The Best-Selling Romance Author Alive
Anyone familiar with the romance genre knows about Nora Roberts. She is the best-selling author of romance novels alive. Roberts has been at the top for a long time, as Barbara Cartland–who sold over 1 billion books–has been deceased for almost twenty years.
She started out writing a short series romance, then branched out into single-title works of fiction, then exploded on the futuristic scene with her “In Death” series.
Roberts writes as J.D. Robb for the series, as mentioned earlier. In addition, she has also written books under the pseudonyms Jill March and–in the U.K.–Sarah Hardesty.
Nora Roberts: Early Life and Career
Superstar author Nora Roberts was born Eleanor Marie Robertson on October 10, 1950, in Silver Spring, Maryland. She was the youngest of five children.
After her Catholic school education, she married soon after high school. Roberts had two sons from that marriage which ended in divorce.
She worked briefly as a legal secretary. That would not be her calling, however. “I could type fast but couldn’t spell; I was the worst legal secretary ever,” Roberts has said.
After her sons were born, she stayed home and tried her hand at crafts.
A blizzard in February 1979 forced her hand to try another creative outlet. She was snowed in with a three and six-year-old with no kindergarten respite in sight and a dwindling supply of chocolate.
After achieving success as a category romance author, Roberts branched into other romance genres. Her skillful writing and prodigious output would garner a massive following of fans.
Roberts met her second husband, Bruce Wilder, when she hired him to build bookshelves. They were married in July 1985. Since then, they’ve expanded their home, traveled the world, and opened a bookstore together.
A Silhouette Sensation
Born into a family of readers, Nora had never known a time that she wasn’t reading or making up stories. During the now-famous blizzard, she pulled out a pencil and notebook and began to write down one of those stories. It was there that a career was born.
She was able to churn out several romantic manuscripts. Then she sent them out to publishers and was soundly rejected by most of them.
Harlequin, Ltd famously rebuffed Roberts, as they already had one American author in their stables: Janet Dailey. Dailey would eventually leave Harlequin and join Roberts to write for their rival, Silhouette, the Simon and Schuster imprint.
Decades later, Dailey would be involved in a plagiarism scandal, where she copied parts of Roberts’ works and passed them off as her own.
Nora Roberts’ first book, Irish Thoroughbred, was published by Silhouette in 1981.
The first writer inducted into the Romance Writer of America Hall of Fame, Nora Roberts, is known as the queen of romance fiction. She writes under other pen names, such as J.D. Robb. She is also known as “La Nora.”
Through the years, Nora has always been surrounded by men. Not only was she the youngest in her family, but she was also the only girl. She has raised two sons.
Thus having spent her life surrounded by men, Ms. Roberts has a reasonably good view of the workings of the male mind. This is a constant delight to her readers. She’s been quoted as saying, “It was a choice between figuring men out or running away screaming.”
Nora is a member of several writers’ groups and has won countless awards from her colleagues and the publishing industry. The New Yorker called her “America’s favorite novelist.”
“I know they say write what you know,” Roberts told a Publishers Weekly interviewer in 1998, “But I write about what I want to know.”
Indeed, her category romances rely less on realism and fully fleshed-out plots than on idealized characters and romanticized settings. Roberts views her works as appealing to readers on an emotional level. The books evoke feelings of first love, regrettable loss, and tender, fulfilling romance.
“That’s what people want to learn about,” the superstar author says.
Beyond Category Romance
After a decade of writing category romances, Nora Roberts released many single-issue full-length romance novels, from historicals to romantic suspense.
Then in 1995, using the pseudonym J.D. Robb, Roberts released Naked in Death. This was the first in a futuristic procedural series about police woman Eve Dallas and the handsome Irish billionaire Roarke.
The long-running series has been an astonishing success, with 67 books out so far.
Roberts is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 200 novels, including Hideaway, Under Currents, Come Sundown, The Awakening, Legacy, and The Becoming.
There are more than 500 million copies of her books in print, with no end in sight.