Day 7 Suzanne Palmieri

Writing Romance: It’s a Family Affair!

When most of us think of romance, we think of sweeping love stories between men and women (or women and women and/or men and men depending on what sub-genre of romance you prefer).  The idea being that the word ROMANCE evokes a “Romantic Love” ideal that involves a growing sexual connection.

I’m here today not to dispel this notion but to add to it.The Witch of Little Italy

Romance involves intimacy, and the definition of intimacy is “shared fear”. Take a moment to think about your best friend. Most likely the two of you went through something together where you were both scared. That’s why you are so close! The same thing holds true for relationships inside of families. Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, there is so much shared fear in birthing and raising children, in watching them grow, in setting them free. I believe that the family bond is the most intimate relationship of all, and that’s why I write about it in all of my novels. My narratives are full of “Family Romance”. We all have a family, no matter how close or how far away emotionally or geographically, so it becomes a bond between the reader and the story. Something everyone can relate to.

If we look at the word romantic itself, it can be an atmosphere as well, a setting, so to speak. Beaches, architecture, almost anything can be romantic. Even a clothesline full of cotton nightgowns blowing back and forth on a gentle breeze does the trick. These are all romantic scenes that we use to create a background for our characters and their own romances.

To explore this idea, I’d like to give you a sample. I’m on the west coast of Florida right now and I woke up early (too early!), and sat on my Father’s front porch as the sun came up over the Sea Grape trees and swaggering Spanish Moss.

I’m only visiting, but I miss my father and my entire family that lives here every single day of my Yankee life. So I decided to write him a letter, even though I knew I’d see him in a hot second and drink a cup of coffee right there next to him. I did this for YOU, and I did it for ME, and I did it for him.

Dear Daddy,

It doesn’t matter what happened before. It stopped mattering the moment you said, “I love you, Girl, but we gotta move on from all that crap if we want to get to know each other.” I was sixteen, but I heard you in my heart. If we’d looked at each other with grief, pain and regret for the rest of our lives, we’d never be able to fully love one another. And boy, do I love you. We’ve been  “together” now far longer than we were ever apart and I want to let you know a secret.

This morning, I sat on your front porch and watched the sun come up. We’d been sitting out here last night having a conversation with each other underneath the conversation that we were having with your neighbors. Speaking that secret language that makes me feel like I belong to someone. Belonging has always been the key to my heart.  Thank you for living here. Thank you for giving me green eyes and a sense of humor most people don’t understand.

Thank you for looking at me that way over the best gin and tonic I ever tasted. Because you said all the things with your eyes that you (and me too, because I belong to you), could never have said out loud.

The sun came up here on your dirt road, backwater street. The sun came up and my heart soared.

I adore you.

Love, Suzy.

So there you have it, Romance between a father and his daughter. See? Romance IS a family affair!


Questions for Suzanne

What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?

An old wool blanket my father bought for my mother in the 70’s. It’s too thick and scratchy. Not to mention the several shades of drab tan it’s become over the years. When you don’t feel well, though? It’s HEAVEN.


If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?)

The film would be called “The Gravity of Loss” and PLEASE let Drew Barrymore play me. I mean, right?


What is the best non-monetary gift you ever received?

A kiss on my 25th Birthday. I’m not saying ONE MORE WORD about that. Ahem.


If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be? (Any picks for romance novels in general?)

I suppose I may be reading this question wrong, so I’ll answer it two ways: Great Romantic scenes from MY books: In The Witch of Little Italy the scene  where Anthony put’s his hand on Elly’s stomach and says…. SPOILER.

And in I’LL BE SEEING YOU, There’s this kiss against a shed… SPOILER. 🙂 If I’m answering about other books?

OH PLEASE just read Gone with The WInd. I mean, the whole thing is a romance. Not to be missed. Even if you saw the movie. Read the book!


Suzy is generously donating a copy of The Witch of Little Italy and two copies of I’ll Be Seeing You to give away  to U.S. readers (apologies to international readers). To enter the domestic contest, either leave a comment here or enter the weekly drawing on the contest page. Or both.  (Only one entry per commenter per post, though – multiple comments on one essay does not give you more chances.)  Comment entries must be posted by midnight EST Aug 8 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.

Suzanne Palmieri/Suzanne Hayes is the author of the The Witch of Little Italy (published by St. Martin’s Press in March 2013) and co-author of I’ll Be Seeing You (published by Mira in May 2013) with Loretta Nyhan (*posting tomorrow ~ B). She lives by the ocean in Connecticut with her husband and three darling witches and likes to go by the nickname Suzy (with a “y” always with a “y”). You can read more about Suzy at the website she shares with Loretta, 


Buy Suzy’s books on Amazon.

  • Britney Adams

    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing your wonderful thoughts and this very special letter!

    • Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes

      Britney! You are so welcome. I love writing romantic things to my family. Thank YOU for reading!

