We were on hour four of a deadly boring road trip to Michigan last weekend when my husband blurted, “what are you going to do when people criticize you for writing romance novels?”
At least that’s what I think he said. I only caught the last half because he started talking about five seconds after I had finally given into a boredom-induced coma.
Blinking the sleep out of my eyes, I replied, “Do?”
“Yeah. You know, you’re bound to get people making fun of you and stuff.”***
“Well, because some people look down on romance novels. They think anyone can write one.”
Now fully awake, I snorted. “Who the hell cares?”
“No. I don’t. Why should I?”
“Wow. Gee, we’re low on gas. Good thing there’s an exit coming up,” he said, wisely changing the subject very quickly.
But I’ve been thinking about what he said. A lot. And my answer still stands.
I don’t give a flying you-know-what what anyone says. I am proud of what I wrote. It’s a damn good book.
Does it draw on classic romance novel tropes? Of course.
Is it formulaic? Hell to the no.
To write romance well, you’ve got to have mad skills. You have to know how to build real, likeable characters. You have to create a living, breathing world around them without spending chapters and chapters explaining it to your readers. And you’ve got to keep the pedal to the metal, plot-wise, and yet keep it tightly focused on the people — and the romance — that are at its heart.
It’s not a simple task.
And then there’s the sex. We all love sex, right? It’s the thing that fuels new relationships and the spark that those of us who have settled into long-term relationships fight to keep hot.
So of course it has a place in a modern-day romance novel. But writing it? That’s hard (no pun intended). After all, in this genre, it’s not enough to describe how peg A fits into slot B. In fact, there’s no point in including it if it’s not emotionally fraught and plot-forwarding.
Did I mention that it’s not easy? Because it’s not. Especially if you’re somewhat shy and not all that comfortable talking about it in real life.
Writing a good romance novel is tough. Getting published by Harlequin is tougher still. And I’ve done (or am doing) both.
How many people can say that?
Hopefully, this is the first of many books that I’ll publish. I hope to someday fill a bookcase with everything I’ve written (or at least a shelf).
I, Amber Page, am a romance novel author. And I couldn’t be more proud.
Don’t make me say it again.
And, just to get a couple of other questions out of the way, let me just state for the record:
1. No, you are not, and will never be, a character in my book.
2. No, I am not a character in my book.
3. Yes, I have a very vivid imagination.
4. Only my husband will ever know.
*** I should make it very clear that my husband is fully supportive of my writing. He just like to try to make sure I’m prepared for the worst, even if I’d rather keep my head in the clouds.