As February approaches, we are excited to host the webinar “Tips, Tropes, and Trends: Romance” on February 6 with editor Wendy Loggia of Delacorte Press/Random House Children’s Books. Wendy will give advice on how to approach the topic of romance in MG and YA novels. In preparation for the event, Lindsay Bandy had a virtual chat with Wendy for EasternPennPoints. Here’s what they had to say.
A Café Chat with Senior Executive Editor Wendy Loggia, by Lindsay Bandy
Lindsay: Hi there, Wendy, and welcome to the EasternPennPoints Café! As you settle in to our cozy booth, can we get you something to drink? How about a little something to munch on? A leftover holiday treat, perhaps?
Wendy: How nice of you to offer! Let’s go with a hot mug of Earl Grey tea with a little honey on the side and some shortbread.
Lindsay: Super choices. I’ll have a vanilla chai latte and some of my mom’s oatmeal raisin cookies. (Thanks, Mom!) Okay, so you’ve got me feeling all the nostalgic warm and fuzzies already, between holiday treats and your recent picture book biography of Lucille Ball! I Love Lucy was a staple of my childhood on Nick at Nite, and I love seeing her introduced to a new generation. But what’s it like to switch hats between author and editor?
Wendy: It’s energizing—my day as an editor is spent as a liaison between departments, attending meetings, making sure the bookmaking is moving along, and, of course, being there for my authors—and in truth, a lot of writing. I write editorial letters, cover copy, and plenty of emails but having the chance to tell a story and to think creatively in the way a writer does is something I love to do. And the projects I’ve written are not always in line with the projects I edit—I’ve never edited a biography, for example, which made the Little Golden Book on Lucille Ball such a fun story to take on—so having the chance to write outside my day job expertise is a thrill.
Lindsay: Our upcoming webinar will be focused on romance, so who are some of your all-time favorite couples?
Wendy: Ahh, great question! George and Mary Bailey (It’s a Wonderful Life), Cathy and Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights), Rose and Jack (Titanic), Mallory and Jake (28 Summers), Belle and the Beast, Lucy and Ricky! And so many of the couples in the books I’ve worked on.
Lindsay: Let’s talk chemistry. Whether it’s a middle school crush or a love story that spans decades, there’s that elusive spark that makes a couple compelling. But when I think back to chemistry class in high school, it was all formulas and numbers! How do writers balance the formulas of romance while keeping the spark alive?
Wendy: There are so many tropes, right? Friends to lovers, grumpy sunshine, enemies to lovers, fake dating, the list goes on. It’s those writers who can take a trope and make it their own, through the worlds they build, the characters they create, and the situations said characters find themselves in—that’s what keeps the spark of reading alive and in turn, the romance. I’ve read hundreds (thousands?) of romance proposals and manuscripts and it’s those writers who are able to create something new and different that I’m continually drawn to. Ali Hazelwood, Stephanie Garber, and Jesse Q. Sutanto are writers that keep me on my toes. I always know I’m in for something fresh—something swoony—when I pick up one of their books.
Lindsay: Some of our readers might be writing under the romance genre, while others might be incorporating romance into a comedy, mystery, thriller, or historical novel. When it comes to YA, what sets romance apart as a genre?
Wendy: It’s a happy escape and so needed right now. What I’m looking for in a romance is, firstly, romance (you’d be surprised at how many “romance” manuscripts have come my way that have, um, no romance) great dialogue, a plot that pulls me in, characters that are relatable to our teen audience, and always, always, always, a happy ending.
Lindsay: Um, Wendy, I think it’s time we had THE TALK. Wait! No! Please don’t run away! I just need to know . . . what about sex in YA fiction? As a librarian, I’ve seen YA trending “older” in recent years, with more mature themes and content. As an editor, do you see that trend continuing, and do you have any “rules” about dealing with sex both responsibly and realistically while writing for teens?
Wendy: Responsibly and realistically are what’s important to me. I’m continually thinking of our readers ages 11 to 16, knowing that we have adult readers as well, and knowing that not every 15-year-old is the same or looking for the same type of book. Although many of the books we publish fall into the “crossover” territory, the tween/teen reader is always who I have in mind when acquiring and when editing. Open-door romance, closed-door romance, sweet romance—I’m open to all kinds of romance for YA, though if you’re in the spicy romance category I’d say you’re probably writing for adults or teens who gravitate toward adult romance and, therefore, not for us.
Teens are reading Colleen Hoover, and I love that she has a graphic on her website with her books identified into three categories: YA, which she classifies as 14+ instead of the typical 12 and up; Mature, 17+; and Whoa, Very Mature/Dark. Our readers are learning about relationships—what’s healthy and positive, and what isn’t.
Books provide a safe space—seeing a character navigate the ups and downs of crushes, first love, first relationship, first heartbreaks can inform how they approach relationships in real time. Our Underlined paperback romances tend to be of the sweet variety, books that you could hand to an 11-year-old that wants a little romantic plotline; when it comes to more mature themes/content, if it’s right for the story, I have no qualms about a writer going there—I trust the instincts of the authors I work with.
Lindsay: Okay, Wendy, we’ve lured you in with treats and asked you the hard questions. Now it’s time for rapid-fire favorites! Take a deep breath and think fast! What’s your favorite . . .
Type of weather: Sunny autumn day in the Northeast, the leaves in full array
Musical artist: Luke Bryan, Harry Styles, Roxy Music, and anything dance/pop
Comfort food: My homemade mac & cheese
Vacation spot: The beach—nothing beats watching the tide at golden hour
Place to read: In transit (bus, plane, train)—a book makes the time go so much faster
Lindsay: Whew! You did it! It has been a delight having you as our guest today! We can’t wait to hear all of your tips and ask you even MORE questions in February!
Wendy: Thank you! Can’t wait.
Wendy Loggia is VP/Senior Executive Editor at Delacorte Press/Random House Children’s Books, where she edits MG/YA fiction, oversees Underlined, a line of YA genre paperbacks, and Joy Revolution, an imprint focusing on YA romance by and about POC. Recent titles she’s edited at Delacorte include, in middle grade, Dear Student by Elly Swartz, Mine by Delilah S. Dawson, the SInister Summer series by Kiersten White and the Sisters Ever After seriesby Leah Cypess; in YA, French Kissing in New York by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau; The Island by Natasha Preston, Small Favors by Erin A. Craig, Friends Like These by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon, and The Words We Keep by Erin Stewart; and for Underlined, Killer Content by Kiley Roache and Salaam, With Love by Sara Sharaf Beg. She is also an author of books for tweens and teens, and her books have been published in multiple languages. All I Want for Christmas is her latest novel and for young readers, A Little Golden Book: Taylor Swift will be out this May. Follow her on Instagram at @authorwendyloggia and @wendyloggia on Twitter.
Tips, Tropes and Trends: Romance
February 6, 2023 at 7:00 p.m.
Love is in the manuscript this Valentine’s season! Whether you’re writing a MG crush, a romantic subplot, or a full-on genre YA romance, join us for some practical advice, a look at some common tropes (a.k.a. frequently appearing situations or plots in romance manuscripts), and a discussion on the general direction of market trends. Don’t forget to bring your questions for a time of Q & A at the end of the evening.
For more information and to register, go to https://epa.scbwi.org/events/webinar-tips-tropes-trends-romance/