Saturday, January 28, 2012

Why Write Romance?

While most people wouldn't bat an eye lash over someone writing a paranormal novel given the popularity of scary monsters and sexy vampires in our culture, many of them will raise an eye brow, or two when you tell them that you are writing a romance novel.  I get many interesting responses when I decide to share my secret with people that I know.  The responses range from interest and questions, to, "oh, that's nice", while changing the subject.  Others just don't quite know what to say.  The funny thing is, we are all adults and it's obvious that they enjoy intimacy with their spouses, yet it's still considered risque to talk about.  I try to limit my conversations when people hear that I am writing a book series and keep it vague on purpose.  Wouldn't want to offend anyone.  That isn't certainly is the kind of person I'm writing for anyway.  I am writing for the people who need a little kick start in their day who, even if they have intimacy, may enjoy hearing from someone else about their different experiences with relationships.  I know I do.

I didn't start reading romance novels, or even books, until I decided to read Twilight.  Before that I was more of a movie person, despite being an English major and writing for fun in my spare time when I was younger.  I always like vampires, so don't think Twilight turned me on to the paranormal, I have always been interested in the strange stuff.  But once I read Twilight, I realized that I could read for enjoyment instead of the books that I hated reading for English classes.  Much like me telling my son to write about things that interest him and blowing his mind, this book showed me that I could care about a character I had never seen in a movie (obviously I read it before the movie came out) and could make a connection to.  Up to that point in my life I had read Shakespeare, which was interesting, and some other books that were okay, but the majority of them were classics like Paradise Lost, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Tom Sawyer, The Yearling, The House of the Seven Gables, 1985, Brave New World, and the like.  While I could relate to some of the Shakespeare characters, as a kid I had trouble relating to fawns, kids from Missouri painting fences, futuristic government controlled worlds, new civilizations, odd mind altering drugs in a supposed Utopian society vs savage worlds and a house that had seven gables (my English teacher that year, God rest her soul, was terrible at teaching House of the Seven Gables and combined two different characters into one...Malborne Holgrave...even after being told by my one friend who had read the book, that she was making a I only remember that much about the book).  My mind was had always been dark and has always sought out disturbing and dangerous characters.  Kids from Missouri who paint fences may have been real trouble makers at the time, but are not what I would consider dangerous.  Being a goody two shoes my whole life and having suffered from some seriously disturbing life altering situations, I tended to seek out the darkness to appease the side of me that was angry and frustrated with my life since I couldn't change it.  I channeled all my rage into the evil side of the stories.  I cheered for Maleficent when she turned into a dragon.  I wanted Keifer's vampire to win.  I would have been chosen for Slytherin.  So I had trouble finding my niche when it came to stories.

When I found Edward Cullen and his sullen life, I became addicted to him.  In my head, I removed his in action and recreated him into someone who had the best of both worlds.  He could kill with his teeth, yet he still got the girl.  In many senses I made him my own, just like most of the world.  What I was surprised to find was that I enjoyed the intimate moments that he shared with Bella.  Because of his raw power and killing potential, he had to force back his dark side and make himself kinder for her.  In many ways, I felt the same way.  I had to curb my anger and hatred and become kinder if I wanted my relationships to work out.  It was because of Edward that I remembered what it was like to want intimacy.  I had been going through a hard time in my life and I forgotten how to connect to people because of my pain.  <3 were having trouble talking to each other and remembering why weren't close anymore.  Edward unlocked some of the feelings that I kept hidden like, desire and love and kindness and compassion.  When people are in turmoil, they seal off the parts of themselves that can be hurt, to save themselves, and only show people what will keep their enemies at bay.  We snarl and growl to keep people away and protect ourselves.  Edward showed me how defensive and cold I had become.  In short, Edward helped me remember my softer side.  Ironic that a vampire, the creature I had turn to when I was angry with the world, could help me open up and discover what I was holding back.

After Edward, I wanted to find other books that would help to chisel away the ice inside of me.  I needed something to restart the fire and passion within me that I had buried.  My outer shell was too tough for anyone to get through so I needed to crack through it myself to be able to reach out to people. They certainly weren't getting in, so I had to get out.  I went to Barnes and Nobles and wandered into the taboo Romance section and was embarrassed at first.  What if someone saw the me there, oh no?  I picked up a novel and took it home and read it.  While the genre wasn't right, the cover had mislead me, I did find a little of what I was looking for.  I got to read about an impossible relationship and how the characters were attracted to each other and compatible, yet had to overcome great adversity to be together.  That was exactly how I felt.  Once I found the right genre, I made the connection complete.  I read about vampires who's emotions were locked away since they were warriors and how they found someone who made them want to change.  I read about how they learned how to love someone and be intimate.  Ultimately it helped me on many levels.  I found my passionate side, which is always fun.  But I also learned to how to trust someone.  I had to learn that it was okay for me to give a part of myself to them for safe keeping.  I didn't have to keep this wall around me to protect myself, even though I was already sharing my life with someone.  It taught me to rely on someone else for emotional support.  It showed me that I don't have to be an island onto myself.  For the first I trusted someone enough to be intimate.  So I fell in love with the genre.

My heroine was locked in Hell for years and years before I allowed to her to return to the human world.  In Hell she had been miserable, wandering around lost and insecure.  She feared everything and never grew up.  After years of holding her hostage, I finally let her interact with people.  That's when she found her romance.  Orginally, I came up with different men for her to deal with and learn from.  Over time she developed relationships with them.  That's when my story started to write itself.  Granted, as I've said, the characters in my head for 16 years aren't exactly the characters that I'm writing now, but the characters now have more substance to them.  When I started envisioning the men in her life, it was because they were cute or friendly, but once I started writing them, they took on problems and issues of their own.  In writing about her getting through to her men, I realized that I am writing about people getting through my own wall.  I have been able to throw all of my pain and experiences into my characters so that they can hold onto the pain for me and I can breath again. 

So when I write about romance, it isn't just about the intimacy between the characters, it'ss more about how they got to that point and what is going on in the moment.  They are allowing themselves to trust someone for the first time.  They are finding out that it's okay to have love and be loved.  That no matter what they did up to this point, they still deserve to be happy.  Most romance novels have that message at its core.  Unfortunately most people can't see past the bedroom moments to dig deeper into the message leading up to and following the bedroom scene.  I have cried more at my romance novels than I have from any of the books I read in High School or College and I think that's a good thing.  If you cry, that means you are connecting to something, whether good or bad.  While I may have cried with the deer died, it wasn't as gut wrenching as having a hardened man who had endured years of abuse finally embrace someone and tell them that they love them.  It gets my every time because it gives me hope.  At least they could eat the deer to survive if they needed to.

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