Robin York Talks ‘Deeper’
Deeper is the New Adult debut of USA Today bestselling contemporary romance author Ruthie Knox. In this new novel from her alter ego Robin York, a college student is attacked online and must restore her name—and stay clear of a guy who’s wrong for her, but feels so right. We’re thrilled to chat with Robin about this new direction.
You’re well known for your contemporary romances, but Deeper is your new adult debut. What appealed to you about writing in this category?
I was attracted to New Adult to begin with because my memories of the “new adult” period of my own life, from around 16 (I went to college young) to 25, are intense. I think it’s a time when we learn an enormous amount about ourselves as people — who we want to be, what we want our lives to look like, and how to make that happen — as well as about our limitations and about human limitations more generally. Our assumptions get challenged as things happen to us that we don’t expect or don’t know how to deal with.
And I don’t mean to sound condescending saying that, as though those challenges disappear afterward. But I think there’s something about confronting them early in adulthood that leaves lasting prints on our minds and in our bodies.
As a character-driven writer, I’m fascinated by people — how we make mistakes, how we learn, how we grow. My love stories are always stories centered around interpersonal change and development. So I was attracted by the idea of looking at characters who are in the middle of this interesting, vibrant (and often confusing and horrible) stage of life.
Many readers are still confused about what exactly “new adult” entails. What are they in for with Deeper and how does it differ from your previous romances?
I define “new adult” novels as novels that are about protagonists aged about 18 to 25. That is the only constraint I think the genre (or subgenre?) needs to concern itself with. I don’t think we need to limit ourselves by talking about who the novels are “for” (are they for young adults or new adults or adults?) or what they must contain (are they just sexier YA? or something else?).
There are certain tendencies in new adult romance that Deeper either embraces or plays with / talks back to. New adult stories tend to be emotionally turbulent coming of age tales about characters who have big flaws or make big mistakes. Deeper is all of those things. And both violence and sex are prominent in new adult. We see a lot of heroes who are violent and a lot of heroines who are traumatized by violence. We see intense sexual relationships that are often dictated or affected strongly by the characters’ pasts. I wanted to look at all of these things myself, but through my own lens, interrogating aspects of new adult stories that I found problematic and delving deeper into issues I think are really interesting.
In writing Deeper, I didn’t let myself worry much about what the characters were “allowed” to do. Would a drug-dealer hero work in contemporary adult romance? Probably not. But West, the hero of Deeper, unapologetically deals drugs. I kept my focus on authenticity and let the emotion go as deep as it needed to in order to tell the story I wanted to tell. I didn’t worry about what readers would allow these characters to do or be, nor did I concern myself about whether the characters’ behavior would seem mature or melodramatic, over the top or just right. I think the result is a book that’s more intense than anything else I’ve written, but that my fans will nonetheless recognize it as a “Ruthie Knox” book in many ways.
Can you tell us a little about your writing process for Deeper?
The story’s heroine, Caroline, is the target of “revenge porn” when her ex boyfriend shares their sex pictures on the Internet without her permission. Her character arc is very much tied to the ramifications of this act, both practically — how will it shape her behavior, her future, her education? — and emotionally — how will it shape how she feels about herself?
So I began there, by researching revenge porn online. I also spoke to a number of current college students about revenge porn — whether they know what it is, how they feel about it, how they think they would feel if it happened to them.
For the hero, West, who’s from a trailer park in an impoverished part of Oregon, I did some reading on generational poverty and how the culture of poverty differs from the culture of the middle class and the wealthy. Then I did some free writing about the characters to get to know them better and dove in.
I had a loose idea of the plot, but for the most part the story dictates its own development as I get to know the characters better. And then my editor, agent, and critique partners helped me figure out what to do when I’d wandered astray.
What books are currently sitting on your own nightstand?
My nightstand is virtual, since I read exclusively e-books these days! I just finished Charlotte Stein’s erotic futuristic romance Almost Real, which was awesome. Now I have a manuscript to read for my friend Serena Bell (who writes beautiful adult contemporary romance) that I’ve been looking forward to for weeks once she finished writing it. I’ve got another from Lauren Layne to read for a quote, and then I have two romantic suspense books by Carolyn Crane from her Assassins series (I love Carolyn’s work so much); Moriah Densley’s Song for Sophia, which someone recommended as a great historical “wonkomance” (a weird/wonky romance); and Theresa Weir’s Geek with the Cat Tattoo, a sequel to Girl with the Cat Tattoo, which I quite liked.
That’s it! I don’t like to let the books pile up on my e-reader. It makes me twitchy.
What can readers expect next from you?
After Deeper, Caroline and West’s story concludes in Harder, coming in July. As my alter ego Ruthie Knox, I’m in the middle of a long serial called Roman Holiday that will wrap up in March. Then my New York series, which includes the popular Wattpad serial Truly, will release in three books — Truly, Madly, and Completely — in late 2014. It will be a busy year!
Learn more and order your copy of Deeper here.
If you’d like to be featured as an author on Shelf Pleasure, email us here.
There's nothing we love more at Shelf Pleasure than a ..
Author and Shelf Pleasure contributor Karen A. Chase on how ..
One of author Mary Miley’s favorite things about being a ..
Author and police psychologist Ellen Kirschman, Ph.D., weighs the pitfalls ..
Little known fact about Shelf Pleasure's Kristen: she's obsessed with ..
Although Debbie De Louise has been a librarian and avid ..