Romance by more than the book

By Robin Intemann

An innocent online request for friendship in 1993 unexpectedly led to romance, marriage and a slew of bestselling books for Kathy and Bob Wernly.

“Neither one of us was interested in a relationship,” explained Kathy. “He was just relocating to Denver (From San Francisco) and wanted someone to show him around. I was glad to do it.”

At the time, Bob was working for Southern Pacific Railroad and Kathy was leading tours around Coors Field for the Colorado Rockies. She also kept busy writing romance novels.

“Back then there weren’t photos to post, but we talked a lot on the phone,” she said.

“But not until after she gave me all the numbers,” Bob interjected. “She only gave me nine numbers and I didn’t know which one was missing.”

Despite the near-miss, the couple met, became best friends and has been happily married for 26 years. “It was totally a soul-mate thing,” Kathy said. “He’s my best friend.”

The pair lived in Denver, moved to Pennsylvania where she obtained degrees in mass communications and fine arts before moving to Austin. They moved to Colorado Springs in 2015.

Before they met, Kathy wrote  books for Harlequin Romance and had written several screen plays. “After we were married Bob said he’s like to help write the screen plays. That evolved into him contributing to the books,” she said. They’ve written a young adult series about time travel, classic romances they describe on their website as “like a Hallmark movie”, romantic suspense and several nonfiction books.

Bob does the research and puts together the first draft. Then Kathy adds the color, the details and the emotions to flesh out the story. Their technique seems to work. They’ve won numerous accolades including several awards from Best Indie Books, Romance Writers of America, recognition from USA Today, Amazon and national film festivals. They also are recognized as The New York Times Bestseller.

The Wernlys write under pen names. Yes, multiple noms de plume based on the content of the books, such as Bob Kat or other variations of Kathy’s name.

The first time Bob mentioned wanting help, Kathy was surprised. “I had a five-book contract one year and he said maybe he could do a first draft,” she said. “Darn if he didn’t come up with one. He gave me structure to go on; it pulled me along while I fleshed it out.”

Bob said he enjoys working on the screenplays because they’re shorter. “You figure for a 2-hour movie, a 120-page screenplay, so a minute a page.”

Kathy added, “Screenplays are fun because they’re tighter. They make our writing better since everything has to come across in the dialogue. It has to be true and honest or it doesn’t work.”

They agree that their young adult series, which involves time travel, is something they also enjoy. “We’re teaching kids history without them knowing they’re learning history,” Kathy said.

“We had to come up with a way for the characters to travel through time,” Bob said. “Thomas Edison had a telephone to the dead we learned about at the Edison Museum in Fort Myers, Florida. We thought, what if this is what the characters use?”

Bob’s background is in engineering and he claims not to be creative, Kathy is quick to dispute this. However, she doesn’t limit herself to creating stories. Kathy sculpts, paints and does stained glass work. Even in these endeavors Bob is never far from the scene. When it comes to sculpting, he helps with the molds and casting. The pair started sculpting cold-cast busts of pets that can be used as urns.

While it would seem there are not enough hours in a day to accomplish all they do, the Wernlys also have two distribution routes for Life After 50.

“We’ve been doing it for two years,” Bob said. “It’s just a way for us to get out.”

Kathy added, “We do everything together. We don’t get tired of each other and while we might disagree we don’t argue or fight. We’re best friends. We’re lucky to have each other.”

They both seem to enjoy telling people they met online in 1993 back before swiping left or right was the norm in selecting (or rejecting) a potential partner. “Things move a lot faster today on the internet,” Kathy said. It seems for the Wernlys everything has moved at exactly the right pace.

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