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This blog was featured on 08/28/2019
Renée Carlino on Characters, Rituals and Finding Her Muse
Written by
She Writes
August 2019
Written by
She Writes
August 2019

Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and the USA Today bestselling romance author of Before We Were Strangers, Swear on This Lifeand Wish You Were Here among others. She also penned the swoony novella, Shopping for Love. This month, to fans’ delight, she releases her latest novel The Last Post, about a young, grieving widow who finds her way back through posts on Facebook.

We took a look at some of her most memorable interviews to bring you a behind-the-scenes look at Carlino’s writing life.

On Characters

Carlino has been praised for dreaming up some of the hottest book boyfriends. But she’s also been credited for producing characters with whom readers form a quick connection.

“I’ve said that my first friends were the imaginary kind and in many ways they still are,” she says on her website. “I love writing these stories and watching my characters grow.”

Here she shares how she goes about creating robust, loveable characters:

“For me, I have to imagine myself in the story. It doesn’t matter which character I am, it can be the male or the female character, or even a friend of the protagonist, but I have to be able to daydream that I’m in it, the same way we look forward to going on a trip. We imagine all of the things we’ll do and that’s how I plan a book.”

This excerpt was originally posted on We Heart Writing. Read the full interview here.

On Process

Writers often have their rituals to get into the writing groove, and for Carlino, one of those is music. She shares on her website that music sparks her creativity and fuels her writing, but that’s not all.

“My ritual is always coffee, low music and solitude. I sometimes go for drives or take long baths to help me plot. For this book, I took a lot of drives down the old dirt road,” she told Under the Covers Book Blog.

Once her creative juices start flowing, she seeks out her muse.

“The easiest way for me to start plotting before I actually start writing is to find a muse, put him or her in a situation that I’m involved in and then let my mind go in all the directions it possibly can. I’ll plot in the car, in bed just before I’m going to sleep or while I’m sitting at the beach, watching the waves. Then I’ll come back home and put the words to paper.”

This excerpt was originally published on We Heart Writing. Read the full interview here.

On Advice

Carlino encourages fearlessness in aspiring writers, urging them to write with abandon - and without worrying what others will think.

“I don’t really believe writers are made, I believe they’re born,” she told one book blogger.  “I think they can get better with practice but they have to be able to tell a story intuitively first. When people ask me how they can become a writer, I usually say you just have to want to write without the assumption that someone will read it.”

Once someone has read it, however, she thanks her mom for allowing her to go confidently into the world and continue with her writing passion, regardless of the feedback.

“There will always be bad reviews,” My mother told me, days before the book was released. Surrendering to that vulnerability and embracing it gave me the most powerful sense of freedom. I wrote a book and that was enough for me.”

She continued:

“Many months after my first book was published, people would ask me what I did for a living and I would say, ‘I’m a stay-at-home mom.’ Now I’ve learned to say, “I’m a writer; I was always a writer, it just took me some time to figure that out.” 

This excerpt was originally published on BookSparks. Read her full post here.

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    Bad reviews is a really big concern for a lot of new and established writers, but I think Carlino's approach is very mature and healthy. Art is so subjective that it's bound to get both positive, lukewarm, and negative receptions. Knowing that beforehand really lets you prepare yourself for those reviews you don't really want to get!