Writers and pleasure readers take note — there’s an intriguing supplement to Chautauqua Institution’s literary arts events and courses this week.
With a talk titled, “From At-Home Mom to New York Times Best-seller,” Katy Regnery — also a five-time USA Today best-selling author of the Blueberry Lane Series — will kick off the Chautauqua Professional Women’s Network’s 2017 season at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday at the CWC House.
Regnery is nothing if not passionate about romance writing. She said it emanated from an organic love of the genre sparked by the “shot in the arm” that E.L. James’ 2011 book Fifty Shades of Grey gave to the romance industry.
By 2015, when Chautauqua offered a Special Studies course titled “Beyond Fifty Shades: Writing the Romance Novel and Women’s Fiction,” the romance genre had become a massive industry. While Fifty Shades was not
Regnery’s favorite book, it reminded her that romance novels were her favorites when she was younger and she asked herself, “Could I do this?”
She could and she did, after taking a local continuing education course on short story writing in 2012. Five years on, Regnery — who grew up in Connecticut listening to her mother tell heartwarming and funny stories, and later graduated from Kenyon College in Ohio — has been prospering. (Although Kenyon is known for nurturing writers, she took no creative writing or English courses there.)
Writing comes easily to Regnery. To date she has published 33 e-books, none of which cost more than $4.99. By carefully structuring each in advance, she is now averaging about eight a year. Typically she completes a 90,000-word novel within three to four weeks.
“I don’t view what I do as a hobby,” Regnery said. “I’m not one of those creative types. I do not believe in writer’s block. There’s no such thing; there’s lazy. You just write. You force yourself through it. I look at this as a job. If I write nothing, there’s nothing to edit. I don’t go to sleep until my word count is met.”
for books and plots also comes easily to Regnery, who has been outlining her writing schedule for 2018. She said she is observant and likes to know how other people see the world.
For instance, when an uncomfortable situation occurs in her own life, she pays attention to her instinctual feelings about it, collects other people’s reactions to it, and is “constantly recalibrating the same story through every lens.”
One of her more popular series reinvents fairy tales. The first of this series, The Vixen and the Vet, reimagines Beauty and the Beast.
“What I offer is an interesting twist on something familiar,” she said.
What has set Regnery apart from other romance novelists is that she timed her reimagined fairy tales incredibly well for popular culture — not only in the U.S. and Canada, but also in Brazil.
“I was really watching what was going on in the entertainment world,” Regnery said. “I write for entertainment purposes and am fully cognizant of that. I saw the popularity of the ‘Once Upon a Time’ show. I took my son to see ‘Into the Woods.’ Everyone was buzzing about ‘Cinderella.’ This year it’s ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ ”
For Regnery, romance is an antidote to fear and bloodshed. There are happy endings. Nevertheless, “romance novels are incredibly disrespected,” she said. “I’m not sure why. There’s so much disdain for them. Other books with violence and hostility are glorified. Maybe it’s symptomatic of what’s going on in our country.”