Here’s a question that every author who writes romantic stories will absofreakinglutely get from family, from friends, from interviewers, even from strangers: Why do you write romances?
Here’s my short answer: because I love reading romances.
Of course I’m aware a few of the self-proclaimed literati recently decided to look down their noses and sniff as they regale their readers of lurid bodice-rippers (really? was the book you read from 1970s or 80s?) and impossible plots that those oh-so-silly women love (again, really? the plot of The Goldfinch was a bit out there yet was a fantastic story that won a Pulitzer).
Are those lords of literature being purposefully inflammatory to get clicks and therefore exposure? Probably.
But still…bite me. Er, what I mean is I’d like those people to pick up and actually read a romance written in the last 10, even 15 years. Well, my first impulse is a tad more visceral (like STFU or GTFO) but I end in the same place which is urging them to READ A ROMANCE.
I’m damn proud to be a romance writer and reader. Hell, I’m a card-carrying member of the RWA. (Romance Writers of America).
There’s a reason that the genre is so successful. There is something for every taste. My God, what other genre features heroines that are shapeshifters, vampires, and duchesses alongside single moms, doctors, and unemployed administrative assistants?
There are contemporary romances, erotic, historical, inspirational, paranormal, suspense, action-adventure. Heat levels from sweet red peppers (like Christian romances) to ghost pepper fire (BDSM stories, duh). There are the quick-read category novels and the 800 plus pages epics like Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Acheron (which was amazing, btw). Romances are smart, witty, poignant, sad, sexy, funny, touching, dramatic, dreamy, I can go on and on.
The thread that binds them all is the ending; Happy Ever After or at the very least Happy For Now. I think this is why the literati get their panties in a twist.
It’s a bad argument and here’s why. In thrillers the bad guy gets caught. But how? Read it and find out. In mysteries, said puzzle is solved. But how? Read it and find out. In romances, the characters fall in love. But how? Yes, say it with me, read it and find out.
It’s the story that sucks us in; the struggles each character endures, growing as human beings, realizing what they are or can be, succeeding or failing, falling in love. Today’s romances feature strong yet flawed heroines and nuanced heroes who grapple mightily with decisions, both emotional and plot-driven. Romances routinely deal with weighty, difficult subjects like PTSD, depression, insecurity, trauma, and death.
When it’s done well, and it often is, readers learn something and feel something as human beings. Love stories are that powerful.
In my favorite books when I close the cover, I smile; a bit sad it’s over and also completely satisfied. That’s the homerun. That’s the payoff in romances. A good story moves us. That’s what I try to do with the characters and stories I write – let the reader connect so well with the book, feel what the characters feel, want what the characters want, that she (or he) smiles when she closes the book.
There is no greater pleasure than that.