When I started writing I had no idea I would be writing romances, aka Love Stories. I had never read what was known back then as romances, books published by Mills and Boon, Avalon, Harlequin. I did like happy endings to stories, and I did enjoy the romance that was included in the story. But in the books I read, the romance usually wasn’t primary. It was going on along with other elements of the story: a mystery, an adventure, a family saga, etc. To focus just on the relationship (love) of two people didn’t seem that interesting. I wanted more to the story.
When I made my first attempts at writing, I finally realize I was writing a romance. So I went to the library and started reading romances…and I wasn’t overly impressed. Oh, the writing wasn’t bad, in fact some authors were quite good, but in most cases the story was about a young woman (late teens/early twenties) who was either the ward of some dark, brooding male who constantly growled at her until the last page when he declared his love, or if not a ward, then a governess to his children, or the kidnapped hostage that the kidnapper ends up falling in love with.
The most unrealistic aspect of these books was how there would be a passionate scene, that would suddenly end with the brooding male stepping back and walking away, leaving the poor female hot and bothered (well, back then they never described it as that) and wondering what she did wrong.
I dated a lot of men before I met and married my husband. They weren’t the ones who stepped back. I was usually shoving the door in their faces, insisting they go home and cool off. The books simply didn’t seem realistic, didn’t portray the women of the ‘80s. I tried writing a romance, but the stories I wrote included women who didn’t need a man to survive, who were as passionate as men. My stories included SEX.
I began to wonder if I could be published as a romance writer, but I was lucky. By the time I’d honed the craft of writing enough that my stories held together, Harlequin, Silhouette, Dell, Kensington, and other publishers realized American female writers were writing stories that would appeal to American readers. This was a time when women were burning their bras, breaking into the business world big time, and asserting their rights as passionate beings. American writers (along with some English, Canadian, Australian, and New Zeeland writers) dropped the wards and helpless females. The new heroines were feisty, outspoken, and more interested in being a lover and partner than arm candy.
Yes! This was what I was writing, what I wanted to write. I wanted my heroines to lead interesting lives and do interesting things, to be in professions or locations that I could research. And so I wrote 25 romances for Harlequin, Silhouette and Bantam. Even now, as I write my suspense stories, there’s usually an element of Love involved. It’s not the central focus of the mysteries, but it’s there because in real life human beings need love.
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