Comas and Kidnappings and Orphans. Oh My.

In the recent discussion we could call Procreation In Death, readers tossed out a lot of ideas about plot direction, story additions, plot devices. It’s gratifying to know books and characters I created resonate with readers and have them thinking of what ifs and what’s next.

Characters, like Eve and Roarke and the gang, or like Lila and Ash in my most recent book, The Collector, become a major part of my life. It’s incredibly satisfying when they become a part of a reader’s life.

Now here’s the thing. It’s sort of a big, sweeping thing. There are many, many readers with many, many opinions, feelings, hopes, ideas. As we can see, just as one example from the previous discussion, some readers are as opposed to a Baby Roarke as I am at this time. Others long for one.

So who do I listen to? I listen to the characters–and myself. If I listened to the readers I’d go slowly mad as it’s impossible to please all as one readers says this, another says that. Often with equal passion.

A writer can’t write, not well, not truly, with a reader standing over her shoulder. If only because there’s a second reader over her other shoulder saying the exact opposite. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Neither, because books are subjective and personal, and readers are entitled to take exactly what they want out of a book.

But the writer’s the only one who puts the words, the characters, the feelings, the actions, reactions on the page for those readers to take away.

Here’s the even bigger, more sweeping thing.

I’m never–let me repeat–never, ever, ever going to take a reader’s idea and run with it. Not no way, not no how. If it doesn’t come from me, I’m not going to write it, I’m not going to be compelled to follow that path and see where it leads. It’s not mine.

Over the years I’ve had countless suggestions from readers on storylines, character types, and in the case of the In Death books, countless suggestions for direction and plotlines. Comas, kidnappings and babies seem to be the most popular. (Though puppies were off and running this time out.) You’re not going to see Eve or Roarke in an extended coma so Peabody and McNab can run the show. It’s not the Peabody and McNab show. If Roarke got himself kidnapped, he’d lose considerable of his edge. I can spend the next twenty minutes writing out other reasons why these devices won’t work, but above all you’re never going to see these devices because they’re not mine. It’s not how I see the books or characters.

And over the years I sincerely can’t count the times someone has come up to me, or written me hoping I’ll take this wonderful idea for a book, write it, then split the royalties with them. Or maybe I could just edit this book they’re writing and they’ll cut me in on what’s bound to be a major best seller. Or–a personal fave–they want me to write their life story because it’s so fricking fascinating.

To all of these I say, PLEASE, write your own book. I think it’s pretty clear I can come up with my own ideas, so thanks but no thanks for the offer of yours and half the royalties.

And to those who pine for me to write their autobiography, I say here, as kindly as possible, everyone’s life is, or should be, fascinating to them. It’s probably not going to be fascinating to most everybody else. And it’s not my story. I’m never–repeat–never, ever going to write it.

Ideas, honestly, are the easy part of this job. It’s the execution of the idea that frustrates, fascinates and drains the blood from your body. Ideas? I’ve got a million of them. Some of them will never make it to the page because they’re not especially good ideas. Nearly all of them seem like the wrong idea at various points during the writing process when it feels like nothing’s going the way you’d hoped it would or thought it would. But that’s the process.

So don’t look for comas and kidnappings In Death, don’t look for your life story on the New York Times Bestseller list with my name after it, don’t look for your phantom vampire and the international assassin who loves him or your struggling single mother finding love and adventure with the incognito prince as they thwart a terrorist attack on Cleveland.

Hmmm….maybe make her a blogger, and he’s undercover CIA, and….No.

So the big (and simple) and sweeping thing is this: If I didn’t think of it, I’m not going to write it.

I hope you’ll continue to enjoy what I do think of, and where I take you.

129 thoughts on “Comas and Kidnappings and Orphans. Oh My.”

  1. BRAVO! Your imagination, ideas and skill haven’t let me down in all these years, so I’m quite content to let you lead this journey!

    1. I agree. My imagination can NOT compete. It wouldn’t be visiting friends if I had to come up with how they behave. I enjoy your characters because it’s a journey following their personal development.

    2. AMEN! While I love the characters of Eve and Roarke, no one could possibly love and understand them as well as their creator. I am content to enjoy their story as it unfolds and look forward to each book to see what they’ve been up to since the last book.

    3. Readers can be demanding – it’s a shame Nora has to even post such a statement. I say good for Nora though – readers are not entitled to be collaborators.

      1. I completely agree with you Nora. I can’t imagine how many people try to get you to do these things. You have to be true to yourself to succeed.

    4. Thank you, and well said. I love all of your books because they’re YOUR IDEAS! And also the time you had to take to express this was time away from you writing another book. As I see it, this was clearly 100 pages that could have been!

      Ann White

    5. I bought The Collector and absolutely loved the development is the story. I appreciate the characters being more than one dimensional. The highest praise, though , is when my sister started reading it and laughed out loud. When an author can write in a way that takes the reader unaware and causes one to laugh aloud, it is truly great writing.

    6. The first book i ever read, for pleasure, was born in fire. from there i read every single thing you’ve ever written. My husband was so sick of looking at the stacks of books laying around he bought me an ereader, which lead me to buying all your books a second time. I will never complain about a story you write because your imagination is what started my love of reading. I honestly cannot believe people would think you need their ideas to keep a series alive. Im along for the ride, whether its a baby, death,coma, or a captaincy that takes EVE out of the field.

      1. Ha! Let’s hear it for e-readers and buying Nora’s books a second time — and reading them again for the 12th time!

        1. That is SO me! I have lost count now how many times I have re-read the complete ID series including the short stories. I simply have to get my fix of my favourite characters. I love these books and the way Nora has fleshed out the different people in this series makes me feel like I’m visiting with old friends when I read these books over and over again. I say, keep those stories coming!

      2. I love all of Nora’s books. I got a kindle keyboard for Christmas 3 years ago and I have been rebuying all of Nora’s books on my kindle, which is an ongoing thing. I hope she keeps using her own ideas, because they seem to be working for her. Thank you so much Nora.

