“Nothing about the writing process is easy,” says Kayla Perrin. But the 34-year-old romance novelist sure makes it look that way; since 1996 she’s written 14 novels and four novellas. Perrin (BA 1992 Victoria) concedes that story ideas may come more easily to her than others. “I can watch the news and get an idea, or I can be on a plane and overhear a conversation,” she says. Improv training – she’s also an actor – has helped enormously with creating dialogue, too.
The down-to-earth Perrin admits that the life of a romance novelist isn’t all pink chiffon and suitors with strong jawlines. “There are women who’ve written romances who have never been married, or are divorced like myself,” she says. “I think you just have to enjoy that type of fiction, the same way John Grisham writes thrillers without having a crazy secret life that the police would be interested in knowing about.”
Perrin has also written mystery and children’s stories, as well as mainstream literary fiction. In her latest release, The Delta Sisters (St. Martin’s Press, 2004), three generations of women become enmeshed in secrets and lies following an unsolved murder. Most of Perrin’s readers live south of the border, and in the last few years she’s had particular success writing books with African-American characters. She credits such best-selling writers as Terry McMillan (Waiting to Exhale) with this new boom. “Some saw it as a fad,” she says. “But now everyone is publishing fiction geared toward the African-American woman and they realize it’s here to stay.”