Nora Roberts Entrevista no The Wall Street Journal

Keeping the 'Noraholics' Happy

Romance writer Nora Roberts didn't bother to celebrate when she finished her 200th book, "The Witness."

"I don't really count," says Ms. Roberts, a 61-year-old grandmother with red hair and a gravelly smoker's voice.

She took a couple of days off to catch up on chores and gardening. Then she launched into her 201st, "Celebrity in Death," the next installment of a futuristic romantic suspense series that she writes under the pen name J.D. Robb. She's since finished her 202nd, a romance novel set near her home in Maryland, and her 203rd, "Delusion in Death," another J.D. Robb book. She's now writing her 204th, "Whiskey Beach," a romantic suspense novel set in coastal Massachusetts.
[ARENA] Bruce Wilder

'If I wasn't talking to you, I would be working,' Ms. Roberts says.

Ms. Roberts's legendary output has helped her become one of America's biggest commercial authors, with close to 450 million copies of her books in print. In 2011 alone, she sold nearly 20 million copies.

"If I wasn't talking to you, I would be working," she says. "What else would I do? Putter and do laundry? That's a scary thought."

Ms. Roberts typically publishes five new books a year—a romance trilogy, two J.D. Robb mysteries and what her publisher calls "the Big Nora," a hardcover stand-alone romance. "The Witness," which comes out next week, is this year's Big Nora. It centers on Elizabeth Fitch, a beautiful young computer genius who goes into hiding in a small town after witnessing a murder, and falls for the local police chief.

Ms. Roberts writes for six to eight hours every day, fueled by Diet Pepsi and Winston Filter 100s cigarettes. She doesn't use ghost writers, co-writers or a research assistant. "Then I'd have to talk to somebody, and I'd rather not," she says.

Leslie Gelbman, Ms. Robert's editor and publisher at Berkley Books, keeps a color-coded spreadsheet of Ms. Robert's releases tacked to her wall. Her 2012 publishing schedule lists 23 releases—a mix of hardcovers, mass-market paperbacks and trade paperbacks.

Ms. Roberts was raised in an Irish Catholic family in Maryland. She began writing one day in 1979 during a blizzard, when she was stuck home with her two young sons. Silhouette, a romance imprint, published her debut novel, "Irish Thoroughbred," in 1981. Over the next three years, she published more than 20 novels. Her books broke traditional romance conventions: They featured non-virginal, flawed heroines, ensemble casts and snappy dialogue tinged with sarcasm, and were occasionally written from the hero's point of view. Her unconventional stories helped transform the genre, which has exploded into a $1.4 billion industry.

She created her alter-ego, J.D. Robb, in 1995, so she could publish more books. At the time, Ms. Roberts's publisher, Putnam, worried she would cannibalize her sales by releasing so many books a year. Her agent, Amy Berkower, persuaded Putnam to release a new trilogy under a pseudonym.

Many of her fans, it seems, have no problem keeping up. "People will still say, 'Can't she write faster?' " says Nina Friedman, a "Noraholic" who moderates discussions on Ms. Roberts's fan website. Ms. Friedman, 62, a retired travel agent and bookstore manager who lives in San Diego, has read all 199 of Ms. Roberts's books, some of them 10 times. She has copies of every one. "Even the elusive "Promise Me Tomorrow, " she says, referring to a 1984 romance that Ms. Roberts keeps out of print because she doesn't like it.

Ms. Friedman says she's drawn to the books for their memorable characters, humor, and invariably happy endings. She says she's never found the plots to be repetitive.

"I have never picked up a book and thought, 'Oh, I've read that before," she says. "Never."

Publicado em 20 Abril 2012






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