  2. Thank you for that, I had to laugh at some of it because I get frustrated reading the comments from people who’s opinion differs from me, just as I’m sure they get frustrated reading my point of view. You spelled it out very well for us, I’m glad to read it. I enjoy reading your books because they are not predictable, they are sometimes easier to figure out, sometimes you throw things in that knock me for a loop and I never see coming. That’s why I keep coming back. I do laugh at the ideas they send you in the comments, I’m just glad you set the record straight.

  3. This works for me. You keep doing what you do. And so well I might add. And I’ll do what I do. Which is love everything you do!!!
    Nancy 😉

  4. Mrs. Roberts,
    I so agree with you. Stay true to yourself. If you should take others ideas it would change the whole complexity of your writing. It is your unique life experiences and thoughts that create the characters that I have come to know and love, especially Roarke and Eve. I always anticipate the next book because I never know where you are going to take me. So thank your for the great reads and keep on writing.

  5. No arguments here! I love every single book so much and am currently rereading them while I wait for Festive. I love Eve and Roarke and the direction you’ve taken with them. Can’t wait to see what’s next!!

  6. Nora, you are not “public property” and it makes me mad that some people treat you as such. Most of us who are true fans love your inventiveness, character development, witty conversations, plot lines, romance, and intrigue – and gladly leave these things to you, with full enjoyment of the outcomes.

  7. Thank you Nora for writing just the way you do.. I absolutely love what you create, who you create. My first book was Montana Sky, my all time favorite so far is the Chesapeake trilogy (btw thank you from the bottom of my heart for Seth’s book!! lol) I read and re-read your books over and over, I love the world’s I slip into when I do and I just wanted to say thank you again.
    My grandmother introduced me to the In Death books, we lost her a few years ago, we were very close.. I miss her terribly, but I miss her a little less when I open up one of my old books and see her initials written in her handwriting in the corner and I can remember talking about the book with her… (She would also be against Baby Roarke with me!)
    Your books have brought so much to my life, always when I needed it most, that is a truly amazing gift you have 🙂 I never thought I’d be able to tell you how much your characters have become a part of me and helped me to grow and comforted me when I needed it most. Thank you for taking the time to write here. Best wishes to you and yours Nora 🙂

  8. Nora,
    As a writer I admire and agree with your somewhat simple explanation of your writing ‘rules’ as it where. Your ideas, yours story…end of discussion. As a reader I have been a fan for years and am ashamed to admit when I first met you at RWA National in Orlando I blurted out a character from your Garden Trilogy I felt needed their own story. Accept my apology! Back in my reader persona….I have had some small disagreements with editors. Not big plot or story issues, but usually issues I’ve had to dig in and explain that were necessary to carry a point. I’m happy to report in each instance – and there are only a few – I’ve been successful in maintaining what I fought to keep. There are numerous excellent points in Comas, Kidnappings and Orphans. Oh my. I plan to refer to them when I’m bombarded with ‘opinions’ and remain true to ideas originating within me as a writer.
    Thank you for all the wonderful stories and characters I’ve come to know and love.
    Nancy Kay

    1. I love the way you write an d wouldn’t want you to change a thing.

  9. Well said. I know I will keep my story ideas to myself in the future 😀

    Carry on with your great work,, Ms. Roberts. You consistently tell fabulous stories, and I’m looking forward to more wonderful books about Eve and Roarke!

  10. This made me laugh. I don’t write because I just don’t have that gift. I read because I love it. And I love all of your books. Thanks for being a fantastic author. I love Eve and Roarke. Their relationship is amazing and I can’t wait to read more.

  11. Well put! You are one of the best writers currently being published. As such, we dedicated readers want to read YOUR stories, not your audiences’.

    Thanks for all you do.

  12. Thank you, Nora, for laying this out so well. I don’t really know why I (or anyone else) would want you to write anything except what comes from your own imagination. Isn’t that why I/we love your books! Isn’t that why I/we re-read them over and over! Whenever I’ve finished one of your books, I’m always sad to see it end, but I know you’re working on others, and that makes me “fricking” happy!! So I’m more than pleased to let you take me wherever your mind and its wonderful imagination wants to go.

    Enough said, now, please, if you don’t mind me saying, get back to work!! :))
    Have a wonderful day!

  13. Your characters never disappoint nor the story lines. I’ve loved every book I’ve read and look forward to each one to come. I have a special place in my heart for Eve and Roarke and can’t wait for what comes next because whatever it is it will be just right.

  14. Point made! I’m sure it get’s annoying having people throw ideas out to you (and I’m sure you’ve heard some whoppers). So happy I found your books, can’t wait for the next one!

  15. I enjoy reading your books, especially the In Death. The only thing I wish would happen is when the book comes out in hardcover, why does it take so long to publish in paperback. I cannot afford the hardcovers, I wish they would come in paperback sooner so I can enjoy the sooner

    Have a nice day

    1. Hi Theresa,

      I know it’s hard to wait, but the In Death paperbacks come out six months after the hardcover — not the traditional year. Nora worked hard to get her publisher to agree to that timetable before the series went to hardcover first.


  16. I love your books and would never presume to create for you. Thanks for setting it straight for those who have not read your comments and posts in the past (on ADWOFF). I have loved the In Death books since their first publication and have read them countless times and enjoyed the characters more with each re-reading. So thank you, thank you for years of pleasurable reading where I always know it will be exciting, maybe death defying but with a happy ending.

  17. These characters are yours, you just let us readers look through the window now and then to see some of their lives! Thanks so much!

  18. Agreed! While I don’t want an Eve and Roarke baby (can’t people figure out that one doesn’t need a baby to feel complete?), I’m totally looking forward to the day I get to read about McNabb proposing to Peabody, whether it’s soon or in the distant future. If it isn’t on the agenda, well, I’m okay with that too. I just know it will be a very sad day when this series finally comes to an end. I thoroughly enjoy reading Nora / JD Robb and they are my go-to books for re-reading when I find myself needing something to do. Thank you for creating such characters that resound so much with your readers, in ALL of your books.

