Posted at Sep 27, 2016 6:00 am
“The categorical dismissal of the most-read genre in the world reveals ignorance, not intellectual superiority.” – Kristan Higgins (bestselling contemporary romance author)
Unlike a lot of romance authors, I didn’t grow up binge-reading romance novels. My mom was an English teacher and encouraged all of my reading- except “those books” weren’t allowed. I’m not sure if this was because of the sexy times or because a lot of teachers and professors labeled them with the condescending “bodice ripper” tag.
However, both of my grandmothers read romances and they let me sneak read them when I visited, so I got secret peeks into this magical genre of books. However, when I went to college I was taught that genre fiction wasn’t “real writing” so I dutifully wrote lots of meandering literary short stories and poems that only made sense to me. This isn’t to say I don’t read and enjoy literary fiction, because I do. But I love genre fiction.
For years I discounted my natural writing voice because I wanted to be a “serious literary writer.” Turns out, I’m a romance writer…which doesn’t mean I don’t take my books very seriously. I explore themes of love and friendship and connecting with that person who loves you for who you are. To me, those are tremendously important themes. And I love being a romance author and no longer worry about where I rank in the literary hierarchy.
Once I started reading romance novels as an adult and discovered what I call The Vast and Wondrous Playground, I was hooked. You can find anything in romance: action, mystery, comedy, suspense, paranormal…you name it. You’ll also find themes of courage, empowerment, honor, love, and equality – feminism with a capital F. I’ve found it’s only people who haven’t read romance novels who sneer and condescend. There’s nothing more satisfying than watching someone convert to the romance religion, especially those who used to disparage it. Suddenly they look around and say, “Wow. These books are great.”
In a culture that too often celebrates violence and war, stories that celebrate emotional connection, love, and friendship are often discounted, yet these are the stories many of us crave because they validate the better parts of ourselves. Plus, you’ll always find this in romance novels…
The best part of writing romance is the wonderful, unique connection between authors and readers. I had the opportunity to experience it first hand when I attended my first RT Booklovers Convention in April, 2016 in Las Vegas. Approximately 600 authors attended, and about 2000 readers and bloggers. It was a fantastic event full of parties, costume events, bookish games, and general squeeing. Plus, photo opps with cover models….
(YA author Jenna Lincoln, cover model Michael Foster, and me)
I love to write (and read) stories about relatable, realistic girls and the great guys who fall for them – guys who are sweet, funny, smart and honorable. Stories with strong female friendships full of honesty and humor, and stories with adults who are (usually) present and caring, but who also make mistakes.
My latest novel, The Replacement Crush, is my love letter to Romancelandia- those who read it, write it, and review it. I’ll never apologize for writing and reading romance, and I hope you don’t either!
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