August 12, 2018
Romance novels, and romance writers, still get a lot of no respect. Why would any self-respecting, trained historian with a fairly intellectual job choose to write romance, knowing that a lot of people - even people who read romances - scoff at it?
Well, personally, because it's fun. It's fun to write love stories. It's fun (and, to me, so far at least, easy) to come up with two characters and plop them into an imagined environment and see what happens. And also:
Why on earth would I make that claim? Is not a fictional love story the most trivial thing in the world?
Because a happy intimate relationship is one of the best indicators of healthy long life.
Because the desire for a happy intimate relationship is embedded in our genes.
Because the drama associated with intimate relationships drives most great literature, never mind the 140-page paperbacks at the supermarket checkout.
And because the choice of a mate is often, if not always, the single most important choice most people make in life.
Especially in a historical context, but not much less so now. Who you choose to marry and have children with (or not) has a weight of consequence that is ignored only by the foolish. The choice of mate can still be, in many cultures including our own, a matter of life and death.
Also: the person (especially the woman, because we always get the heavy end of the judgement stick) who never achieves a successful intimate relationship is seen, nearly everywhere, with pity not unmixed with scorn.
So even though I started reading mysteries long before I started reading romance, even though I still read two to three mystery or science-fiction or fantasy novels to every romance novel, my personal preference is for literature - of all genres - that does not shy away from the importance of the intimate relationship.
Romances, of course, come in all flavors from sweet to spicy; and are set in all cultures from vampires to Mormons. So far I've basically written three flavors. My preference is for the spicy end of the spectrum, because, frankly, it's fun to write a sex scene and also because people in relationships have sex.
Very few people (I've certainly never known any) go looking for an intimate relationship with a person to whom they have no physical attraction.
A sexless romance is like a murder mystery in which nobody gets killed.
Basically, the sheer range that is available under the big flowery canopy of Romance means that I will probably never run out of ideas. Now that I've given myself permission to frolic in this candy store, why would I stop?
Will I turn around one day and say to myself: Self, you need to write a Serious Novel?
It's possible. It's also possible that I will get more and more frivolous over the years. I have yet to see a study finding a connection between portentousness and happiness. In my observation, those who frolic have a lot more fun in life. It's possible to frolic while still being responsible. And that's just what I intend to do.