I’ve been running from it, kicking it away, fighting to hide it, and just plain old denying it; and now I’m coming out into the open to admit it. I write romance novels. To be honest, I hate genres. I hate being labeled as any kind of author because I write what I write, whatever strikes my fancy, whatever my characters want the manuscript to become. I have never intended to write a romance. I once asked romance novelist Robyn Carr where she thinks I belong. She didn’t hesitate, “You’re a romance writer.” I could barely fake the smile that I returned to her as she beamed proudly at her proclamation. “No, I’m not,” I wanted to scream to the room full of writers and fans. I write children’s books, mysteries, suspense novels, and a blog. I DO NOT write romance. At least, that’s what I’ve always told myself. Alas, here’s the truth: I DO write romance. And here’s why…
- I like romance. I like the happily ever after. I like that when someone finishes my book, they are going to be crying happy tears because, as my editor said about my newest novel, Whispering Vines, “the book ended as it should.” I like to put down a book feeling as though everything is right with the world, even if it’s just that little, contrived world of someone’s imagination.
- I love the romance community. I belong to several writers’ associations. None of them is as welcoming, supportive, charitable, and helpful as the romance groups I belong to. I ask for reviewers, and they jump at the chance to read my books. I ask for advice, and fifty people chime in to help. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of a great community like that? And don’t get me started on how devoted the fans are. They’re the best!
- The sky is the limit. While I really do not like labels, I have come to realize that, as a romance writer, one can really bypass labels or accept all labels as possibilities. You see, as a non-romance fiction writer, I have several genres of choice: mystery/suspense, contemporary, historical, real-life crime, and so on. But as a romance writer, I can have my cake and eat it, too! I can write a mystery, then a sweet love story, then a historical romance, then a children’s fairy tale. And there’s still more. Again, the sky is the limit.
- Romance sells. According to the Atlantic Monthly, romance sales “far outperform other genres of literature, including religious/inspirational books, mystery novels, science fiction and classic literary fiction.” I guarantee that every person reading this knows a romance novel connoisseur (or is one herself). You don’t? Guess again. They may be reading romance in bed after dark when nobody else sees it, but they’re reading it.
- It’s fun and satisfying. Sure, I enjoy an accurate historical account, and they often help me sleep at night (or rather, fall asleep). And a good thriller can be a real page turner. But when it comes down to it, the books that keep me reading are the ones that give me something to root for. Will Ella overcome her horrible curse and find true happiness with Prince Charmont? Will Mr Darcy stop being an arrogant jerk long enough to see that he desperately needs Elizabeth in his life? Will Scarlett ever see past her own selfishness and realize that all Rhett really wants in life is her? These are questions that we must know the answers to! And when that happily ever after comes (or the promise that “tomorrow is another day”), we are satisfied. It leaves us with that glowing feeling that somehow, everything can turn out fine no matter what obstacles one must face even if we have to imagine that tomorrow, it all works out for the best.
- It doesn’t have to be about sex. There is a big push today for books with explicit sex, but not all romance is written for people without imaginations. While an honest, loving, uplifting scene of intimacy is just fine when appropriate, a good novel doesn’t have to include play by play sex scenes. If the story can hold its own, it doesn’t need gratuitousness to keep readers interested.
- There’s already enough hate in the world. Don’t we get tired of seeing bad things happen every time we turn on the news? Must all television shows these days be built around the presence of evil? Sure, bad things happen. Even in romance novels. There has to be some kind of roadblock to happiness, tragic flaws that the hero or heroine must rise above, perhaps even a bad guy wreaking havoc on the characters’ lives. But in the end, romances all have one thing in common – the happily ever after. And isn’t that what we all want out of life? To live happily ever after?
- There’s always a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. There are storms in life. We’ve all faced them. And it’s nice to have a reminder that if we stick around, put in some effort, and dare to take chances, not only can we weather the storm, we can see the rainbow and rejoice as the sun clears.
- A good man is hard to find. Flannery O’Conner was right. But in romance novels, even the bad boys are tamed by the love of a good woman. Isn’t that why every girl has a fling with a rebel or someone from the wrong side of the tracks? Don’t we all want to fall in love with Pony Boy? Okay, that’s not a romance, but you get the point. Does Sandra Brown have any male leads who aren’t brooding rebels obsessing over something in their past? And don’t they always turn out to be the perfect man in the end?
- Because, in the end, love is all that matters. Even St. Paul the Evangelist knew that. Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Corinthians, 13:6-7
Who wouldn’t want to contribute all of that to the world? So I write romance. And I say, ain’t love grand?
Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her latest book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her next book, Whispering Vines, is now available for pre-order.
You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015)