  • Ketta Peters

    I just got “The Witch of Little Italy” and it’s about 3rd down in my (rather large) TBR pile. And I’ve read “Gone With The Wind” and totally agree with you.

    • Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes

      Ketta, thank you SO much. I get the TBR pile! The only bad thing about being a published author is that I have so much writing to do, my TBR pile keeps GROWING. Eeek! Please let me know when you read my Witch! I appreciate ANY type of feedback as it helps me improve the “craft”. Ha!

  • Jen Ferraro Stepke

    What a touching, beautiful letter. You made me cry into my coffee (but I am so not complaining) What a great way to start the day! Thank you!

    • Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes

      OH Jen! I have a tendency to do that. (on my blog… people are always crying. I can’t decide if that’s a good OR bad thing! But thank you so much for reading. And for the feedback! I think I love you….

      • Jen Ferraro Stepke

        I can’t speak for anyone else, but in my case it is definitely a very good thing!
        P.S I think I love you too… 🙂

        • Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes

          YAY!!!!!! XOXOOXO

        • I love you both. xoxo

  • Cheryl Hastings

    That was a beautiful letter; I can’t wait to read your books 🙂

    • Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes

      Thank you so much! I am so pleased you took the time to read this post. XO

  • Suzanne Brockmann

    I wish there was a LOVE button to push! Beautifully written! So often the focus on romance novels is only on the relationship between the two main lovers — maybe because that’s how the books are marketed. But unless we’re writing “desert island” stories (or trapped in a cabin in a blizzard, etc.), most romance novels include a myriad of complicated and rich relationships beyond that main romance, whether it’s with the families our characters are born into or the families they create. Thanks so much for writing about this!

    • Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes

      Suzanne!!!! I am collecting Suzanne’s as friends so we are now friends! (is your middle name Marie by any chance? Mine is…) Thank YOU for commenting! I feel romance is everywhere in every book. Spanning genre.. you know? The most influential and bestselling books always have a deeply romantic element in them. Take The Witching Hour, by Anne Rice. Her development of The Garden District in NOLA? Steeped in romance. And, all of Alice Hoffman’s books deal with the layers of romance and bonds inside of families. It’s everywhere!

    • Thanks, Suzanne – I loved it too. xoxo

  • Karin Anderson

    The books are ALWAYS better than the movies, aren’t they? I love Gone with the Wind. 😀

    • Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes

      Karin! I remember picking it up in a used book bin and thinking… hmmm… I love the movie, will this be as good? Then I read it. Holy cow. I mean, it’s a GREAT novel. I learned so much from it! Thank you for posting. XO

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    I really enjoyed your letter. I like books that are based on love and family. I look forward to reading your books. I am going to have to check them out. 🙂

    • Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes

      Thank you so much, Melissa! (which is the name of a beautiful herb/flower/// Sweet Melissa! XO)

  • Kim Cornwell

    Love meeting new authors. Thanks for being here!

    • Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes

      Thank YOU for giving up a bit of your day to read. I mean that. XO

  • Amy McKechney Lang

    Thoroughly enjoyed your letter to your Dad!

    • Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes

      Thank You for stopping by and reading it! It’s always fun to meet new people this way.

  • Jen C

    What a great post today! These writings about romance are so interesting and different. I’m really enjoying them. I certainly enjoyed yours!

    • Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes

      Thank you! I really love being a part of what Bobbi is doing here. It’s so exciting!

  • Ann Mettert

    Isn’t it amazing how all these essays are about romance and yet all different. And all insightful. And all true. Just like the others, I’ve really enjoyed reading this one too.

    • Thanks, Ann – I was thinking that too!

    • Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes

      Thank you! So much.

  • Anne

    Thank you for sharing! I thought your letter to your dad was great.

    • Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes

      Thank you! I read it to him and he got a little teary… which is RARE for that man. XO

  • Meredith Richardson

    I just love these essays about how everyone fell in love with romance books and Read-A-Romance Month!! I think the best part is that I’ve discovered so many great authors I never knew existed 🙂 I can’t wait to check out your books!

    • Thanks, Meredith! I’ll Be Seeing You was once of my favorites this year!

      • Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes

        Bobbi! That’s so wonderful to hear!

    • Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes

      Me either! And here I am on a deadline reading all these essays! I’m honored to be among such talented authors. I’ve been reading all day! (Thank you for commenting here… It means the world)

  • Vickie P

    Loved The Witch of Little Italy and would love to read I’ll Be Seeing You!

    • Fantastic book, Vickie! xoxo

      • Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes

        AHHHHH! Thank you! Thank you for reading. XO

  • Eileen Wetterstrom

    Your relationship is special with your dad and very likely we are looking at two really nice people. It’s good to see that the two of you are able to create that bond. It is not always so. Life just seems to get in the way and people react to fear in different ways–not always making for a loving relationship. Thanks for sharing your opinion. It gets me pondering. I have a brother who hasn’t talked with me for 25 years. Why? It ended with a discussion on religion–I didn’t fit his idea of what I need to be in HIS religious world. Reaching out hasn’t changed anything.

