The last few months have been a bit of a blur in regards to all the guest posts I’ve written for Dark Moon. It’s been fun looking at my novel and characters in different ways and answering a whole heap of questions about my process and where my ideas come from, but they are all a bit of a scramble in my mind. So, I was having a little look over some of them the other day and thought that some of them bore repeating. So I am going to share some of my favourites with you here. There will be a link to the original blog post if you’d like to go and look at the original blog post on the original blog site, but the main thrust of the blog will be below.
The first one was a blog I did for LoveCats Downunder. It isn’t really a blog about Dark Moon at all, but about my love of the romance genre and what it means to me and it was hugely cathartic to write. I hope you enjoy it too.
THE TIMES SHORT ROMANCE SAVED ME
I was writing a blog the other day about my love of paranormal and romantic suspense (the 2 genres I write in). It was titled ‘When Romance Isn’t Enough’ and was about my need for that third character in a romance book – the world building or the evil mastermind or killer who gets a look in. However, within that blog, I mentioned there were times when the romance alone was very much enough and it made me think there was a blog in that. So, here I am at the Lovecats where romance is front and centre.
You hear all the time the put-downs people have about romance books, most especially short romance in what has been traditionally known as the category variety – what all the lovely and talented ladies here on Lovecats write. They often say those books are filled with predictable tropes, you already know the ending – they’re going to end up together – and the fact they are centred on two people falling in love sets unrealistic ideals for women.
Those people are talking out of their you-know-whats. They fail to understand that the people who write, read and love those novels (people like me and you and the Lovecats) actually want those things. We want to know the hero and heroine are going to get together at the end – the suspense is in how the author will get them there when there’s so many obstacles in the way. In regards to the tropes, it’s said there are only 7 true story types, so how can you write anything but a trope if this is true? But even if it isn’t, we still want the tropes. They are comforting and fun and not predictable at all in the hands of a clever writer who can twist and bend them into a pretzel and then say to their characters, ‘Get out of that one! Ha!’
And the fact that the books are centred on two people falling in love is not setting unrealistic ideals for women. Women aren’t stupid. We know they are the fantastical end of reality. But we want that fantastical end for just a little while in amongst the chaos that is the modern woman’s life. Those romances, the tropes, the predictable endings, they all saved my sanity time and again throughout my life.
I first really started to get into reading category romance when I was in VCE. I like to read before going to bed – it’s part of my ‘go to sleep’ routine. When my eyes were practically popping out of my head from the study grind and I was feeling more stressed than VCE alone was culpable for (my VCE year was filled with personal stresses I won’t go into here suffice to say, it was amazing I even turned up at times and got through the year). My Nanna gave me some of her favourite Nora Roberts category novels and a bunch of others too, because she thought they’d be good to read at the end of a hard day when my mind was too busy for my usual diet of fantasy books. Boy, was she right.
I inhaled those books like they were lollies – a special candy made up of whizz fizz and popping candy put together with a dollop of strawberry chuppa-chups and chocolate on the side. They were bright and sparkly and always made me feel special and cheery at the end (but kind of sad, in a good way, because I didn’t want to leave those characters there.) Those books got me through some very hard times during that year.
They were the bright in the dark, and to this day, Nora Roberts is one of my favourite authors.
This trend continued throughout university when I was doing a double major in English and Drama and was reading great thick books from Chaucer, Thackery, Austen and Shakespeare through to Alice Munro and Margaret Attwood, not to mention plays like Hedder Gabler, The Caucasian Chalk Circle and Waiting for Godot – heavy stuff. I would put down the heavy at the end of the day and sink into the delights of a romance, full of its twisty-turny pretzel-shaped tropes and delight in the triumph of both author and characters when they finally got their happy ever after. I continued with this trend after I finished uni – whenever the stresses of life were getting to me, I picked up a new category and off I went; an instant sanity refresher!
Years later when I began to write after giving up the theatre world to have a family, I tried my hand at these ‘simple’ romances I loved, only to find that they are not so simple to write. I failed at writing them (had some great ideas, but I just couldn’t manage to keep that third character out of the room!) and had to wave my career as a famous category writer good-bye.
I turned instead to the other genres I love to read – paranormal and fantasy and romantic suspense – and have succeeded in starting to carve a little career for myself in these. But I tip my cap in awe to the authors who manage to wrestle their story into the pages of a category romance and manage to come up with an enticing, sparkly read with that ‘aahh’ feeling at the end. You ladies saved my sanity (you’re still doing it) and I thank you from the bottom of my filled-with-romance heart.