Manly Romance Writer: Q&A With Nic Tatano
By Madeline Iva
It wasn’t until our publisher sponsored Romance Festival 2014 last June, that I realized Nic was a man! He was on this swoon-worthy facebook panel about “THE MEN OF ROMANCE” where a few male romance writers and one male romance blogger exchanged frank conversation about men, how they act with regards to romance, and writing romance novels. Someone asked what really attracted men to women and Nic said, “I think a great signal to get a guy’s attention is eye contact. A look that goes right into your soul is what has always done it for me.”
(!) So, since Nic’s latest book TWITTER GIRL is just out, I thought we should have him on the blog today.
MADELINE IVA: Nic, you have a background in television –and many of your books including your latest book TWITTER GIRL are all about reporters. What led you—savvy, experienced man of network television news–to write romance?
NIC TATANO: My first novel was a political thriller. In fact, I wrote nothing but political thrillers until a few years ago. (They’re published under a pen name, Nick Harlow.) Wing Girl was my first RomCom, published last year.
I discovered the romance genre at a writer’s boot camp and thought it would be fun to give it a shot. It probably helps that I’ve been happily married for 25 years and am an incurable romantic at heart.
MADELINE IVA: During a facebook event for the online Romance Festival 2014, you said: “I attended a writer’s boot camp and we were assigned to read different genres. One of the books was The Princess Diaries. I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed it.”
What did you enjoy about it, Nic?
NIC TATANO: What really hit me about that book was Meg Cabot’s voice. I remember thinking, “Geez, she’s as sarcastic as I am. I can do this.” Of course I don’t write as well as she does, but I think I do snark pretty well.
MADELINE IVA: You said at the romance festival that you “have a unique background” in that you are surrounded by women including your single mother, a wife with three sisters, and seven nieces. What challenges you the most about writing from a female pov in romance novels?
NIC TATANO: My writing critique partners have always been women. They’ll usually tell me stuff like, “A woman would never do or say this.” In return they send me their work and I give them my input on the male characters. I think it’s really helpful to have someone of the opposite sex critique your work, regardless of the genre. And it helps that I have a ton of platonic female friends from working in the news business.
MADELINE IVA: You also said: “I spent my life in television newsrooms which are dominated by women who talk about sex constantly.” Reallllllllly? Do tell!
NIC TATANO: Newsrooms are perhaps the most unique office settings you’ll ever encounter. You think reporters sit around and talk about news all day? Pffft. We have these incredible life discussions; if you’re in a good newsroom it’s like a second family. (Of course a bad newsroom can be a dysfunctional family.) What’s curious about the business is that it is filled with a lot of only children (I’m one) and I think we crave that “big family” setting we never had.
Reporters tend to check their sex at the door. You’re not a male reporter or a female reporter, just a reporter. So nothing is off the table as far as topics of discussion. Women ask men for advice on relationships, and vice versa. Monday morning is like a dating post-mortem where all the single people discuss their weekends. And you’d be amazed at how many take-no-prisoners news people are incredibly insecure about relationships off camera.
As for being frank, the young lady whose desk was next to mine always referred to her dentist boyfriend as “The Driller” and I don’t think she was referring to having a tooth filled.
MADELINE IVA: What do you think of the romance publishing world compared to other careers that you’ve been involved in? Are women romance writers as friendly and supportive to male writers as they are to each other?
NIC TATANO: Oh my God, publishing is the total opposite of TV news, which is one of the most backstabbing industries you could find. I’ve pulled so many knives out of my back in newsrooms I could set a table for eighteen. Walk down the hall and you can hear the whoosh-whoosh-whoosh of the blades flying through the air. Jealousy is off the charts. My old boss once told me people will eat their young for an anchor job.
Writers are incredibly supportive people. They are genuinely happy when you succeed and offer a shoulder when you need one. Several veteran authors helped me when I was starting out, and I try to pay it forward with other rookies.
And the people at HarperImpulse are beyond kind. Nicest group I’ve ever worked for. The female writers have taken me in as one of the gang, though sometimes I think they forget I’m there and the discussion gets kinda wild.
MADELINE IVA: Hee-hee. Meanwhile, THE ADVENTURES OF JILLIAN SPECTRE is *really* different from your other work. What led you in this new direction?
NIC TATANO: I had been reading a lot of young adult books and all the dystopian stuff was depressing me. I felt like there was a void of positive books since the Harry Potter series ended. Not that I could ever replace J.K. Rowling, but I wanted to create a world where there was hope. I think young people need a more positive outlook for the future, and that’s what Jillian Spectre is all about.
MADELINE IVA: Go back to Men of Romance Event on Facebook that was sponsored by the Romance Festival of 2014, you said, “Fear of rejection is huge with guys. But when you do connect with someone it’s like the rest of the world doesn’t exist.”
NIC TATANO: That fear thing is real. I approached a woman in a bar when I was 22, got shot down, and never did it again. I’d be more scared doing that than covering a hurricane.
MADELINE IVA: Do you think women romance authors depict men accurately? What do you think women romance writers get right about men, and what are they overlooking?
NIC TATANO: Well, I know the people who read romance are looking for a certain type of man, and of course as a writer you’re going to create a guy who most women would want. But if you’re looking for a real guy with a washboard chances are you’ll need to hang out at an antique shop. Mister Right doesn’t look like those guys on the book covers.
The male characters I’ve read seem pretty real to me. I think female romance writers have figured out that we as a species are not terribly complicated but really do value relationships more than we’re given credit for.
What are they overlooking? That men have a harder time recovering from being dumped than women do. Of course, most of them will never admit it.
MADELINE IVA: I can see that happening. Especially for guys who are the strong & silent type. If he stoppers up all his feelings with other people and only confides in one woman, rejection could feel soul crushing.
Thanks for that insight, Nic, and thanks so much for being here with us today.
There you have it, kittens! Ask Nic any questions below in the comments page and please check out his books on Amazon. If you’re ready to stop dragging your heart around sign up to follow Lady Smut.com — we’ve got the love you need.