Shauna Summers is an Executive Editor for Penguin Random House. She’s an avid reader and book lover with a lifelong romance reading habit. She’s always looking for great women’s fiction and she knows it’s vague, but… She reads a lot of books and looks for compelling stories with great characters even in her pleasure reading time.
Penguin Random House includes the following imprints: Bantam Books, Ballantine Books, Del Rey, Delacorte/Dell, Random House, Modern Library, Dial Press, Villard, One World, and ESPN books. Their Digital Imprints are Alibi, Flirt, Hydra and Loveswept. They publish in all formats–hardcover, mass market and trade paperback–and publish pretty much every kind of book there is, all kinds of fiction and non-fiction.
Please welcome Shauna Summers to the blog.
I’ve been thinking about story more than usual lately: what makes a great story, what we want in a story, and how to apply to romance what’s connecting in the general pop culture universe. Three main ideas come to mind:
My favorite book of this year so far is Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible, a modern-day retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It is so smart and fun and satisfying, with that magic something to the characters that makes for a top-notch read. Most everyone loves a clever and heartfelt reinvention of a classic story.
My favorite TV show this summer has been Stranger Things on Netflix. It captures so many of the elements and all the feels of some of my favorite 80s movies like Goonies, Stand by Me, and Poltergeist, with a little Spielberg thrown in for good measure. The performances are what really make it, though, bringing to vivid life characters I can’t help but love. People are often drawn to narratives that are satisfyingly familiar.
Back in 2007, I heard the brilliant Kate Duffy say that what contemporary romance (which wasn’t selling at that time, though every editor was looking for it) needed was some of the energy that was making paranormal sell like gangbusters. Just a handful of years later, that is exactly what happened when Edward Cullen got channeled into Christian Grey—a beloved character archetype updated, to wild success.
They say there is nothing new under the sun, and that everything old is new again. Which may or may not be true, but here’s what’s definitely true: There are many ways to tell a great story, but it always comes back to the characters.
Thank you for these thoughts on story Shauna. It’s something that is always on writers’ minds. One more question for you:
What are your favorite 3 romantic movies? AND/OR favorite movies ever?
I love Out of Sight, Speed, and the Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice. I think it’s superior to the BBC adaptation for many reasons but one of the main things I love about it is how the scene where Darcy proposes to Lizzy captures the perfect (and seemingly impossible) blend of being very upsetting (as that scene always is in any incarnation) but also super-hot.
Hmmm, I am now going to have to give the Keira Knightly version another watch to see if it can beat out Colin Firth as Darcy. Matthew Mcfadyen, Colin Firth, Matthew Mcfadyen, Colin Firth. A lovely dilemma indeed.