  19. I remember my Sunday School class asking if you’d write a Bible Study on love, and you said you wrote fiction only (adwoff Stooopid Questions) We batted around story lines we wanted to see on adwoff, but deep down inside we knew the next story would come only from you. If we saw them, they would come from you.

  20. It’s your name on the cover, so the book should be your ideas and your ideas only. I have every book you’ve written and have re-read them numerous times. I’m not the only one based on all the feedback so you are obviously doing something RIGHT 🙂

  21. No one can write a book as well as you. I have every in Death book you have written and I re-read them often. Whether you’re writing as Nora Roberts or J.D. Robb you are a Best Seller author because you’re the best….

  22. I love Eve and Roarke and all the gang just as they come out of your clever mind. Don’t change a thing.

  23. I understand where Nora is coming from but it was her Facebook page that asked us the readers for ideas and suggestions. So it’s pretty crazy that she is so adamant about not wanting to hear the ideas. Why ask the question in the first place? Obviously, it was to get a discussion going but that is a very strong response from her that she doesn’t want to hear it. I know she is a multi million dollar author but that response could have been given with more grace considering the question came from her team.

    I love her in depth books rereading all twice a year. I can’t get through any of her Nora Roberts books other than Chasing Fire because that personality we saw in that response comes through clearly in her other books.

    1. Larraine,

      The purpose of the original question about Eve and Roarke and free time was to start a conversation about how readers imagined them spending off-page time. Not a way to collect ideas.

      The set up for that particular one was that Nora and I were on a trip and it was for fun only and how did people imagine Eve and Roarke having that same kind of time.


      1. You say it well. I like using my imagination to fill in the blanks of the stories. I’ve really enjoyed thinking about Eve and Roarke’s wedding. I didn’t require J.D. to describe Roarke when he saw Eve on their wedding day because I knew. Keep up the good writing, J.D./Nora, and thanks, Laura, for the support you provide her.

    2. I’m sorry you thought my response lacked grace. I tried to be both courteous and clear. And being a multi-million dollar author has nothing to do with courtesy or grace.

      If you read Laura explanation of the original question above, you’ll understand it had nothing whatsoever with generating story ideas or plot direction. It was just a fun question about what the characters might do on a completely murder free weekend.

  24. You are right! You are such a talented writer that you don’t need any outside ideas. My only thought is, just don’t be too upset with your readers. As someone who enjoys you work, it’s easy to fantasize about alterative themes. I’ve been driving an 18 wheeler for over 30 years and your -in death series has given me hours of enjoyment and has helped me stay awake those hours behind the wheel. From the comment I gather most of your readers are women, as a man & a bit of a romantic, keep doing what your doing and I’ll keep reading/listening to your work. THANK YOU!

    1. Thanks, Bill. I’m not upset at all. It’s fascinating (and sometimes frustrating) to me how some readers envision my characters behaving–and how other readers absolutely disagree with them. That’s what makes books such a personal experience.

      1. I’ve often thought that I would LOVE to see the In Death series (or some of them) made into a movie, but then change my mind, knowing that there isn’t any actors out there who could match Nora’s magic and my imagination! But the Three Sister’s Trilogy would ROCK as a movie/mini series! Again, Nora you have been my literal savior during some difficult times health wise, in my life. You’re amazing ability to not only write books the way you do, but also to make them come alive for the reader, or at least me anyway, created a much needed escape from the harsh reality that wasn’t nearly as much fun as being inside your stories! Thank you for doing what you do, and PLEASE DON’T STOP WRITING! I’m better health wise, but still need the escape…and you’re one of the best authors I read that actually makes that possible. May you have a long and full life (that includes writing of course ;-}) and continue to use YOUR OWN obviously brilliant ideas for the books you write. Part of the enjoyment of books that are well written is that the reader continues to think or wonder about the characters, that DOES NOT mean that the author has or needs to use them. They are not her idea’s so they wouldn’t have the magic every one of her books have, because that’s why they’re magical, her hard work, energy and excitement to write the story! …but that’s just my opinion and 2 cents on the subject.

  25. Nora, as a prolific author, it’s apparent you get inspiration and ideas on your own. Your creative mind and awesome ability to put those ideas into words have moved me from a range of emotions. Eve has made me laugh out loud, and my sister and I share our favorite passages that make us laugh. I’ve shed tears over some of your characters whether you are writing as JD or Nora. Many of your criminals have given me nightmares. Roarke, of course, is every woman’s fantasy. How on earth can anyone think you would want or need ideas when your own are why your are so successful? I love your books, am glad you write animals into your stories so well and am grateful for your talent. Thanks for taking the time to read the comments, but I’m more than happy to read the stories you create. Can’t wait to see what comes next!

    1. In response to the person who said some of NR’s villains give her nightmares, I was thinking the same this week (while reading The Collector later at night than I should). I already have really weird dreams, why do I want to add scary to the mix? Yet I do. Also sometimes think I might hear someone in the house when I don’t. I kept thinking last night that I was going to finish but had to give it up at 11 pm. Too bad I have to work today. Would be finished by now.

  26. Well said! Thank you for listening to our ramblings and “friendly” suggestions. I think it is so wonderful that you even have this blog and want to stay in touch with us. I would have continue to read and love your books even if I hadn’t stumbled across this blog. Now this is just a bonus to see how other fans feel and I love when you comment and respond to our thoughts or share a little bit of your life with us. Thank you for giving us this time even though it must make you at least a little CRAZY! Please continue to write until your old and grey and no longer have the desire to type or pick up a pen. I pray that day never comes.

    1. Also a Big Thank You to Laura for always keeping us in the loop with what’s coming and for keeping this page going. We tend to forget to tell you thanks for all your time and effort.

  27. I adore all Nora’s books, maybe the ROBB books just a trifle more but I feel kind of bad that Nora had to speak so strongly in response to the “ideas” for future story direction. I wouldn’t have a chance in heck of coming up with more than one story, that’s all I’ve got. She knows these folks best and we just have to trust that her ideas continue to engage us so effectively. Don’t ever quit writing, dear.

