Handling Romance with Alison Mercer

by Elisabeth Strasser @LPenkiller

This morning everybody interested in improving romance in their stories gathered in the cosy atmosphere of the Stone Barn with tea, cake and sweets at the North Cornwall Book Festival. Alison Mercer is well prepared with an outline of her workshop. I recognise The Hero’s Journey on her handout, which is a great tool for structure in storytelling derived from ancient myths.


In the introduction round it becomes clear that there is a good mix of participants with various backgrounds. Self-published authors sit next to traditionally published authors. Some are working on their first novel while others have sent in manuscripts and been rejected. Alison Mercer, the author of Stop the Clock and After I left You encourages everyone, saying “it happens to everybody.” It is important for every writer to have the ability to get through rejection and “soldier on”, comforting words to hear from a published author.

She starts off her workshop with “everybody loves a good love story”, but her favourite are those that turn out unexpectedly. In her workshop she wants to mercshow how other things can be drawn into the love story when writing romance. Of course, there was more on how you can make readers feel something and keep them hooked on your story but you’ll have to try and catch Alison at another book festival soon to find out more about that.

Participants came in with a hunger for more after Alison’s great talk yesterday, and they got exactly what they needed. I asked what they had enjoyed most about the workshop. “Alison is very flexible, she is a good listener as well as engaging.” They also really enjoyed the friendly atmosphere – and the chocolates!

Many thanks to Alison Mercer for her talk and wonderful workshop and for accommodating our interview questions at what has seemed like very regular intervals over this weekend – it has been a real treat to meet you!