Romance is a much maligned, often ridiculed genre, dismissed by both men and, sadly, many women. Denigrators claim we romance authors ‘churn out’ our ‘cookie cutter’ books according to a formula (so not true, by the way). Terms applied to romance novels include ‘fluff’, ‘junk’, and ‘trash’, as well as ‘bodice rippers’ and ‘mommy porn.’ A common response when I reveal I write romance is, “Ah, so you write dirty books,” accompanied by a smirk.
Not only is romance treated as the poor cousin of literature, it also happens to be the most difficult genre of all to write, at least, to write well. Why? Because romance is the single genre where readers always know how the book will end before so much as opening the cover—with a happy-ever-after ending. No exceptions. It’s a promise the genre makes to its readers. Therefore, to hold a reader’s interest, a romance novel must be extraordinary. Romance authors must write complex and fascinating characters who touch the reader’s emotions, and plots full of unexpected twists and turns, making it impossible to put the book down until that promised happy-ever-after ending.
Why then would anyone in her right mind choose to write romance?
My main reason is to give readers an escape from their problems.
In a world of growing uncertainty, we are constantly bombarded with news about disasters, tragedies, wars, murders, deaths, corruption, and anguish. At a personal level, everyone experiences private tragedies at one time or another, traumas such as abuse, the death of loved ones, illness, addiction, bankruptcy, and many, many more.
Some things are worth escaping from. Anguish is definitely one of them.
During my trouble-laden younger years, romance novels were my happy place, my blissful escape, my salvation from problems that seemed insurmountable.
I view romance as an antidote to despair. By creating a world of wonder, a world of falling in love, of unlimited possibilities, of overcoming impossible odds to live happily ever after, a romance novel offers hope and provides readers with emotional experiences that mirror certain fundamental desires in life. Who doesn’t want to find love? To overcome seemingly insurmountable problems? To become our best possible selves? To forgive ourselves and others?
Simply put, I write romance because I like to think my books help the reader forget her life and all its demands and problems, if only for a few hours.