Robin Wells: Writing About Challenging Situations in Women's Fiction

Bestselling romance and women's fiction novelist Robin Wells shares why her latest novel (She Gets That From Me) took longer than normal to complete, how her editor surprised her, what we all deep-down yearn for, and more!
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Robin Wells was an advertising and public relations executive before becoming a full-time writer. She always dreamed of writing novels–a dream inspired by a grandmother who told "hot tales" and parents who were both librarians. Her books have won the RWA Golden Heart, two National Readers' Choice Awards, the HOLT Medallion, and numerous other awards. 

Robin Wells (photo credit Arden Wells)

Robin Wells (photo credit Arden Wells)

(Forced Proximity: 50 reasons for your characters to be stuck together.)

She now lives in Texas with her husband, but will always be a Louisiana girl at heart.

In this post, Wells shares why this novel took longer than normal to complete, how her editor surprised her, what we all deep-down yearn for, and more!


Fearless Writing William Kenower

If you love to write and have a story you want to tell, the only thing that can stand between you and the success you’re seeking isn’t craft, or a good agent, or enough Facebook friends and Twitter followers, but fear. Fear that you aren’t good enough, or fear the market is too crowded, or fear no one wants to hear from you. Fortunately, you can’t write while being in the flow and be afraid simultaneously. The question is whether you will write fearlessly!

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Name: Robin Wells
Literary agent: Steven Axelrod, The Axelrod Agency
Title: She Gets That From Me
Publisher: Berkley
Release date: September 22, 2020
Genre: Women's Fiction
Previous titles: The Wedding Tree, The French War Bride, and 16 other novels

Elevator pitch for the book: When New Orleans interior designer Quinn Landry steps in to raise three-year-old Lily after her best friend dies, little does she know that she will also be caring for Lily's 80-year-old great-grandmother—or dealing with Lily's sperm donor father who wants to play a role in her life and his jealous wife.


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What prompted you to write this book?

I love writing about challenging situations that force the characters to change, and nothing is more challenging or life-changing than becoming a parent. Having a child lifts you to a whole new level of love. It's an experience filled with joy, terror, hilarity, chaos, and worry—as well as tender moments when your heart feels like a ripe peach about to explode with sweetness.

What if you long to have a child, but you haven't found the right partner—or what if you and your partner can't have a child together for some physical reason? What about sperm or egg donors?

(Women's Fiction or Romance: The Differences, and 5 Reasons Why They Matter.)

I started thinking about these things years ago when I used to drive past a fertility clinic on the way to my daughters' preschool. I'd watch the clients go in and out, and wonder about their stories. In fact, back when I was writing romantic comedies, I wrote a book about a mix-up at a fertility center. Now that I'm writing women's fiction, I wanted to revisit the topic and do a deeper, more focused dive into the hearts and minds of the characters.

When my editor, Kate Seaver, expressed an interest in a book about a single mother by choice, my imagination was primed and ready. I think I'd been incubating this story for years.


How long did it take to go from idea to publication?

I normally write a book in about a year, but this one took me three times as long. The characters and their backstories kept evolving.

(Writing Multiple Points of View.)

The book has four different viewpoints: Quinn, who is the godmother of three-year-old Lily; Margaret, Lily's grandmother; Zack, who is Lily's sperm donor; and Jessica, who is Zack's wife struggling with infertility issues.

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this title?

I wasn't happy with the first draft. After discussing it with my editor, I decided to take out Jessica's POV and make Zack divorced when the story opened. It seemed like the perfect fix—until I tried to implement it. Jessica just wouldn't go away! It turned out she was integral to the story and the growth of the other characters. That detour on my writer's journey wasn't wasted, though; I discovered new ways of deepening the plot and the character development.

Were there any surprises in the publishing process for this book?

My editor frequently surprised and delighted me with her insights. She has an excellent eye for pinpointing how to make a story better.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

I hope they'll think about how childhoods and families of origin shape us all, for better and for worse; how we'd all have more empathy for each other if we knew the full story behind each other's behavior and beliefs; how all of us are constantly affecting and influencing the people around us, whether we realize it or not; and how many different ways there are to create a family—a group of people who will root for us, pick us up when we fall and forgive our failings. 

(How to write disaster stories infused with hope.)

We all have a deep-down yearning to belong to a loving tribe. Writing this novel gave me a renewed appreciation for the loved ones in my life. I hope reading it does the same for readers.

If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?

Follow your instincts. If something isn't working, try another way. Go back to the last good part and start afresh. Look for the lessons in your failures and use them to propel your story forward.

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