In 5 minutes with author, Over60 asks book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next in this series is Nicola Marsh, an award-winning fiction writer. She has published 70 books – ranging from romance and domestic suspense to urban fantasy and supernatural thriller – and sold more than 8 million copies worldwide. Her newest book, Long Way Home, will be released on September 24.

Over60 talked with Marsh about J. K. Rowling, the amnesia trope, and what truly makes for a good romance.

Over60: What is your best writing tip?

Nicola Marsh: My best writing tip is to make it a habit. Daily if possible. The more you write, the faster you become. I like to compare it to flexing a muscle; using our writing muscle will hone and strengthen it. Writing is all about voice and the way to find your voice is by actually sitting down and getting the words on paper regularly.

What book do you think more people should read?

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, for the simple reason it showcases what a great romance is. It’s a great opposites attract story that’s both tender and sexy. Stella is a neuro-diverse heroine that hires a half Vietnamese-half Swedish escort to teach her about sex. It’s wonderful.

How have your past job(s) influenced your writing?

Working as a physiotherapist for 13 years before I started writing means I appreciate my dream job even more now. The creative side of my brain has taken over the scientific side and I’m loving it. I get to manipulate characters rather than manipulating backs!

What was the last book that made you laugh or cry?

I can bawl at movies but rarely cry when reading, so a book really has to touch me for that to happen. I read Kelly Rimmer’s Before I Let You Go a few months ago and that definitely made me cry. It’s a beautifully poignant story about sisters, the trials of their upbringing, drug addiction and a baby.

Do you have any writing routine? If so, what does it look like?

Writing is my full-time job, so I treat it as such. Once I get the kids off to school I do a 40-minute gym workout before settling down to write. I try to get 5 hours done before the madness of being a mum starts all over again with school pick-up and the rest. If I’m juggling tight deadlines for several publishers, I’ll try to write a few hours in the evening too.

What do you think makes a good romance fiction?

Creating characters that readers connect with and invest in. I’m an avid reader and nothing keeps me turning pages faster than characters that are real and that I care about. So that’s what I strive for in creating my stories.

Which author, deceased or living, would you most like to have dinner with?

J. K. Rowling, because her story fascinates me. The number of times she was rejected, being published, having her books become a worldwide phenomenon, the movies, her change in lifestyle… intriguing stuff that would make the perfect dinner conversation.

What trope grinds your gears? Alternatively, is there a cliché that you can’t help but love?

I’m not a huge fan of the amnesia trope. It’s one I’ve never tackled in my writing once in 70 books because I find it hard to connect with as a reader.

As for tropes I love, there’s nothing better than a good friends to lovers romance.

Article created in partnership with Over60.