    • Not easy. xoxo Thanks for being here, Eileen.

      • Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes

        Eileen! Thank you for this lovely message and for sharing. I mean that. You can’t know or understand how much this comment means. To me, and to Bobbi. I mean, MAGIC. This is magic.

  • Sue G.

    Sweet letter to your dad. I agree…family is where everything starts! Good and bad.

    • Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes

      Thank you Sue! Part of what I like to do in my novels is explore how to make all that “Bad” into good. You know? XO and Thank you for commenting. Really!

  • MaryC

    I remember my Mom and I agreeing not to discuss certain topics – it made our time together so much more enjoyable.

    • Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes

      Amen. XO

  • Nancy Huddleston

    Family means love

    • Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes

      Nancy, it does. Oh, it does. Always… even when it seems that there isn’t any. That’s because love can hurt too. But there is ALWAYS love. XO Thank you for commenting!

  • Ruth

    I think the relationship between father’s and daughter can rough and rocky. But that relationship is so important. My father and I butted heads (and hearts) a lot. Partly because we are more alike that I wanted to admit when I was young. At the core of it though, I never doubted that my father loved me and that he wanted me as his daughter. I totally agree with you, Suzy – romance is every where. Some of the most “romantic” words and gestures have come from my students. And I mean that in a totally appropriate way. One year, when I taught 3rd grade, I knew before the school year was over that I would be returning. I felt it was important to be honest with my students and let them know. We were all a little said. One day, after I’d told them, I was feeling particularly out of sorts. I apologized for be crabby and one of my boys said, “That’s O.K. I’ll help you feel better because that’s what best friends do for each other.” From a 9 year old. Those are some of the sweetest words I’ve ever heard.

    • Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes

      This comment! Oh, that is such a lovely story. I’m a teacher too… high school, but I know exactly what you mean. EXACTLY. Spot on. XO

  • brhill2010

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on romance. I always thought about romance being between a man and a woman in novels, never really thought about incorporating the whole family. Going to have to try a novel like that.

  • Patty Vasquez

    I have a strong sense of “Family Romance” every time I look at the photo of my daughter, then 2 years old, sitting on my dad’s lap reading a book with him. Love personified.

  • Dawn

    Loved your post. I have had conversations under conversations as you describe with my dad, too. Enjoyed your discussion of the many flavors/meanings of “romance”. I will definitely be checking out your books (thanks for the recommendations).

  • BookLady

    Interesting post! Thanks for sharing. I also agree that Gone With the Wind is one of the best romance books ever written.

  • Jennifer Huelsebusch

    I have heard great things about the Witch of Little Italy and would love to read it!

  • QuenKne M

    Thanks for noting that romance includes much more than a guy and a gal.

  • Karen Gallagher

    That was beautiful. I usually avoid father-daughter stories as they make me very sad, whether the story is happy or not. This made me think of when I was little and my father was everything to me. For a long time I didn’t let myself remember that. But I do now. And thanks to you, calling it a romance seems just right.

  • What a great perspective! Thank you for sharing.

  • Lorelei’s Lit Lair

    That was a beautiful post and letter to your dad, Suzy. So glad to see you here and soaring. xoxo

  • Pamby50

    What an absolutely beautiful letter you wrote to your dad. I look forward to reading any book by you.

  • Courtney Cogswell

    What an amazing viewpoint! This made me sit back and think about so many amazing moments I’ve share with my mom and dad…and even my little brother. I tend to get swept up in the traditional hero/heroine romance but it is true that I always enjoy the other romantic aspects in each book whether its between children, parents, friends or anyone. Thank you for posting this and giving me something to mull over. Love your letter to your father–I feel inspired to do that for my parents as well. Looking forward to checking out your book lineup!

  • Melanie Backus

    Beautiful words, Suzanne! A relationship between a father and daughter is so special and so strong. Mine called me today from the 15th hole today. He took time to stop his golfing and sing Happy Birthday to me. Priceless!

  • Kim

    Thank you for sharing the letter to your dad. It was really special and I’m sure he loved it.

  • rebecca moe

    Ack! No fair with the spoilers!! 🙂

  • leah g

    I have had a rough time with my father. But I do love him and he means the world to me. Even more as he gets older and his health is getting sketchier. I love that you write about families.

  • Flora Segura-Buchler

    Lovely blog, today Suzanne; my TBR list just got longer!

  • suepeace

    Thanks for sharing that! Looking forward to checking out your books!! 🙂

  • Rhiannon Rowland

    Nice to ‘meet’ you Suzanne! I agree romance is everywhere, including family. Love my family!

  • Dorothy salvagin

    Beautiful letter, Thanks.

  • tonda hargett

    I never knew intimacy meant shared fear, something new to think about. And I totally agree with you about Gone with the Wind. I really didn’t care for the movie, because I had already read the book and it was SO much better!