Small traditional West Australian publisher Serenity Press is romancing short fiction with a series of anthologies, novellas and novelettes featuring love swept stories for romantics at heart. This week I chat with editorial director Monique Mulligan about the selection process for their newest anthology, A Bouquet of Love, and the challenges of producing a selection of 10 themed stories.
ITOW: Authors were invited to submit short romances that featured Serendipity Bridal Boutique, its manager and staff. Why did you decide to link the stories in this way rather than following a more general romantic theme?
MM: Aside from liking the idea of linked stories, we wanted to challenge both authors and ourselves with something a little different. So, we brainstormed and came up with the idea of the bridal boutique, then its name (we both love the word serendipity) and from there I wrote a submission brief.
ITOW: What did you look for when making your selection of which stories to include?
MM: It was a combination of things – a great story with solid writing, plenty of romantic “feels”, a happy ending, and we wanted the links to the salon to be more than passing mentions.
ITOW: What was the most challenging aspect of producing this anthology?
MM: The editing – firstly, making sure each story shone in its own right (no, that wasn’t an intentional pun), but also making sure all the stories connected consistently. Was Kyle a fashion designer or stylist? Was the boutique manager Kate’s characterisation consistent?
ITOW: What did you enjoy most about working on this title?
MM: The enthusiasm and support of the authors has been fantastic. But also, seeing the stories come together as a whole in the final product – that was a special moment.
ITOW: Will there be another Bouquet of Love anthology featuring Serendipity Bridal Boutique?
MM: What a great idea! I definitely think we should keep it in mind.
ITOW: Individual stories from Serenity Press’s debut anthology, Rocky Romance, have been released as novelettes. Can we expect to see some of the stories from A Bouquet of Love also becoming available in this format?
MM: Yes, our plan is to release some of the stories as standalone novelettes in the year following its release.
ITOW: Is your focus on romantic fiction or do you publish other genres?
MM: We also publish children’s fiction for younger readers and middle grades. Next year we are venturing into new territory with a fairy tale collection aimed at young adults, and our intention is to build upon that niche.
ITOW: Serenity Press is a small independent boutique publisher. What is the advantage for authors of working with such a small press?
MM: Lots! We work closely with our authors and give each book special attention. We value authors’ input on covers and illustrations. And we have high standards for our finished products. Also, we offer higher royalties than bigger publishers.
ITOW: What’s your top tip for aspiring romance authors?
MM: That’s hard! Read a variety of romances – immerse yourself in the world of romance so you know what readers expect. If you hate reading romances, how can you write a romance that sends readers into a swoon, or wiping tears from their eyes, or just sighing with contentment?
Ten couples not looking for love find something unexpected when they visit Serendipity Bridal Boutique, Kate Peron’s vintage-styled salon. Love is in the air and it’s about to blow into their lives, bringing fortunate accidents of the heartfelt variety to those lucky enough to walk through Serendipity’s doors.
A man comes to Eagle Point to stop a wedding. A magazine editor finds herself in a cheesy situation. A different kind of bride takes to the catwalk. Readers will be swept away by this bouquet of stories from ten Australian authors – stories of healing and second chances, of opening hearts and minds, of souls connecting and remembering, of temptation and desire. Life and love in Eagle Point has never been more challenging … or fun!
From cupcake wielding assassins to hilarious blind date set-ups, there’s something for everyone in this delightfully romantic collection that proves there can never be too much ado about love.
Buy the paper back here.
Buy the e-book here.