This week we’re excited to introduce our newest author for Harlequin DARE, Taryn Belle! Read below to learn about her path to “Getting the Call” from Harlequin…
My path to Getting The Call was an overnight success story…that was two-and-a-half years in the making!
My career as an author began in 2014 with the publication of my first memoir, North of Normal, soon followed up by a second memoir, Nearly Normal. At that point, knowing I’d found my passion in writing but with the well of my life story tapped out, I began to wonder what other genre I could pursue. My agent and editor both suggested I try my hand at fiction. I worried that I didn’t have the imagination for it, but they insisted I’d be able to take it on. I decided that if they thought I could do it, then do it I would—after all, I’d already written two bestsellers, both of which had required me to spend years cramming the random events of my life into a narrative that read like fiction. I imagined that having the freedom to depart from the truth should make writing even easier! Riding high on a crest of optimism, I started planning out my first novel.
As it turned out, my enthusiasm waned quickly. Over the next two years I wrote four entire novels, only to discard them because either I thought they weren’t good enough or, more disheartening, because my agent didn’t. One of them took me a full year to write, and I could barely stomach reading one page of it. I lost sleep trying to come up with interesting plot lines. My career felt dead in the water. I became weepy with my husband, snappy with my children and highly frustrated with myself.
Lucky for me, I’ve had many run-ins with failure in my life. I know that my greatest achievements typically follow a pattern: try, fail, try harder, fail harder, try my very hardest, and finally succeed. Like so many times before, I vowed not to give up.
I can’t actually recall how I first got the idea to try writing romance, except that at some point in tossing out my various attempts at domestic noir thrillers, I decided I needed to write something that made me happy. I found myself nostalgically recalling the romances I used to enjoy reading in my 20’s. On an impulse, I went on the Harlequin website and started researching their series. The one that appealed to me most was Harlequin DARE, with its sexy story lines and independent heroines. An idea began to form in my head about a woman who gets caught in the middle of a celebrity scandal and escapes it by moving to a super-private island to become a scuba instructor to the rich and famous. There she meets the man of her dreams, but both of their worlds quickly threaten to implode when she learns the true nature of his visit to the island. Incredibly, I had a finished manuscript in just three weeks. When it was done, I realized that for the first time in ages I’d actually looked forward to sitting down at my laptop every day—and that, I decided, was something to pay close attention to.
After my agent green-lit the manuscript, she submitted it to Kathleen Scheibling, Executive Editor of Harlequin DARE. While I was waiting for her to read it, I picked out a romantic-sounding pen name, just in case: Taryn Belle. A few weeks later my agent’s phone number turned up on my screen. She tends to email me when the news is bad and call me when it’s good, so I had a good feeling about it. And I was right—she told me that Kathleen loved my story and was offering me a three-book deal! I was thrilled for the positive feedback and opportunity, but mostly I was proud that once again, I had refused to give up.
I’m so excited to share my romance stories with the amazing readers of Harlequin!