  28. I personally would like to thank you for being the creative thoughtful author that you are. I for one thank you for the time and energy and hard work that you put into each story, for giving us something to look forward to. I thank you for sharing parts of yourself with us and letting us get to know you. I look forward to reading your books. I can only hope no one annoys you enough that you will decide to quit or retire. That would be a great loss!

  29. Way to go Nora! You have to be true to yourself and your characters. We can all take five minutes and wonder “what if?” but really we want to hear your story. Keep it up!

  30. I think what makes the In Death series so wildly popular is it’s a story that’s growing. A reader feels like they are part of those developing relationships and friendships in the J.D. Robb books. In Nora’s books there is some sense of that with the trilogies but you know there is a definite end to the story once the third book is released. Some of the stand alone books have such engaging characters that it is hard to accept knowing we won’t meet those folks again, so to speak. One of my very favorite things is to find the little surprises Nora sometimes sprinkles into her books where a previous character from an unrelated book or series is mentioned in passing. Darcy Gallagher in Seth’s book from the Chesapeake series for example. And Nora definitely shares her interests of fine art and antiques and shoes with her readers as those themes pop up in several of her books. She must have some amazing collections of her own! I say keep up the good work and thank you for the years of entertainment and here’s to many more!

  31. I would like to thank you very much for your books. I have been reading them for years. I only found Eve and Roarke about two years ago and still have many to read – I seem to get the same ones over and over again.
    I wouldn’t dare to tell you how to write your books, the only thing is I would dearly like you to ‘speed’ write, as I get the new Death book and within three days have finished it and have to wait round trying to imagine what they are going to get up to and what twists and turns there will be. Congratulations and may you write many more mysteries, and thank you for the hours of enjoyment I have had, especially as I have had some surgery and they went to hospital with me, from the local library.

  32. I would never PRESUME to tell you what to write, let alone asking you to write a particular story. I’ve loved everything that you’ve written since the day, well, I’ll just say for a long, long, long time, (okay, since I was 12!) and remain in Awe at how each of your stories, your heroines, your heroes, are so very different and the best part? I feel like they’re not characters, but REAL people and you always manage to suck me in and I have pull myself back and remind myself that they are fictional characters. Not sure what that says about me, though.

    And I appreciate that you are accessible to your fans and don’t condescend to them if they don’t like what character x did or acted. (I still remember calling Peabody a Nimrod and having a near heart attack because after I hit ‘post’ I realized that you would see what I wrote and was afraid that you’d come back and tell me then, maybe your books were “not for me” as other authors are wont to do. But you didn’t. Your response was funny, honest and let me know that I could be honest and to not be afraid to voice my opinions.

    If there is one criticism, it’s that you need better copy editors to catch the errors in continuity of a single hard cover or even in the In Deaths.

    I will forever be grateful to you for giving me Roarke.

  33. I agree with all the comments above. You have had enough success on your own to know what works and what doesn’t. And everything you’ve done so far has been phenomenal. My first book of yours read was “Three Fates” and it renewed my love of reading after many years of uninteresting storytelling by some of the best-selling authors. I cannot begin to tell you what an impact your work has made on me. Thanks for continually producing great stories and fantastic characters.

  34. As an avid JD and Nora reader I love your ideas and story lines. I, too love the sharing that you do with us (and thank you Laura for always keeping us updated). I find your ideas for stories fascinating and interesting and FROM you I often get intrigued with all the information/facts you give us in your stories. Keep up the GREAT work and I am perfectly happy with YOUR ideas and story lines.

  35. I look forward to you the Death series books so much and you NEVER disappoint. Keep doing what you have been doing, which is taking fictional characters and bringing them alive and in to our homes. Thank you.

  36. First off, thank you for your awesome work and attitude. I am not an author in any way, shape, or form. But I am a devoted reader and listener to your audiobooks! I may have ideas here and there and I’m so glad that you are willing to let us spill our ideas out here to you. But in no way do I think “Nora is going to read this and I’ll see it in the next in death book”. And if by chance I did see something like what I had in my head I know it’s because you thought of it months ago. 🙂
    I have complete faith in you to do your thing and you keep faith I me to keep reading and loving it!

  37. Dear Nora, I am amused at the comments stemming from your response to reader storyline suggestions….lacking grace……lol. You write about strong women and everyone likes that, so when you yourself show that strength and toughness you get criticized. I assume all the characters you create have a little bit of you in them, so why be shocked when you show “toughness”, very amusing.

    Thank you for being such a wonderful writer. I discovered you nearly 20 years ago. I needed a book to read on a flight from California to home. I had seen your name in the bookstore, but never picked one up until that day. Born in Fire was the choice that day. It’s still one of my favorites and has been reread many times.

    I had had a great vacation, but the best part was I discovered your wonderful stories. I got my mom, sister, aunts and cousin’s all hooked onto you after that. You have been a part of my life since then and I appreciate all the joy and happiness you have given me with your stories and talent.

    Thank you for being you! I look forward to many more years of reading your stories. Please don’t retire for a while!

    Have a wonderful summer with your family and grand kids!

    Sincerely, Annie

  38. I wish to thank you for the In Death series they are great books. I also wish you could speed write these books. I start with first and read every one each time a new one comes out. I am now re-reading them as they are a great read. Keep writing these books love each and every one of them.

  39. I am clapping my hands here. Well said and from the heart. I love a person who can be true to their self and stay on their path. I don,t feel the need to send my ideas as I don’t have any because what I read is too good and I am not disappointed enough with the stories to want any change. Furthermore I would never insult genius.

  40. I hated it when my Mother-in-law tried to tell me how to raise my boys. Your characters are yours and only you can ‘tell’ them where to go. I am just along for the ride and what a ride that has been and is being.

  41. We’ll, shoot! Guess this means my idea (Eve and Roarke visit Kansas, adore it – the blizzards, the tornadoes, the heat – and decide to stay, raise corn and become cattle ranchers because Eve decides she likes cows after all) will never see the light of day.

    I can live with that, gol.

