Deadline Diaries

Five Romance writers tell all.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Lovin' the Love Thing

Romance has been getting press this week, what with Dear Abby addressing her earlier denigration of our novels after hearing from many authors and readers ( and the Texas politician who is criticizing his opponent for publishing one "pornographic" (his word) Kismet romance in 1990 ( And not to forget (don't forget!) our reminders that it's time to vote for our own Kate in the American Title III contest at( In the wake of this publicity, once again the stats have been highlighted, proving the popularity of our genre.

So I got to thinking, why do I (and so many others) love romance so much?

I read a lot, and within different genres, but I always, always come back to romance after my forays into other kinds of fiction (and non-fiction). And any kind of book that I read I find better when it has even a mere thread of romance running through it—from a Harlan Coben thriller to a Jodi Picoult women’s fiction novel to The DaVinci Code. Are we all hard-wired to find satisfaction in the emotional arc of a happy-ending love story or did I develop a love for our genre because of a lucky intersection of my reading hobby, my developing interest in boys, and that one special book?

I devoured the volumes in the children’s section at my local library from an early age. First my mom would drive me, then I began riding my bike with the big basket, carting home as many books as I could. I was getting close to exhausting everything available in that kids’ section when I came across Mara, Daughter of the Nile. Oh! How many times I read that book. And far from portraying the wrong things about women, men, and love (as Abby originally—and ignorantly—posited) this romance featured a heroic young woman who stands up for herself and finds happiness too.

So is Mara (and author Eloise Jarvis McGraw) responsible for my love of romance? Shortly after reading and rereading that one special book I moved on to the adult section in the library and started buying Harlequin romances with my spending money. Well, I say thank you Mara and Ms. McGraw. From there I found hours and hours of pleasure as well as emotional satisfaction in writing my own stories.

So what was the title of the first romance you ever read, or the one that cemented your love of love stories?


At 12:09 PM, Blogger Maureen Child said...

Ah, Christie, I did the same thing. Mom took us to the library every week and I'd check out as many children's books as they'd allow.

Then when I was 13, Mom gave me a book called MRS. MIKE to read. I was so hooked. It was a romance and an adventure about a young woman who married a Canadian Mountie and left the city to live in the wilds. I read it over and over again and cried every time.

And when Mom handed me GONE WITH THE WIND, I sat in a chair for three days and only got up to eat. =)

So my mother sent me down the romance road and I really embraced the ride!

At 12:35 PM, Blogger Christine Rimmer said...

Oh, yeah Maureen re GWTW. I invented an illness that lasted six days so I could stay home and read it...twice!

I started out on the swashbuckling novels. I loved anything by Frank Yerby. Oh, and Anya Seton. My granny had a lot of Anya Seton books in boxes upstairs and used to get them out and devour them!

It was always the romance threads in these books that held me spellbound.

At 1:36 PM, Blogger Maureen Child said...

Oh yes, Anya. And may I whisper the sacred words, PHYLLIS WHITNEY and MARY STEWART....great gothics..

At 3:34 PM, Blogger Christie Ridgway said...

Anya Seton! Oh, yes. And after I moved out of the children's section, my mom intro'd me to romantic suspense since she was a mystery reader (still is). Was MRS. MIKE made into a movie? It rings a bell.

I wish I had girls so I could watch them get into romance. Instead I have boys and I just bought two books that Son 1 wanted the other day. THE ART OF WAR and CATCH-22. Yeah, like so not romance.

At 3:59 PM, Blogger Christine Rimmer said...

But Christie, I do remember watching little women--the "new" one about a decade ago--when hunky mensa man was out of town. Older son came in--and watched it with me. So bondy. I loved it! So sometimes the guys do surprise you...

At 5:20 PM, Blogger Susan Mallery said...

I don't remember the name of the book that got me hooked. It was a YA romance about an ambassador's daughter in Brazil and the boy she fell in love with. Only he had an arranged marriage to look forward to when he grew up. They walked on the beach, they kissed and when her plane flew away I sobbed in my algebra class (because I was reading the book behind my text book.)

I moved on to gothics, then those sweeping historical, like Vines of Yarabee. What great books!

At 6:11 PM, Blogger Maureen Child said...

Christie, yes!! Mrs. Mike WAS made into a movie and it was terrific, too. Still get all teary thinking about it!

At 9:21 PM, Blogger Kate Carlisle said...

I spent all day searching Amazon for the names of the books I loved when I was 11 or 12. There was one with a girl named Hank who played basketball and another one with a girl named Londy. Sound familiar to anyone? I soaked up books because we moved all the time (see Website Bio page, all true) and the first stop I made in a new place was the local library. I remember a book called "Eugenie" about a woman who fell in love with Napoleon but she wasn't classy enough once what's her name came was heartbreaking!

My first "real" romances were Julie Garwood's and Judith McNaught's books, and I only read them by accident because a friend thought they would be just like the Jane Austens I was They were even better!! I was hooked!

At 9:02 AM, Anonymous SunniBrook said...

I can't remember what my first romance was or what book really cemented me and made me want to write but I'm glad I wasn't the only one using my math book as a cover for a "real" book! lol

The "real" books I had at that time were the Sweet Valley High books. I loved those! Sometimes I see them at the library and think I should get some just to read them again. I had them all once but gave them away as I got older and needed more space for my adult romances.

What's funny is that I started out on historicals and for some reason wouldn't even THINK of buying a contemporary. Not sure why. But I did end up reading one my friend gave me and now I never read historicals. I find I just can't get into them. Very odd.

But one of my favorite historical trio that I've read a few times is Heather Graham's ONE WORE BLUE, ONE WORE GREY, AND ONE RODE WEST. I read them quicker now because I skip the "war" parts and just read the "romance" parts. :)

And I have to say, that although my hubby doesn't actually read the books themselves, he pays attention when I tell him about books I've liked, or books I've thrown away because they were so dumb, and he listens when I read him passages of ones I'm currently reading. He's very good at romances, heck, he's even in our critique group! He provides an excellent male "Oh, come on, what guy would do that?" point of view. LOL


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