Twilight FanFic during 08/09’ and from there we toyed with different stories. We read a ton but we were also writing a lot. For the career aspect of it, we obviously took different paths. Alice has been publishing a few years now whereas I (Nina) focused on the publicity side first. Now, I’m ready and eager to pursue the author side more!
CP: How did you two decide to team up and write the Broads Abroad series together?
N&A: We wanted to write together for ages but nothing seemed like the right project. When I was talking about Rome and a divorced friend, we sort of went back and forth with different ideas for a few days and suddenly it presented itself as the book to collaborate on.
CP: For those who are unfamiliar with writing as part of a collaboration, how do you write a novel with another author?
N&A: We outlined the whole book in person. Some aspects changed throughout the writing process but for the most part, the big scenes all stayed exactly how we originally pictured them to go. We didn’t alternate chapters because this was all in Avery’s POV. We didn’t have that option so we divvied it up by scene. From there we’d send it back and forth in few chapter chunks and smooth out the areas that needed to be.
N&A: I had just returned from Rome where I was researching something else and I was just so inspired by the city, I knew something had to be set there. When I came home and talked to Alice, we decided fairly quickly what would be happening in the story and jotted down quite a bit of notes. Over the coming months, more of it became clear and we just kept making an outline until finally, we had a full book and we couldn’t wait to get started.
CP: Roman Crazy takes place in Rome, where protagonist Avery runs into a lost love from her past. Why did you decide to set the novel in Rome? What can readers learn from the location choice?
N&A: Originally it was Florence but when we came up with their histories, Rome fit much better for not only the characters and the scenes we thought up, but also for the flow of the novel (i.e. them traveling around to different towns on jobs, etc.). Rome is such a central hub, it was hard to rationalize moving it somewhere else. It fit too perfectly.
CP: Do the locations in your novels come from places you have traveled to first-hand?
N&A: Yes, absolutely. Every location is real from the corner in Trastevere where Daisy lives to the restaurants to Pizzarium Bonci!
CP: Your new novel features both travel and romance. How does travel play an important part in the romance story? What do you think people can learn from being far away from home?
N&A: The travel and the fish out of water aspect was a huge part of the story. Showing that Avery, though well-traveled, wasn’t doing anything that she really wanted to do. Upscale, all-inclusive resorts didn’t fulfill her the way that Europe did. Walking the ancient cobblestone streets with a backpack and comfy shoes is something I would take over an open bar any day.
“Write what you want, how you want it. Don’t try and base your style of writing on someone else’s because it won’t ring true for you.”
CP: What messages do you hope readers get from Roman Crazy and the Broads Abroad series?
N&A: That everything is possible even when you least expect it. It IS 100% a second-chance love story but it’s also a story of Avery coming into her own. Making decisions to right a wrong and learning that it’s never too late to find your path.
CP: Both of you bring a lot of witty humor and charismatic personality to your characters. What advice do you have for aspiring authors about finding their own distinct writing “voice”?
N&A: Write what you want, how you want it. Don’t try and base your style of writing on someone else’s because it won’t ring true for you. Plus, you’re doing yourself a disservice! We want to read your voice, not a copy of another. For your dialogue, read it aloud. It helps tremendously!
“Everything is possible even when you least expect it.”
CP: Who inspired your characters Marcello and Avery? Are they based on real-life people?
N&A: There sort of is a Marcello. A lot of the character is based in fact. Avery isn’t anyone in particular. Or, if she is, we hope she found her happiness too.
CP: In Roman Crazy, you write, “Vacation nothing – this is a lifestyle, Avery.” What do you think people can learn from traveling that they can bring back to their daily lifestyle?
N&A: To enjoy life. It’s short and not guaranteed for anyone. It really is a different sense of time there. Dinners are four hours long. You’re not given the check until you’ve finished all of the wine, sat, digested, had a digestivo and unbuttoned your pants. It’s all an experience to be savored.
“Romance is a great way to get lost into a world for a few hours and enjoy something that isn’t so shocking or terrifying.”
CP: You both write novels within the contemporary romance genre. For those unfamiliar with the genre, what are the main components of writing contemporary romance?
N&A: Happily Ever Afters for one. I know this is something that has a lot of back and forth but I feel like a Happily Ever After is needed for the story to feel complete. I’m not saying that the couple HAS to be happy together but they need to have some sort of resolution. She’s happy alone, they’re happy for now, whatever it is needs to be clear. Obviously a well fleshed out romance is key, the level of steam of course varies from erotica to women’s fiction and everything in between. Super descriptive or fading to black, it doesn’t matter but the notion that there is sex is important.
CP: Contemporary romance has been so popular with readers and bloggers around the world who get truly invested in its characters. What do you think makes contemporary romance so relatable and beloved by such a huge audience?
N&A: I think for me given the current climate of the world, we need an escape. Romance is a great way to get lost into a world for a few hours and enjoy something that isn’t so shocking or terrifying. Giving us a glimpse on what everything could be like if we all just took a second and tried our best to be good, decent humans.
CP: In Roman Crazy, you write, “I thought about second chances. I guess looking in it’d seem that the second chance here was clearly a second chance with Marcello. But maybe it was getting a second chance at life, with myself, for myself, doing something that I loved.” How do you think love and travel teaches people about themselves?
N&A: You learn a lot about yourself when you travel alone. I love taking my son on vacations and seeing the world through his eyes but I also do really enjoy taking a trip by myself too. Just having that freedom to explore and think, unwind and learn about a new city, culture, whatever is a wonderful feeling. For Avery, it wasn’t just important for us that she re-discover what it means to love with her whole heart but also to love herself and put herself first for a change. Just because they became a ‘we’ doesn’t mean she has to lose the ‘me’.
CP: What plans do you have for the upcoming year? Can fans expect more novels to come in the Broads Abroad series?
N&A: We’re both actively finishing up some solo projects. We do have a lot of Broads books in mind but it’s a matter of time for us. We do hope to continue the series though!
A HUGE thank you to Nina and Alice for taking the time to chat with me about their exciting new series! Roman Crazy is out now and trust me, you won’t want to miss this one… you’ll be going crazy over Rome, the romance, and the sexy Roman… Buy your copy here: Roman Crazy