    Poet Red Haircrow wrote: “Dance above the surface of the world. Let your thoughts lift you into creativity that is not hampered by opinion.”

    Keep dancing, my friend.

    learning to love Kansas

  42. Dear Nora,
    I have all of your books, right from the very first one. It would be almost impossible for me to choose a favourite. It’s your ability to draw us into the stories enough that we care about what happens to the people in them. In all of years I have been collecting your books, your ideas have never left me feeling
    disappointed, or wishing for a different storyline.

  43. Brava, Nora! The ideas, the work, the plotlines, the characters are yours and yours alone. And I agree that you and you alone are the engineer of each of their destinies. Thank you for sharing them with us though and thank you for the countless hours of enjoyment.

  44. Thank Nora for the great laugh! I saw the procreation in death comment and it was a Lol moment for me. When i buy your books, and i started with Irish THoueoubred, i want it to be your books and ideas not a group effort, so keep doing what you do so well: entertain us and we will try not to turn in the Kathy Bates caracter from Misery!

  45. Amen! I love everything you write and would never dream of suggesting where you should take your characters. The fun is in seeing where they go next and what they’re doing. You keep writing and we’ll keep reading!

  46. AMEN!! and yet, there are still those out there who will want to change your mind. You write, we’ll read and those of us who read will like it! So how much “easier” does instant access from/to/with fans make your life???? Yikes!! Waiting patiently, and rereading favourites for the next and the one after that… Happy Spring Nora! Hope you have some time to enjoy your garden.

  47. Well said! There would be no point in you taking on board ideas that are not your own because then the books wouldn’t be the works that we love – they’d be something other. By the way, ‘he’d lose considerable of his edge’ – considerable portion?

  48. Thank you for all of the wonderful books you wrote so far and I hope there will be many more! You are right to write only your ideas and the success shows that you are doing the right thing.

  49. Thank goodness Nora, can’t make it clearer than that. Will just wait for the next book with anticipation

  50. You go Girl!!! These are your Babies and you can do what you want. We love what you do. Keep it up.
    Can’t wait for the one.
    Thank you for all you do.

  51. Nora I love your books,if I didn’t I would not have over 200 of them I love your writing so I will never ask you to do anything you feel is not for you just keep putting out the books and I will buy each and every one of them thank you for all the good you do.

  52. You have what must be one of the world’s most fertile imaginations, so it is pretty laughable that anyone might think you need ideas. However, it is something of a compliment that readers care enough about the characters to weigh in.
    Just keep on writing and we’ll keep on reading.

  53. The only thing we request is that you don’t stop writing about Eve and Roarke. What would our life be without them? We anxiously wait for the next book and applaude your great work.

  54. I’m all for Nora’s ideas as she hasn’t led me astray as of yet. Every book of hers I read is a new adventure and just beckons you to come along. Continue with your fabulous ideas Nora because that’s the joy we get to be a part of and can go back to time and time again. 🙂

    1. thats a joke right? love nora but i havent read anything new in her books in a long while

      1. Fiona,

        I see a basic conflict in writing you “love an author but haven’t read read anything new in her books in a long while.” Why would you spend your free time reading books by an author about whom you feel that way? I’ve outgrown authors — regretfully — over time, but for me that meant a clean break, finding new books to read and new places to hang out.


        1. I have to agree with Laura. If you haven’t found anything new in my books in a long while, why are you still reading them? And why spend time on a blog of an author you’re no longer satisfied with?

          1. Because I found such magic in your books and I never want to lose hope that it will be there again. Not everything appeals, but when I read a synopsis that does, I will at least try it. I’m not ready to give up on an author that wrote countless favourite books of mine.

      2. I don’t understand how you could say you haven’t read anything new in her books in a long time. They’re always filled with new, fresh ideas. I used to love to read Danielle Steele’s books. However, after a while it was like she was just reusing them and changing names. So I stopped. If this is how you feel you should stop reading her books. Nora is an extremely talented woman and it takes a great imagination to write the stories she does. I’m just grateful she’s not an author who only publishes once a year. I’d go crazy waiting. Thank you Nora for hours of enjoyment. I go places in my head with your books I’ll never be able to go in real life.

  55. OMG – I’m still laughing at Procreation In Death! Too funny. Well said, Nora, and happy planting! My daffodils poked right through the snow to bloom, so I’m ready to get my hands dirty. Wishing you a great spring!

    Loved, loved The Collector!

  56. When I read your books, especially the In Death ones, it is like glimpsing a part of someone’s lives. The characters are so fully human that only they really know what and how they are going on about their life. Seeing them, especially Eve and Roarke, grow and learn who they are as people and where they fit in the world has given me many insights to my own situation. Seeing strength and beauty rise up out of ugliness is a story that we so rarely get to see that still has its humanity.

    I do think that some readers try to give you direction because they identify so deeply with your characters that they think it can help direct their own life.

    and just to say, I have read your books starting when I worked a mind numbing data entry job and someone gave me Sanctuary on tape to listen to. I did not really get the full story because I have hearing trouble but I heard enough of it that I went out and borrowed the book. Up until that time I mostly read horror. I enjoyed the book enough i bought it, and then many more. When I got involved in an ugly situation and was stuck in a foreign country, with no job, no real income and two kids to feed, the story of Roarke’s mom resonated with me. Sadly I ended up selling all of my books ( mostly yours which meant I got more money since the book store knew they would sell) in order to pay for food for the kids. almost 8 years has passed since then and I have built up my collection again. Because your stories remind me of being strong, doing what you need to and that even though sometimes evil triumphs, it is still worth the fight. so thanks. 😀

  57. Almost every time I see an author’s disclaimer about accepting suggestions or ideas, It’s something along the lines of Dana Carvey impersonating George Bush: “Not going to do it, wouldn’t be prudent.” Sometimes there’s a dash of lawyer thrown in.

    Now Nora has cut loose on the subject (Don’t be shy Mrs. Wilder, tell us what you really think.) and killed the thought of contributing to the bodyless weekend thread.

    But I still worry that an unfortunate event (or a wild hair) will deprive us of more stories. Please be good to yourself & stay healthy.

