Day 20 Susan King – Overcoming Everything In Romance

Real Love is Romantic Love

Celebrate romance? Absolutely! I love romance fiction, and I write in the genre because I so love and believe in the power of Blackthornesrose new coverromance. But to be particular about it – I don’t love a sentimental, sticky-sweet, predictable expression of romance in fiction or in life. Hearts and flowers, candy and passionate declarations (dark chocolate is always an exception) aren’t necessary—those forms don’t exemplify romance to me. Genuine romantic love, I think, is something else again—strong and quiet and always completely there, it doesn’t need overt gestures (unless they are made of chocolate). The real deal is unique, unexpected, humble, tender, heart-felt, respected, understood and deeply valued. It’s an almost magical charismatic connection that occurs between two people. And it’s not rare. It’s real.

Genuine romance sometimes sparks hot and fast, and other times grows slowly between two whose need to be together, to give support and love, becomes compelling and strong and enduring. That’s the sort of romantic love I admire and the sort that I want to create in my novels. The couple may begin on opposite sides of a situation, or might be opposite personalities—or they could be very similar. They may have considerable hurdles between them, and the question is whether they can overcome those, or if they want to overcome them to claim something bigger than either of them. As the bond between them grows, these two will overcome anything for the sake of what now exists—equal parts passionate, peaceful, courageous, protective, loyal, that love between them, I think, is utterly romantic.

Creating just that sort of character and relationship arc is a big part of why I love writing romance fiction. In my very first novel, The Black Thorne’s Rose, through all the rest of my books, I want my characters to be authentic within the context of their time and place, and to be totally genuine as people. I want the feelings that develop between them to be timeless, outside the boundaries of their time and place. I want those feelings to seem so real that the story gains power, and the reader feels love and connection with the hero, the heroine and their story. Love and romance are way more than hearts and flowers, sunny vacations and candlelit dinners—true romance stirs in emotions and soul connections in subtle, powerful, meaningful ways that go far deeper than sentimental gestures.

Though if my husband wants to take me out to dinner and give me prezzies, hey, I’m all for that. I know what he means, and I will do the same. But if you’re looking for real romance, forget hearts and flowers (but not, as we have established, chocolate) – if you have a quietly wonderful, passionate, utterly reliable emotional bond in your life, or you create it or read it and feel that—it doesn’t get more romantic than that.


I usually recommend my friends’ books, being in awe of the books they write – especially the Word Wenches (Mary Jo Putney, Jo Beverley, Patricia Rice, Joanna Bourne, Cara Elliott/Andrea Pickens, Nicola Cornick and Anne Gracie). Currently I’m enjoying historical mysteries, like the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series by Laurie R. King. Which author do I love most, out of all that I’ve read? Mary Stewart. In homage to that great lady’s recent passing, I’d recommend reading her entire oeuvre, starting with The Moonspinners. 

 Questions for the Author:

Describe the most daring, adventurous or inspiring thing you ever did.

Besides giving birth without drugs? Did that more than once! As a writer, I’ve done some adventurous things in the name of research – like flying hawks or catching arrows. I learned to do the latter from a former marine and 10th degree black belt. Facing a guy like that while he raised a bow to shoot at me, and then actually catching the arrow shaft, took a little courage! The research was for Swan Maiden, set in 14th century Scotland, but feeling that moment of courage was pretty inspiring for me and I’ve carried that forward to try other adventurous tracks in writing and life.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)

Even as a little kid I loved writing stories, loved books, and always secretly wanted to be a writer. I took a long, circuitous route through art school, grad school and motherhood. I decided to try some fiction for fun while I was still in grad school, and to my surprise, won a contest and got an agent and a book contract for The Black Thorne’s Rose, my first historical romance. My choice at the time was academics or writing stories – the books allowed me to stay home with my little ones. So I took a chance and followed my secret love, storytelling. I’m still at it.

Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)

Many books have changed me, given me insights and inspiration as a person or as a writer. Jane Eyre. The Power of Now. Would you believe Pippi Longstocking? Yes, because that’s the first time I remember very much wanting to write a story that I loved as much as that.  One book, though, that truly changed me was my own novel, Lady Macbeth – not the book, but my own experience creating it. Not only did I have to ratchet up my skills from writing historical romance to mainstream historical fiction—there were deeper challenges to all my skills, writing and research, reasoning and even physical and mental endurance because of the years that went by as I researched and wrote and revised. Lady M, a pretty tough cookie herself, toughened me up—definitely life-changing!

Susan is generously giving away a signed copy of Lady Macbeth or any of her historical romances – reader’s choice. U.S. readers only, apologies to international friends. (entry below)


susanfacebookSusan King is the bestselling, award-winning author of 22 historical novels and novellas praised for historical accuracy and lyrical writing. Her first novel, The Black Thorne’s Rose, was published in 1994 by Penguin. As Susan King and Sarah Gabriel, she has written many historical romances for major publishing houses; as Susan Fraser King, she writes highly acclaimed historical fiction, including Lady Macbeth and Queen Hereafter, published by Random House. Her backlist novels are newly released in e-book form, and she is currently working on new fiction. A founding member of the successful author blog “Word Wenches,” Susan holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, a master’s in art history, and her Ph.D. work was in medieval art history. She lives in Maryland with her family.

Learn more about Susan’s books at,  and

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