Roger Harvey became ‘Vanessa Harvey’ for the American release of his novel River of Dreams.
The long-established writer entered the Romance market when River of Dreams was accepted by The Wild Rose Press of New York–whose readers expect Romance authors to be female.
“Luckily, this was a painless and ‘virtual’ sex-change,” jokes Roger. “I don’t mind being ‘Vanessa’ for this book; it’s part of the marketing. After all, it is rumoured that several hugely successful Mills & Boon authors are men, and J. K. Rowling let it be assumed she was male in order to get on in the publishing world. However, I’m glad it’s instantly reversible: the Barbara Cartland look just doesn’t go with my moustache and bald patch.”
River of Dreams starts out as a light-hearted love story set on the River Thames where the heroine goes to work in a luxury boatyard, with a romantic climax in the spectacular setting of Edinburgh at festival time, but deeper concerns of the characters and developments of the plot take it satisfyingly beyond the constraints of its apparent genre.
“One reviewer called my leading character Beth Black ‘a fine Scots heroine’, and indeed she is, but in a twist away from tradition I’ve made her a fiftysomething businesswoman past childbearing age, from which some of the drama springs. Of course it’s not a conventional ‘woman’s romance’ at all. I’ve sneaked a Roger Harvey adventure under the radar.”
Readers of Roger’s novels and short stories will appreciate this means a lush and cinematic treatment of a page-turning plot with a good sprinkling of action sequences, love scenes and highly-charged poetic writing.
“There’s even a joke or two,” adds Roger. “The story itself and my treatment of it didn’t quite fit the traditional ‘woman’s market’ in Britain, but the Americans–who like their romances to be set in the world of business–loved it and The Wild Rose Press offered me a good deal for the book, calling it ‘sweet and sexy, but cool and witty too’. I hope many readers will identify with Beth Black, who has to juggle business and personal relationships, sort out other people’s problems without losing her own identity, and fight for her own future happiness when what should be a tremendous opportunity turns out to have some less-than-wonderful strings attached. As in many a good romance, the attractive heroine has a choice of handsome and not always reliable suitors, but the course of true love certainly doesn’t run smooth as she has to overcome problems at work and serious family tensions to achieve the happy ending. Many twists in the story take it away from the traditional ‘girl-finds-husband’ formula; sometimes it’s dark, sometimes comic. I enjoyed creating entertaining minor characters including hippy wild-child Jill and pint-sized bubble-permed Brazilian footballer Raimundo who pursues a Page Three girl while keeping his roving eye on older women. It’s fun, but it’s a serious love story too. As in all my books, the setting itself becomes a character, full of treats for the senses. Some friends and colleagues have had a laugh at the concept of ‘Vanessa Harvey’, but I shan’t object. I may even join them in a good chuckle if satisfying royalties come in.”
River of Dreams, ISBN 1601544200, is published in the USA by The Wild Rose Press. Order direct from their website thewildrosepress.com by checking their catalog, quoting ISBN and requesting the print version for immediate shipping.