  58. I just want to remind you that suggestions were solicited not volunteered. If you don’t want anyone’s ideas. please tell Laura. Don’t feel the need to rag on readers. I will be sure to ignore future requests.

    1. Linda, suggestiions were not solicitied. The question on FB was a conversation starter asking what readers thought E&R would do with a murder-free weekend. In no way was that a suggestion for story and plot ideas, but an attempted springboard for posters to have some fun speculating about off-book time.

      I didn’t intend to ‘rag on’ readers with this blog, but to clearly and honestly explain why I don’t, and won’t use reader ideas in my work. I apologize for offending you.

  59. Looking at the number of my bookshelves that are filled with Nora Roberts or JD Robb novels, the one thing that is BLINDINGLY obvious, is that you have no trouble at all finding new ideas for plots and characters, Nora!!

  60. Ayup. Your ideas, your vision, your work. The only way it can be, and I greatly enjoy what you write.
    But I’d still like to read that Roarke is drinking some single malt Irish whiskey.

  61. The problem now is that all your characters sound exactly the same. I can’t tell them apart at all, not for the last 10 years. Everything before that is amazing though. Would just like to see more original personalities and stories/ideas.

    1. Poppy,

      To me, this just begs the question as to why you’d continue to read an author that you don’t enjoy. Readers can definitely grow out of an author — I’ve done it plenty myself. But then why hang out on a blog of an author who you haven’t enjoyed for a decade?


      1. I’ll add this to Laura’s response. As I said before, books are personal to the individual reader. While I don’t see–for example–Lila from The Collector as interchangable with Iona from The Cousins O’Dwyer (and I could list a whole bunch of other examples) an individual reader might. If this is the case for that reader, and has been for a decade, why continue to read an author who no longer satisfies you? There are so many books to choose from. I can’t write to your particular vision of personalities or ideas, so it may be my books just aren’t for you anymore.

  62. Personally, I can’t imagine Eve and Roarke with kids anymore than I can imagine Mavis as a nun at the Vatican.

    As always, I look forward to what your imagination puts on the page and am looking forward to the next installment of In Death!

  63. Thanks, Nora, for the incredibly straightforward comments on why you write what you write and why you will never write someone else’s vision. Having said that (here it comes LOL) I do sometimes wish more of your previous characters would return (as they have in the In Death series). Like how are the families on Three Sisters Island? How big has the McCade family grown? Has Maeve stayed friends with Maggie and Brianna and Shannon? Things like that? Remember, alll these people are our friends and we just like to keep in touch with them 🙂 But no matter what you write, it will be memorable. And Thank You!

    1. As a writer, I have to move on–and would only bring old characters into new work if I had a reason to. I’ve always thought readers (like me) keep in touch in their own imaginations. Creatively, I can’t really craft a good story about how previous characters are doing now.

      1. Well said Nora! It’s hard to please everyone, and writing is such a personal experience. The ideas and characters have to come from you or you don’t connect with them. An author who doesn’t know the character is like a composer who doesn’t know the music! D;

  64. I am a nurse…have been probably as long as you have been an author…and I wouldn’t appreciate you telling me how to do my job so why would I presume to tell you how to do yours? I love all your books, characters, storylines…thank you for them all. I am currently re-reading the Chesapeake Bay series for I would guess the 15th time…my absolute favorite series of all. As I read posts of others who say they read and re-read your stories, it makes me think what a true testament of love and appreciation. May I also say thanks for this blog and taking time to answer/respond. You have a wonderful gift. Thanks again and God bless.

  65. After reading the comments and complaints, I have to wonder why Nora and Laura even bother with us. I am glad there were many people who took time to say we appreciate the great work Nora does and are thankful for the blog. I can be fun to comment and to see other ideas, but it is sad that one little question could stir up so much trouble. In my mind at any given time I could come up with what E & R are up too. It is just fun to think of what they might do or what we might do in their place. My thoughts were they would go to the island and have a great time alone. I am sorry if any of us has offended Nora or Laura over this one little question. I hope you both know the majority of us enjoy this blog and the information shared on it. Sorry it has to be such a hassle for you both.

    1. Troy, thank you. Believe me, I’ve had some moments the past few days when I wondered why bother. Then I’d remember the vast majority of posters are fun, appreciative, understanding–and courteous even if they didn’t like a particular book. Why let the few who aren’t spoil it for everyone?

      For the most of the most part, I enjoy being able to share a bit here and there, and enjoy reading the comments. Some make me laugh (intentionally) some really touch me–readers who let me know they shared an affection of my books with their mom or a grandparent. Some comments are interesting, some are funny, some are just sweet.

      In the end, all that really outweighs the ones who come on to be rude or offensive simply because they can.

      So I’ll thank the vast majority of you who’ve posted the past couple weeks for proving that interaction between writers and readers can and should be fun and entertaining for all.

  66. As a writer with hopes and aspirations of being published one day, I am exceptionally jealous of the stories and characters that live in my head – and I pour my heart and soul into as I attempt to bring them to life. Frustrating as it sometimes is, I cannot imagine asking someone, even someone exceptionally talented and successful, to write it for me! I know I would hate the end product. In the end it wouldn’t, couldn’t possibly, be my story. And I know the frustration of having others (friends) try to advise, and basically reinvent my characters as they imagine they should be, or suggest what paths I should lead them down, that to me is alien to the characters as I see them. Sure, some ideas aren’t bad, and could be interesting. But it can never work, because it isn’t what I see and know, what I feel or mean to express. As you say, it isn’t mine. I can’t make it mine and make it work.
    When I open a book, I want to take a journey of discovery, to experience someone else’s vision. Not my own. I love your visions. You draw me in, make me laugh, make me cry… I, like the rest of your readers, am grateful for what you do, what you give us to enjoy and experience.

  67. Nora,
    I agree with you 100 percent! And I always have and always will enjoy your writing and where your characters take you to tell their stories. No comas, terrorists, etc. needed! Just your talent for bringing them to life and letting them live with each of us. I just recieved ‘The Collector’ so thank you in advance for my next book adventure!

