AUTHOR INTERVIEW SERIES
Ellen Whyte on writing romance and chasing success
Ellen Whyte is many different women, all of them writers.
As a columnist and novelist, Whyte has created several pseudonyms to manage the different types of writing she does. Most recently, she's ventured into the romance genre as a novelist, creating two alter egos: Storm Chase and AJ Adams.
As Storm Chase, the author has published 11 romance and erotica titles. Under the name AJ Adams, she's added yet another title to her credit, this time in the dark erotica genre.
"Part of the fun of writing fiction is that you get to be different people whether you use pennames or not," said Whyte. "I think that everyone is made up of several different people: there are you at work, you with your family, you with your loved one... I just take it one step further by inventing someone totally different from myself and becoming that person. Actors do it all the time; writers are just the same."
Each of her characters in the Storm Chase novels is unique and differs from her real self in various ways: according to the author, Chelsea of Wildcat in Moscow and Cassidy from Murder in Moscow are "far braver than I am"; Chocolate's Star is "much tougher"; and Max from The Gift is "far cooler."
"It takes me ages to get into a character, to feel a character," said Whyte, "but when it happens, it's like turning into someone else. I find it gets easier over time."
Not only are Whyte's novels filled with wonderful romantic stories, there's also an element of adventure and travel in many of them. Her Storm Chase titles take place all over the world, from the British Isles and Russia to Ukraine and Colombia. There's even a story that takes place in Sudan!
This reflects Whyte's own adventurous spirit. The author has mixed Dutch and Scottish ancestry, and has lived in 12 different cities in five countries. Currently, she and her husband are living in Malaysia.
"I have more than one country I consider home, two mother tongues and, as I first moved when I was 11, I find it hard to imagine what it's like to live in one place all your life," she said.
"I am lucky to work with people in newspapers, magazines and publishing because it's always interesting and every day is different," said Whyte. "Also, I can honestly say that I like every single one of my customers, so work for me is a lot of fun."
Whyte was pleasantly surprised by the faster-than-expected success of her Storm Chase titles. After all, her venture into self-publishing started only 18 months ago as a way of generating an extra revenue stream.
Part of this is likely due to the sexy nature of her writing – a style that has certainly gained popularity in the last few years. For Whyte, this trend is not surprising, and she thinks the inclusion of detailed sex scenes is natural for a romance story.
"Love and sex are part of life, so readers want to see how their favourite characters develop their relationship in the bedroom, too," said Whyte. "Romance erotica is about weaving the emotional with the physical. If the emotion isn't there, you've got porn and that's a turnoff for romance erotica readers."
There's certainly a lot of demand out there for such stories, making the genre a consistent big seller in the marketplace. The growing demand for her own work has made it necessary for Whyte to hire a promotions company earlier than planned to help her manage everything.
As romantic as it may sound, a fruitful life as a freelance writer is not without challenges. Part of Whyte's success is likely due to her determination and positive attitude: "It is never easy making it to the top, whether your business is aviation or zoology, but that doesn't mean you have to lie down and give up. Risk is a part of life and I like living life to the fullest."
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For more information about the Storm Chase titles, visit the official blog or follow Whyte on Facebook.