So it was my husband who asked me this recently: “Why do you want to write romance?”
It actually surprised me, considering we’re in our second decade of sharing a rather wonderful life together. He of all people should know how much I love a good romantic story, particularly one that involves some level of fantasy or magic. After a bit more discussion on the topic, he expanded on this by adding, “I mean, why don’t you just write fantasy or other genres you enjoy, without all of the love.. and stuff?”
My answer to him was simple: Romance novels were the first books that made a major impact on my life.
Like many, I began reading romance as a young adult and I still love reading romance now as a happily married middle-aged woman. If I had to put a number on how many romance novels I have read, I couldn’t give it to you because by age eighteen I was just grabbing them by armfuls at my local library on a weekly basis, often not even paying attention to the titles and authors. Though I understand romance novels aren’t for everyone, they have always been everything for me. Let me explain a bit further.
As a young adult, my life was utter chaos. Like many, I lived in a highly dysfunctional household with parents who certainly did not have a relationship which could ever be classified as anything close to romantic. I’ll spare you the ugly details, all you need to do is imagine the very worst and I would say you aren’t far off. When I discovered romance novels, they were actually shocking to me at first. The idea that two people could even achieve such passion, care and affection for one another was both captivating and baffling for me. After that first book, I began devouring as many romance novels as I could and somehow, over the course of many years, they firmly drilled something into my psyche that nothing else ever had: Love and passion are possible.
You see, this was no small realization for me. It was life-changing. It wasn’t until many years later I realized just how incredibly pivotal the discovery of romance novels was for me as a young woman. As I grew older, I began to see how many (young girls especially) with parents and households similar to mine often ended up in harmful, unhealthy relationships themselves. For me, I had a different reference point firmly implanted in my brain. I owe this all to the discovery of tale after tale of characters that, despite struggles and differences, always ended up happily ever after. The many characters I fell in love with had made me dream of what was possible from a partner, from myself and from relationships in general.
To this day I believe that it was my discovery of romance novels that actually helped me eventually find my own prince charming, just like all the heroines of my favorite books. My life story ended up, in my mind at least, like a slightly less adventurous version of Romancing the Stone and for that, I am eternally grateful. I truly believe this would never have been my reality had it not been for reading and imagining what else was possible in the ways of love and romance.