  68. Wait – so does this mean you won’t write MY life story??? But it is so fascinating! Hahaha… In all seriousness, I am extremely grateful for each and every journey you have taken me on through your books. I write non-fiction and have a huge admiration for writers of fiction. I simply don’t have those stories in my head. Thanks for staying true to yourself, and letting us share the adventures of your fabulously creative mind.

  69. I’m an avid Nora Roberts reader and fan. Generally i am reading one book and listening to another in my car. I certainly respect and appreciate Nora’s inability to expand or develop a storyline that is not her own; but I’d think someone as skilled with words as she would be able to present that position with more tact. In fact, it could have been said as simply as I summed it up and left there. What I read, instead, was the equivalent of someone shaking a finger at and scolding people for having thoughts or ideas about characters that they connect with and want to see more of. Unfortunate.

    1. Perhaps if you read the comments over the last several days that prompted this blog post, you’d have a better sense of why I felt it was time to be clear and firm on this subject.

      I’m fine with readers having ideas. I’m not fine with those compelled to push them on me, or those who become annoyed and insistent when I don’t follow their vision.

      I can only say I’ve presented this position, over and over and over again with considerable tact. It hasn’t worked very well.

      1. I’m new reading this blog and have just came across the post on people trying to push their ideas on you. What nerve!!!
        I love the In Death books and want to thank you for sticking to your guns on no babies! Why do people want to ruin things. If they dont like it they can write their own characters and stories.

  70. Thank you Nora, for a blog post as well-written and entertaining as I have found each and every one of your books to be. You write your stories, your characters develop as they develop, your fertile mind travels fascinating paths – thank you for taking me along.

    And while I’m thinking about it, I’d like to take the opportunity to say how much I enjoy and admire your skill in writing dialogue. My poor husband has been awakened many a time in the middle of the night as I laugh aloud at some exchange between characters (especially with Eve.) Then since he’s awake I really must share the conversation with him. Our late night chats about your books are always interesting. 😉

    While I agree that readers can outgrow authors (I certainly have a time or two), I don’t see that happening any time soon between me and you.

  71. Thank you, Nora, for stating your opinion. Maybe I’m just used to your voice over the many years I’ve read your books and heard you speak about writing, but I saw nothing wrong with what you said – or how you said it. You were asserting your opinion – and maybe that’s the issue. You’re as strong as the female characters you write and that doesn’t always sit well with people.

    Thank you so much for all that you write! I like the comfort of knowing the layout of Eve and Roarke’s bedroom and that Summerset will snarl at Eve. Usually, though, I also have the pleasure of discovering at least one new room in their house.

    Your talent is amazing, especially considering how few individual plots there are for any writer. You make each book its own and a perfect way to escape real life for a while. I decided after the last In Death book that I would start at the beginning again. Every night, I reward myself with another few chapters.

    Thanks and keep doing what you do so well. You’re an inspiration!

  72. I’m new to this blog but not to Ms. Roberts or JD Robb books. My favorite series has been the MacGregors and my favorite characters have been Eve and Roark. I got to this blog based on the question of what Roark and Eve would do on vacation. I was first taken aback from Ms. Roberts post that started this conversation. I thought uh oh, someone has really ticked her off and understandably so. I’m glad to see I was mistaken. I’ve been reading the Nora books for the last year and fought hard not to get into the In Death books but failed terribly – Thank Goodness! I like holding the books in my hands and turning the pages as quickly as I can, hence no ereader. I’ve had to go to used book stores to get some of the older books and happy I’ve been able to find them. I find myself laughing and at times, crying out loud (as has some of your readers have stated) as I read and glad that no one is around to see or hear me. How embarrassing would that be? I’ve passed on numerous books to my niece (now 18 and first year of college) who is also now hooked. She recently told me she had discussed the Nora books with one of her professors who in turn told her about the JD Robb In Death series. She thought she had me on this one. When I told her I had them all but hadn’t given her any to read yet, her mouth fell open. She’ll start those when she is on summer break.. THANK YOU for the entertainment your books bring to me. Just keep doing what you’re doing!

  73. Sweet baby Jesus! A biography?! Ummm… No! Under NO circumstances! I’m going to say I’d pay money, big money, for someone NOT to write it!
    Procreation In Death — not gonna lie, I chuckled. I am constantly surprised by other readers because I often think I’m totally on the same page & realize that NOPE! I’m not! I wouldn’t particularly care to ask an author to write a storyline based on my ideas. Then I couldn’t be surprised! Where’s the fun in that?! I want to read what others thought about so that I can enjoy this completely new-to-me world!
    I’m a reader. I’m an awesome reader. I’ll just keep being one & leave the writing to, well, the writers 🙂

  74. I am and always have been an avid Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb fan. I have to say Nora that your In Death series have an will be my favorite. Conspiracy In Death is my all time favorite with Treachery a very close second. My favorite non ID books would be the Born trilogy, born in ice being the favorite of the three.

    I would like to share a personal perspective on why I love reading Nora’ s books. I have Lupus, and sometimes I’m so I’ll that all I can do is lay in bed, whether it’s home or the hospital.
    So…I have more time than most people do to read. Eve, Roarke and the gang have kept my spirits up, and have kept me company more times than I can count. As I am in my early sixties and often bedridden, I feel I am among long lost friends.
    My personal experiences with any of Nora’ s books are slanted toward the positive, I suppose, but they are a much welcomed lifeline to me. So to the naysayers, these books are more than just entertainment to some of us.
    I look forward to however many imaginative, heartwarming and delicious stories that she has banging around in that wonderful, creative head of yours Nora.

    Happy spring and happy gardening.

  75. I’ve always believed that writing is an art where the writer is self-inspired to create. When I examine my own list of favorite authors or stories, it seems clear that their creation was truly their own masterpiece. While it may be a fun exercise for readers/fans to speculate about storylines and character direction, I’d be extremely dissatisfied to learn that the author would use any of them. I rely on a writer to completely take me in and overwhelm me with their vision and point of view. Some do it really well and others may not be as successful but I enjoy the journey no matter what.

