The answer is no. A writer of romance fiction, or a doctor of medicine — writers like these don’t get royalties. They make what they can, but they can’t draw upon royalties for books they’ve written. I would say there are, like, 25.
You were writing novels based on your own life, right?
Yeah. I was about to break into the professional world. I was doing my degree — I was doing psychology and sociology — and I had, like, four unpublished books that I was working on in my spare time. At the time, I wasn’t ready to go out into print, but I really thought I’d go out. I was like, “I’m not going to do it like I did ‘The Little Lord Fauntleroy,’ which I didn’t really like.” When it came down to it, the last book that I had written was called Hetty and the Frog, and then I had to start something for myself, so I just started writing what I was really into.
How long had there been a publishing line there?
I had only begun publishing in December of ’72, when I was still in college. So I hadn’t had time to put the books out. I think I was actually writing for a few years before that when people were reading them.
. . . [I]t was when I was finishing my masters in psychology that I got a call from the book agent at Knopf: “Would you be interested in writing a book that’s specifically about an author you really like?” And I said, “Well of course I would!” And, so, they were like, “Would you be interested in a book about your life?” I said, “Well sure, but not like, like, a romance book or a romance-thriller book.” [Laughs.] It was one of the first romantic books I’d written.
Were you the only author signed to a deal at that point? What about the other guys who weren’t?
Well, I mean, I didn’t like [the other guys’ books] as much at that point. If you’d asked me, I could’ve written about the people I liked before I became famous, before I started writing. It wasn’t until I’d established myself that I was like, “Okay, I guess I’m probably on to something.” At that point, people had been writing for a while that had similar writing styles, and I
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