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Amber Gilliland, Senior Reporter
The name Bronwyn Scott may not ring any bells in the minds of students, but anyone who’s taken a class by professor Nikki Poppen-Eagan has met her. This is because Poppen-Eagan has been publishing romance novels under this pen name for eight years.
Poppen-Eagan enjoyed creative writing in school, but never pursued it until her son was born. Her husband suggested it as a quiet activity for her to do while her son was sleeping.
“I play the piano, but it’s really hard to keep up on piano playing when you have little babies in the house because they’re always asleep and it’s noisy,” Poppen-Eagan said. “My husband said, ‘well why don’t you do something with your writing?’”
Sixteen years and 42 published novels later, Poppen-Eagan has done something with her writing.
She began publishing romance novels with Avalon Books and switched in 2008 to Harlequin, the largest publisher internationally of romance novels, Poppen-Eagan said.
Switching her novels to Harlequin required her to give up some aspects of creative control. The publisher chooses her book title, cover and made her choose a pen name to publish under.
“They told me I needed to change my name because Nikki isn’t a sexy name,” Poppen-Eagan said. “So I came up with Bronwyn Scott because Scott is my husband’s name and Bronwyn is my daughter’s name. I had her two days before I signed my first contract with Avalon so she was kind of my lucky charm.”
Giving up some control to her publisher doesn’t bother her much, Poppen-Eagan said.
“Some people really get hung up on it and I don’t care,” she said. “I want books to sell, so why wouldn’t I want to do everything possible to make that happen?”
The pursuit of a happy ending is what keeps Poppen-Eagan writing romance novels.
“I just hate all these books about missing children, medical drama, sick and dying parents, runaways and people with baggage,” she said. “Those are real problems and things we get to cope and manage every day so when I sit down and read, I don’t want any of that in my literature. So I think that explains why I don’t want to write that either.”
History is also a love of Poppen-Eagan’s. She’s one credit away from having a degree in history but her college wouldn’t allow her to double major. Including history knowledge in her novels is something she enjoys. Her books tend to be written in the time period of the early 1800s.
“It’s fun to poke around in time periods that people don’t really know very much about,” Poppen-Eagan said. “I like to sort of drip feed just a little piece of history.”
Women’s empowerment is also a theme in most of Poppen-Eagan’s novels.
“I like to write stories about women that say, ‘I’m gonna be me and if that doesn’t fit the mold, then it doesn’t fit the mold,’” Poppen-Eagan said.
This type of heroine story sells well in North America, but North American readers are less likely to read romance novels, she said. Audiences in Great Britain and Europe are a bigger sales market for romance novels, but prefer a character who finds a way to break the rules in a more traditional setting. Poppen-Eagan has had to find a way to tailor her books to include these messages while still appealing to a wide audience.
It takes Poppen-Eagan about 10 weeks to finish a book, and she publishes four books a year for Harlequin. After she finishes revisions the book is sent off to the marketing department.
“I don’t see it for about 3 months and then they’ll send me a picture of the cover they picked out, poppen-Eagan said. “They’ll send me a picture of the title and then about 3 months later they’ll send me a final read through and then it’s out. So it’s about 10 months from start to finish.”
Besides being a professor and writer, Poppen-Eagan is also a wife and mother of three. Finding the time for her writing can be a challenge at times. She wakes up between 4 and 5 a.m. to get some writing done and communicate with her publisher in London before her kids wake up for school. The majority of her writing gets done on weekends.
“I don’t really have a weekend,” Poppen-Eagan said.
Poppen-Eagan said she’s not sure what the future holds for Bronwyn Scott and her novels.
“I think it’ll be just more of the same. I think we have to wait and see where the market goes,” she said. [/responsivevoice]
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