[Note from Frolic: We are so lucky to have blogger Kini Allen interviewing Love’s Sweet Arrow on the site today! Take it away Kini!]
I recently learned about two women who are looking to open the second romance only bookstore. As a proud member of this community, I get really excited when I see new ventures in Romancelandia. The Ripped Bodice has become a destination for romance book lovers worldwide, but wouldn’t it be nice if we had more than one romance only book store? Marissa and Roseann Backlin are working to make that happen. I reached out to them and found out more about their plans to open Love’s Sweet Arrow in the Chicagoland area.
Tell us about yourselves?
Roseann: I am a lover of HEA, and a firm believer of everything always works out in the end. I have three grown children, youngest is a senior in college! And graduating soon! WooHoo! I’ve been living out my own HEA for 35 years.
Marissa: I have been a special education teacher for about three years. I have been reading since I was four or five (I was one of those children who memorized books instead of reading them) when my dad told me I would never be able to order from McDonalds if I didn’t learn to read! I also attempted to be a writer for a while and wrote one sex scene. It was really bad. I learned then I preferred to read those scenes than write them!
How did you start reading romance?
Marissa: I have been reading romance since I was 12, I snuck romance in the bathroom when my mom would leave them. She actually caught me one day and I was like, I was reading the funeral scene! And she looked at me like, don’t lie! Haha. It was a contemporary book and the heroine lost a family member in it and had a huge fight with her mom and a beach scene on the cover. I just blossomed from there. Aside from that, I read historical mainly for a long time, but I’ve read a lot of everything.
Roseann: My mom read romance and I just followed suit. My mom didn’t care what we read, as long as we read something.
What do you love about romance?
Roseann: I love romance because sometimes life is stressful and sometimes knowing there is a book waiting for you on the table next to your couch or bed, makes getting through the day easier! I am a quick reader, but the last couple of years I have made myself slow down and enjoy the writing style of authors. Damn you authors are good!
Marissa: There’s a sense of safety in it, knowing that no matter what, the main characters will work things out and there is a happily ever after. I like other genres, but I never know what will happen at the end and sometimes that’s stressful. I’m not going to lie, there are a lot of emotionally taxing things going on right now, and anything healthy that can ease that stress is a positive.
What is your favorite trope?
Roseann: I really enjoyed The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, which is an escort romance. I also love the second chance romance trope. Recent reads of that trope are: Susan Mallery’s Not Quite Over You and Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.
Marissa: I really like enemies to lovers because of the fine line of hate/lust tension just makes the story spark. And I loved loved loved The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. I just finished Wallbanger by Alice Clayton and found the storyline of her losing her orgasm and only getting it back when she’s honest with Simon was really interesting. Dating You, Hating You by Christina Lauren, that was a good one. I’ve read a few mail order bride stories lately too, one being Tempest by Beverly Jenkins. I love how their meet-cute is Regan shooting Colt in the shoulder! I saw Heart and Hand by Rebel Carter all over Twitter a few weeks ago.
What made you want to open a romance only bookstore?
Roseann: I have been married to an entrepreneur for a long time, and if he has taught me anything, it’s that you have to be willing to take risks, meet challenges head on, and you will succeed. I am bringing this to the bookstore! I am ready to get rid of the stigma of romance books. I have had a few people visibly wince when I told them what kind of bookstore we are opening, and honestly, all that does is make me more determined! Everyone who loves romance deserves another judgment free zone and a place to just go and relax with friends. We are hoping to be that place!
Marissa: I’ve walked out of some bookstores empty handed because I can’t even order it and have it shipped to me. Learning about The Ripped Bodice opened so many doors for me because they had all of the books I wanted, and I have ordered from them a few times. To be able to bring that to another part of the country would be amazing. We want to be that store where people can walk in and find that romance that they have been searching for.
What is your vision for the store?
Marissa: We want to have a space where this genre can flourish, and someone can find a book they want. I was always one of those kids who could spend an hour or more in a bookstore and there were periods in my life where books (and my mom) were my only friends. Places where I found books were very important to me. I want our store to be a welcoming, warm place. We want to do what we can to support the community.
How did you come up with the name Love’s Sweet Arrow?
Marissa: We were stumped for a long time on what to name the store. Roseann and I were driving one day, and we were tossing ideas around. I was looking up love phrases and words and found ‘love’s sweet arrow’. We didn’t come back to it for a few weeks. We had actually individually decided on the name and then discussed it one day. It is a reference to the penis. The PG version is a that makes some think of Cupid’s arrow.
How will you work to be inclusive to all genres, readers and authors?
Marissa: We have been brainstorming ideas on how to do that. We are both aware that, as white women, we have a lot of privilege and a good way to utilize it is to bridge that gap and bring people of color and the LGBTQIA community forward. I have a couple of ideas, but it was recently suggested (and it is a great idea) to bring a group of people together to help us with that representation, to make sure that we have a good selection of authors and books in all genres that fully represent the romance community and the people that read it. We definitely want to have author discussions and panels about diversity in publishing and writing with own voices and writing as an author of color.
What would it mean for you personally and for the romance community at large to have another romance only book store?
Roseann: Another store would mean more choices! Since it is hard to find romance in quantity, we want to be your one shop stop in the Midwest!
Marissa: There are so many bookstores for pretty much every other genre. Why not romance? So many people read romance and yet there are so few places to get romance on its own. The romance community is massive and so many people read it, why aren’t there more? Part of me is like, because it’s viewed as a women thing and sometimes that’s all you have to say, haha. The community is so much more than what it’s stereotyped to be. I believe that having another store that’s focused on this genre, it will be another place and more people to fight for the respect and understanding that this genre deserves.
The most important question of all… Will Love’s Sweet Arrow have a four-legged employee to help readers pick their next favorite read? YES! Lady and Brando (IG: brando2141) will be there in the evenings. Brando will probably be chilling under the desk. Lady will undoubtedly be greeting everyone in a pouch on my chest!
What’s next for Love’s Sweet Arrow?
Marissa: Well, as Roseann says, “It’s happening!” We are still hoping to get our project funded on Kickstarter by March 10th. We are going to be on an episode of Too Stupid to Live with Becky Feldman next week and we are soooooo excited! If we can get the project funded, we can have a bigger store with more inventory and have more room to do more events and have some of those panels we want. If we don’t, it will still happen, but on a smaller scale with a small store with the intent of growing as we do. So, we hope our project will get funded, but we aren’t giving up!
The Kickstarter for Love’s Sweet Arrow closes on March 10th. Romancelandia, we have just a short time to help Roseann, Marissa, Lady and Brando get their HEA with Love’s Sweet Arrow! You can find out more about Love’s Sweet Arrow on their website, Twitter, Instagram.
About Kini Allen
Kini Allen is a devoted reader of romance, blogger/reviewer for SmexyBooks.com, an active participant of Romance Twitter and gets jumpy if her Kindle isn’t with her at all times. She spends her days as a project manager and her nights catering to her cat, Kitty Scarlett.
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