Saturday, May 1, 2010

Why Romance?

Why do I write romance? First of all, before I was a romance writer, I was a romance reader. Many people can tell you where and with whom they shared their first kiss. Many people can recall their first love. Romance readers will tell you they remember their first romance novel.


Mine was called Lily of the Valley. Published by Harlequin, it was sold with perfume by Avon. That's Avon the cosmetic company, not the publishing company. My mom bought it for my 13th birthday. As a new teenager I was ready to make the leap from fairy tales to romance novels. I still got Prince Charming, damsels in distress, and the much anticipated "happily ever after".


Not every book can promise that happily ever after, but romance novels do. Even if nowadays it is just happily for now. Every romance novel, true romance novel, ends on an upbeat and satisfying conclusion.


That happily ever after is why I choose to write romance novels. Just like I experienced in my first romance novel, I want to know I can give a reader that experience of true love, vanquished villains, the rescue in the nick of time, and "happily ever after".


So, when I decided to be a writer, I knew I would be a romance writer. We write what we love. We write what we read. My first try at a romance novel was a muddled mess titled, Passion's Price. I did not know any of the rules of writing or writing a romance. My heroine was a married woman, sold into white slavery by her evil mother-in-law, who then falls in love with her captor until he is killed in an earthquake and she can escape back to her husband who married another while she was gone. Whew!! I think that is called "everything including the kitchen sink" plot.


I would like to think my writing and "plotting" has improved since then and since I joined Romance Writers of America and my chapters. But just like Lily of the Valley, I will never forget my first romance story, no matter how many dust bunnies it is keeping company with under the bed.



7 comments:

Mona Risk said...

Jill, I love reading about what drove authors to write. I too treasure my first romance, although I stole mine from the bookcase my Dad kept locked after I managed to find the key. I read it and put it back in place, and then took it again several times and read it again and again until I was caught red-handed, but Dad gave up on locking the romance bookcase.

Carolyn Hughey said...

What a wonderful post, Jill. It's a heart warming tale about your journey to writing and I enjoyed it very much.

Regardless of Avon's motive behind the advertising, for them to have included a bottle of perfume with the book is a wonderful way of getting people to read. I'm always amazed when I hear people say they don't read books. They're missing out on so much.

Thank you for sharing, Jill.

jilljames said...

Mona and Carolyn, thanks. I think the best part of RWA and FTH is knowing you are surrounded by people who love books.

Donna Goode said...

I loved your story about your first romance novel, Jill! Although I laughed, it was at your hilarious description. The important thing was that you continued to write and learned as you went along. Thanks for a wonderful and heartwarming story--and a good laugh!

Lisa Dale said...

I love first romance novel stories. I was given a romance the summer of my 15th birthday. Of course I kept it hidden under my bed for months! I wish so much that I could remember the name of that book.... would love to read it with new eyes now.

Great post!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I have always had 'people' in my head making up stories and thought everyone else did, too. My people have turned into my characters and they gladly supply me with all kinds of plots and ideas. Unfortunately, like me they don't like conflict so we do hassle over making my wonderful hero and heroine miserable and pulled apart when all they want to do is make love. I was horrified when I learned you don't have a story without conflict. My first romance that I remember loving and re-reading many times was Shanna and her fabulously heroic Roark. I'd gotten away from reading for years and when someone asked me what I was reading, I was embarrassed to reply "nothing." Once I picked up Kathleen Woodiwiss's book, I never looked back and have devoured historical romances ever since.

jilljames said...

Donna, thanks for laughing. That first first manuscript was pretty funny.

Lisa, I love my first romance novel. That's Lily of the Valley in the photo above.

Paisley, Me too. Who knew you had no story without conflict!! LOL