Yes, I know this site is sadly, horribly, embarrassingly out of date. This is because Shiny New Site is almost ready to launch so updating here means duplicating the database over there and, well, the answer is just to get the new site live already.
Something Wild is out in print from Ellora’s Cave with a gorgeous cover, and other things are afoot.
Last Thursday I did a talk and reading at Eagle Harbor Books spearheaded by the fabulous Serena Bell and Rachel Grant. Harlequin generously donated many books to help win new readers to romance, as the bookstore is interesting in enlarging the romance section and encouraging romance readership. So readers came away with books by new authors to try out as well as signed books by the participating authors (us) and here is what I said about romance and why I write it.
Romance is a sub genre of fantasy and the fantasy of romance is the happy ending. “They all lived happily ever after” is how every fairy tale ends and romance novels are modern day fairy tales where the protagonists get what they want and a happy ending. Romance is the only genre that delivers the fantasy of the happy ending consistently and it gets a lot of criticism for being unrealistic because of it. But being able to imagine that a happy ending is possible is the first step to creating and writing your own. Whether that means a happy ending to the career change you want to make or the new friendships you want to build or building a successful romantic relationship, it starts with the hope, the ability to imagine and to believe that what you want is possible.
So romance is the fiction of hope. It’s also a genre of fiction that focuses on relationships. Not just romantic and physical relationships but the full spectrum of relationships. Family relationships, coworker relationships, friendships. The relationships in our lives are part of what helps us succeed in life, what helps us through difficult times, and have a huge impact on our happiness and health. The best relationships bring out the best in us and help us be more of who we truly are. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, love makes us real. The worst relationships make us less of who we really are, and in romance, those characters will turn out to be the villains. That person who wants you to feel less so they can feel like they’re more is not really your friend or your romantic partner, and you see that play out in a romance novel.
Fiction is where we can imagine how this choice or that action would lead to that result and it’s a safe place to vicariously experience what it would be like to choose what the protagonist chooses. Reading fiction helps us build empathy, which is one of the keys to any successful relationship in real life, and this is one of the ways it does that, by placing ourselves in our imagination in another person’s shoes and seeing the world from their point of view. Learning to have more empathy is not at all unrealistic, it’s a scientifically documented side effect of novel reading, ANY novel reading. And experiencing the fantasy of hope, imagining your own hopeful outcome, that’s also a scientifically sound premise. Top performers, athletes, imagine themselves performing at their peak and they have measurable changes take place while they’re imagining this. Imagination is powerful, it’s more than staring out a window daydreaming, it’s a tool that can improve athletic performance or help us practice asking for a raise. So the fiction that delivers the fantasy of happiness, of hope, is a tool that can help us write our own happy ending with very practical real world results.
This is why I believe in romance as a writer, that it’s something worth doing. And why I love it as a reader, why it’s the genre I’ll turn to when I’m having a bad day, and I need a dose of hope and the reminder that I’m the protagonist of my own story and it’s up to me to make the choices and take the actions that will write my happy ending.