Swati Hegde on Editing, Inspiration, and Diversity in Romance

Here at RomanceBooks.Blog, we have the honor and privilege to interact with some pretty fantastic people. Today, we got to sit down with Swati Hegde, an editor, beta reader, writer, and YouTuber, to ask her some questions about her work with the Romance Genre.

Here’s what Swati had to say.

1. What are your favorite types of Romance stories to edit?

Definitely contemporary romances that are medium on the ‘sexy’ scale. And I love tropes – whether it’s best friends falling in love, enemies to lovers, or the brother’s best friend – squeal! The two-person POV style of writing is also growing on me, and now I’m always looking forward to finding romances that have both the hero and heroine’s perspectives. It does make editing challenging, since you have to make sure both voices are highly distinct and don’t sound like the same person just trying to talk differently, but I love a good challenge!

Nicole: Oh, yes. I concur, the two-person POV is really getting big in our genre, and I have to say, I kinda like it! (Especially for audio books.)

2. What do you do when you aren’t editing books?

Swati brunchWriting them! I write romance myself – seven books down, and a gazillion more to go! I want to go the traditional route, though, so I’m still on the hunt for an agent and publisher. But when I’m not editing or writing, I’m reading, listening to music, and doing POP Pilates.

Nicole: (OMG, I love POP Pilates, too! It burns so good.)

3. What other types of books do you edit? Which one is your favorite?

My two most popular genres to edit are YA and romance, and while those are my favorite genres to read and write as well, I also enjoy editing fantasy, slice-of-life and non-fiction. I’m really not picky. I edit four to five books at a time, so variety is always preferred.

4. Do you have any secret pet peeves that Romance Authors tend to do in their writing?

Oh, haha, yep. I’ve noticed a LOT of romance authors using the word ‘orbs’ in place of ‘eyes’. I don’t know why they do that! Just say “I could feel the heat of his gaze” instead of “I could feel the heat radiating from his shiny gray orbs”. The guy is not a psychic or a fortune teller, dear author.

Nicole: I have to agree, ‘orbs’ does paint an unusual picture … like big balls coming out of sockets with no eyelids or something. (Lol)

5. What, in your opinion, is the best thing romance authors can give to their readers?

emotionEmotion that comes from the author’s heart. Write emotion honestly. If your gut tells you to skip the [happily ever after], do it. If your gut tells you your characters should say “I do”, do it. Simple as that.

Write emotion honestly ... Simple as that. Click To Tweet

Nicole: Ahh, we do love our happy endings! But it is somewhat off-putting when it feels like an emotion or action a character takes is forced or unnatural. Good advice!

6. What would you say is the most challenging thing about editing romance books?

Separating my feelings for the story from my feelings for the writing. Sometimes I get so drawn into a good romance (especially since it’s my favorite genre to read) that I find it difficult to look at it critically from the writing side of it. Sure, the characters and plot can be wonderful, but the writing is what gives your book life. That has to be perfect. In times like these, I step back, switch to editing one of my other clients’ books, and get back into it once my mind is back on track.

I get so drawn into a good romance ... Click To Tweet

7. Do you have any romance authors or books who have had an impact on you or influenced you in some way? If so, who?

kristan higgins

Kristan Higgins. She was the first romance author whose books I picked up that made me not just swoon, but also laugh, cry and squeal. The perfect combo, if you will. I think if I hadn’t picked up a book of hers when I was a teenager, I might never have forayed into writing romance myself. I might have stuck to writing fantasy like I did when I was a kid, thanks to my love for Harry Potter. There’s still room for fantasy in my heart, and maybe someday I’ll get into it, but it’s really not where I belong.

8. Is there anything about the editing life that you think is misunderstood by the public?

We aren’t just there to do a ‘spell check’, people! Agh. I can’t tell you how infuriating it is when people suggest authors just use Grammarly to fix their writing. That’s not how it works. You need human perspective, or a human touch. You need someone who knows what works and what doesn’t when it comes to writing romance. You need someone who won’t just fix your grammar but will help improve your writing, as well. And that’s where an editor comes in.

Nicole: I have to agree. I’ve used Grammarly, and I can vouch that it should not be the only means an author uses to edit. Not if they really want their work at its highest quality.

You need a human perspective, or a human touch. Click To Tweet

9. Recently, the written media has brought to the forefront the lack of diversity in Romance novels, both character-wise and the authors who write them. As someone who resides outside the US, is this something you’ve seen or noticed? What are your thoughts on giving POC (people of color) more limelight in the romance scene?

Oh, yeah. I hardly ever find US/UK books featuring Indians (my ethnicity) or even Asians, in general. I’m not too fond of the romance genre in Indian writing because it’s far too dramatic and Bollywood-like for my taste, so it is a little disappointing when I can’t relate to any characters in the books I do read. Authors, while I agree you should write what you know, there’s no harm in doing research, stepping out of your comfort zone and maybe writing a POC protagonist. More limelight? Absolutely! I have noticed, however, that a growing number of POC romance authors are getting more and more recognition, and that’s incredible! I hope this keeps going.

It is a little disappointing when I can't relate to any characters in the books I do read. Click To Tweet

Nicole: So do I. I think it’s been a long time coming and look forward to seeing how things go from here in this particular arena.

10. Also pertaining to diversity in Romance Novels, what are some books you’ve read, either by authors of diverse backgrounds, or with characters of diverse backgrounds, that you could recommend to readers?

When Dimple Met RishiSandhya Menon is an Indian-American YA romance author. I’ve read two of her books, When Dimple Met Rishi and From Twinkle, With Love (read an eARC of this one), both featuring POC (Indian) female protagonists in an American setting. Beautiful romances! If you love heartwarming YA romance, you have to read her books.

Nicole: Thank you! We’ll definitely have to check those out. 

What a fun interview! We really enjoyed our talk with Swati and appreciate her taking the time to talk with us to bring you guys some fun and relevant content in the Romance Genre world. If you want to know more about Swati, her work, or follow what she’s doing next, check her out at the links below. Leave your comments below on what you thought!

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