Romancetagram Real-Talk with @romancebookjunkie

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Odette, also known as @romancebookjunkie, is a romancestagrammer from Australia. She’s my best frenemy, bane of my existence, queen of behind the scenes, and absolutely romance obsessed.

What got you in to romance? Do you remember your first romance novel?

It was a very gradual progression- first I started with murder mysteries that had elements of a romance, which then progressed into chick lit (I really hate that terminology) and then I discovered the one and only Nora Roberts. She opened up this pathway to me and everything clicked to me- this was everything I wanted to read but didn’t know I wanted to read. I devoured about 30 of her books before adventuring to other authors.

Your romancestagram shots are things of legend. From using actual scalpels as props (why?? Why do you have a scalpel??) to borrowing your sister’s lingerie, you always go that extra mile. What’s your creative process like? Do you plan out your photos and reviews in advance?

Sometimes I am inspired by the cover and sometimes I get inspired when reading the book, and it’s this “ah ha” moment and I can see exactly what I want the picture to look like and then it’s just a matter of transferring that image from my head to creating it and taking the photo. I will sometimes even be just doing everyday things and it will just come to me and then I’m stalking a man through a car park to see where he parks his motorbike so I can take a picture of the Motorcycle romance book I’m reading alongside his bike.

You also always give us hilarious behind the scenes looks at what it took to make a photo happen (like whipping out a book and camera at your friend’s wedding ceremony or having your sister and her boyfriend recreate a cover). What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to get the shot?

Well apart from stalking a biker, and taking a pic as my friend walks down the aisle, would either have to be taking my book to my friend’s bridal fitting appointment and making her stand still while I “get the shot” or making my sister dress up in a hot pink coat and high heels in the middle of summer, find a dark alley and recreate the book cover (which also included making her run)- which is still one of my favourites to this day.

What are your favorite aspects about romancestagram? Any major pet peeves?

I have never felt so understood than I do in this amazing community. For years I hid my reading preferences and even blatantly lied about what I was reading because I felt embarrassed- I didn’t know any other romance readers. And then one year I decided to start my bookstagram (I didn’t know it was a thing) as a way to chronicle what I was reading to then discover there was a whole community of women who loved romance just as much as I did. Now I get to talk romance books and life with some incredible women (whose names aren’t Mazey [Author’s note: RUDE!!!]) who get me on a fundamental level. This community really is all about women supporting women and I’m here for it! 

As for pet peeves, this isn’t necessarily a pet peeve as much as jealousy of people who appear to have their lives together by being able to follow prompts daily- I wish my life was together enough to be able to do that! However, I am in awe of those that do.

As much as I hate to compliment you so publicly, I’m so impressed with the range of subgenres you read. If you had to pick one rec for each of these subgenres, what would it be?

Historical: The Earl I Ruined– Scarlett Peckham

Contemporary: Kiss an Angel– Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Old school: The Bride– Julie Garwood

ParanormalWolf Gone Wild Juliette Cross

Suspense: Hidden– Rebecca Zanetti

Fantasy: The Winter King by CL Wilson ( I even rec’d this to a man once who wanted to read a romance to see what it was about and he normally liked fantasy books. He came back to me when he finished to say he was absolutely blown away and it had changed his whole thinking about the romance genre)

What makes a great romance for you? Are there certain tropes you gravitate towards, or maybe types of heroes or heroines?

There are definitely tropes that I gravitate towards to such as marriages of convenience, beauty and the beast retellings and I gravitate towards kick-ass heroine (not necessarily physically kick ass but who emotionally own their feelings). But this does not necessarily comprise a fantastic romance- all I want is a book I don’t want to put down, that isn’t too much to ask for, is it? I think the magic is very much in the author’s take on these things.

If you could have dinner with any romance author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

JR Ward- not only does she write the most incredible vampire romance series which is my all-time favourite but she is absolutely fascinating. I listened to an interview with her on the Wicked Wallflowers podcast and my mind exploded. Her writing process and how she physically “sees” her characters in front of her and can get totally lost in their world is like nothing I’ve ever heard of before.

There’s no denying the stigma attached to romance readers by the general public. Have you ever experienced any of this first hand? Do you tell people you read romance?

Oh 100%. I have become a lot more comfortable in the last couple of years in being loud and proud of the fact that I read romance (and I even take great pleasure in letting men know on first dates if they ask then watch them squirm in their seats because they don’t know what to say). I have had both friends and family members joke about it and call it my “porn” or “not real fiction” and tell me “for a smart person you sure don’t read smart book.” And you know what? That used to get me down but the joke is really on them because they have no idea what they are missing out on.

Do you have any advice for people looking to start their own romancestagram account?

My main advice is to do what YOU want to do, not necessarily what you see everyone else doing. For me my romancestatgram account is an expression of me and my thoughts and feelings on the books I read. Be genuine- and be you!

How has reading romance positively affected your life? What does the genre mean to you?

What a whopper of a question! I think since I embraced my love of reading romance I’ve really been able to come into my own (yes, I’m totally aware of how corny that sounds). It has allowed me to gain a greater sense of self and lets me own who I am and not make any apologies. Reading romance is an outlet I need from the real world- it helps me stay sane and who doesn’t want some sanity in their lives?

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