Remember the days when your reading selection was contained in only one or two places, called either ‘bookstores’ or ‘the library’? Remember when you had to take a small, rectangular object to a counter and interact with a person in order to read a book? I remember celebrating the advent of self-checkout machines at my local library because I no longer needed to look guiltily away while I put my romance novels on the library counter. But who told romance readers to feel guilty?
As ebooks have overturned the industry and data about the enormous readership of ‘genre’ fiction have become more widespread, people have become more open about their ‘guilty pleasures’. But romance in particular is still branded as second-rate literature – certainly more so than crime or science fiction. Hollywood films with the same content are blockbusters, but romance novels are still something to have an embarrassed giggle about.
It took me more than ten years to own the fact that I love to write romance. Rather than being a limiting format, the challenges of different characters are endless. And inspiration is everywhere. I love watching my characters unfold as the story continues. I plan the plot and keep the main points of conflict in my mind, but different pieces of the characters drop in as the story progresses. I’ve recently had a light bulb moment with the hero I’m currently writing. It came from an unexpected place!
While on my enforced writing break (family holiday), I had the rare opportunity to indulge in my other ‘guilty pleasure’ – Star Wars. I love the old films, quite enjoyed episodes one to three and completely lost track of the newest instalments. Star Wars is a lot like romance novels. Heroes and heroines, decisions and sacrifices – and a loyal following who have particular expectations!
I managed to catch both of the new ones on the long flight. And – click – Captain Cassian Andor provided the last pieces of Jon. He’s strong and tough but not huge or imposing. He’s passionate, but controlled. He’s focussed and capable, hard on the outside, but unable to suppress his soft side. The end of the story is beginning to fall into place. Jon’s discovering just what he’ll sacrifice for Meg.