    Thanks, Nora, for being true to the art. I haven’t taken any of your responses as defensive or insensitive….just an artist explaining HER craft.

  76. I’m afraid I had a bit of a giggle reading this post as it’s so common to authors. I’m an aspiring author myself and I’ve spent 5 years ‘training’ in the public forum through hobby writing. So often when I post to a writing community, I get people telling me I’ve written my characters or plot ‘wrong’ and I ‘ought to have___’. I tell them they ought to go write their own story because their ideas are wonderful.

    Just wondering, what’s your opinion of fan fiction? You could send all your ‘advisors’ there. LOL!

  77. Well-said. If it didn’t come from you, it wouldn’t be YOU. Your stories. I agree that Roarke should not get kidnapped because, duh, that’s just not a scenario that fits him and I agree Eve and Roarke aren’t ready to be parents just yet. I’m glad you’re not listening to readers. I’m quite content reading the stories that come from your ideas. You have such beautiful writing, such a beautiful flow of words.
    Thank you for the amazing gift that your books have always been for me.
    Wish you the best.


  78. Well said! I don’t get why so many people are so strong in their desire to drive the story of Eve and Roarke. Quite frankly I’m perfectly happy to sit back and enjoy the ride. That’s what I’ve done since I discovered the series and I’ve never been disappointed.

  79. Nora, I’m from a small town in the former British colony of Sabah (North Borneo) now part of Malaysia. I have grown up with your books and have read them repeatedly (and now, since Amazon delivers, have all of them in my Kindle!) The characters you wrote about were so real to me it seemed like I had a magic window into a world so very far from my own tiny one. Thank you for making life so exciting and rich for a young girl with an active imagination, tucked away in a rustic corner of the globe. When I grew up and moved to the big city, I brought two items to my husband’s home: my little dog, and my collection of Nora Roberts/JD Robb books. My husband often jokes about his “package deal”! And knows when he doesn’t hear a peep from me for a while, that I’m probably revisiting Eve & Roarke in a corner somewhere!

    I guess this is just a long way of saying “Thank you.” You never know who your gift can touch, where your readers are from and how your books have made a difference. For every armchair critic out there who tells you your books have lost their magic, there will be dozens of earnest readers who know that while the stories may sometimes meander along paths outside their comfort zone, the magic can never be lost if it is the same author guiding them there.

    I’m a lawyer today. My work puts me on a plane every week. I have read all of your books dozens of times in planes and hotel rooms and 24 hour diners, and have never grown tired of them. Some authors you just never outgrow.

    Keep your spirits up and keep writing!



    You probably already know this but it’s good that you’ve made public the fact you would never ever use somebody else’s idea! (Legal risk management at work here.) Even better if the mail is screened and so you never get to read anything that sets out a reader idea 🙂 People are weird & some can surprise you in unpleasant ways.

  80. I was amazed recently when fans of the Harry Potter series got angry with J.K. Rowling when she made some statements about how she might have changed some relationships of the characters after looking back in hindsight. I believe it was something to do with rethinking Hermione and Ron’s relationship. Anyway, I was so surprised at the vitriol and nastiness that came her way after her statement. On the up side, it was nice to see that Ron has such a passionate and vocal fan base! It’s almost too bad he’s a fictional character, but as a huge fan of the series myself, I can relate. Perhaps if she had decided to make Hedwig a Tufted Puffin rather than the regal Snowy Owl she was, I would have felt a similar burning rage. I don’t know.

    But, I digress. My point is that apparently readers seem to feel that they have an ownership of characters or an entitlement that somehow supersedes the actual author’s. Clearly, Nora’s fans are not the only ones, as Ms. Rowling has the same issues. I think it is good Nora took a stand and cleared the air. These characters are beings birthed of her imagination. They live in a world that only exists because of her. Readers do not get to change, edit, or alter that. Well, I guess they can but there is an entire world for that sort of thing and it’s called “fan fiction”. Knock yourselves out.

    I personally happen to be a big fan of Ms. Roberts. I’ve read a lot of her work over the years but have taken a break for a time as I’m trying to write my own stuff and don’t wish to muddy my own waters, if that makes sense. In the meantime, as a completely unpaid writer as of now, I even find people advising ME on what to write. Who knew I would have something in common with Nora Roberts? I’m actually quite delirious about this now that I give it some thought! Anyway, my latest advice at this date was to pen a book about cats. I assume this was because I have two cats. I do love them. Perhaps I should think about a plot that would involve one of them being kidnapped…or perhaps one could be in a coma for awhile…hmm. Perhaps Nora will comment her opinion about this idea.

    Or maybe I’ll just keep working on my own stuff. With big love and respect to a great writer and a great inspiration, K

  81. If people ask you to write their “autobiography”, they should probably be advised to consult a dictionary, because they obviously haven’t a clue as to what the word means.

    1. I know, right? But I get asked pretty regularly to write someone’s autobiography.

  82. We know how Eve feels about hospitals… does anyone ever wonder how she feels about dentists?

  83. To my mind Nora Roberts/JD Robb is a member of a very select group. She is a Bard in the truest sense. I will cross genres and read things I would never normally read when a Bard writes them. Marion Zimmerman Bradley (RIP sweet lady) was a Bard. Mercedes Lackey and Patricia Briggs are also on my list of those who have the Bard’s Gift.

    A true Bard can start a story, pause and pass the cup and people will willingly pay to hear the next segment. And repeat as often as every chapter! A Bard can only be enjoyed when they are free to create as they please. I have often seen those who seem (to me at least) to have this gift state that the story comes to them. They don’t coldly plan/plot out the tale in advance with thoughts of how much this or that will sell for or how to pull in a certain audience. It grows from the soul and the imagination and is transferred into a Bard’s words.

  84. Hah! Perfect answer, Nora! I’d tell the person desiring you to write their biography to “…write it yourself. You lived it, I didn’t!”

  85. Just finished reading Obsession for the umpteenth time. Any thought of writing g a book about Mason?

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