Day 23 Sarah Frantz – Romancing Ourselves

Celebrating Romance, Romancing Self

A month ago, my husband came to me and said that although he was proud of me, he wasn’t in love with the person I’d become.

While I appreciate his honesty and the courage it must have taken to tell me something so difficult, it was nothing I’d ever expected. We were the perfect couple, so much in love after so long. So to find that love just . . . gone . . . was devastating.

We tried to work it out. We tried to find something to save. But a week ago, my husband and I mutually decided our 24 year relationship was over.

Mutually. By then, it was what I wanted, too.

Because a lifetime of reading romance has taught me that I deserve to be loved for who I am, all of who I am. If my partner doesn’t want all of me, if they want to pick and choose the bits of me to love, then that’s not love.

Romance made me the person I am. Every bit of me.

I’ve always been most drawn to books with romance in them (the second and third Anne of Green Gables books, for example), but I started reading actual genre romance when I was twelve. I raced through my mother’s shelf of Mills and Boon, so she introduced me to Georgette Heyer. When I’d finished those, I asked for something else like that, so she gave me Pride and Prejudice. Fifteen years later, she watched me walk across the stage at my Ph.D. hooding ceremony—a Ph.D. I’d attained with a dissertation that had a chapter about the proposal scenes in Jane Austen’s novels.

Romance gave me a career I loved. I was chair of the Romance Area of the Popular Culture Association. I co-edited an academic anthology, New Approaches to Popular Romance Fiction: Critical Essays. I founded the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance. And when that career didn’t fit me anymore, romance gave me another career, this one helping to create romance as Senior Editor of Riptide Publishing, a queer romance press.

But, more importantly, romance taught me how to communicate. Romance taught me how to have sex. Romance taught me that I deserve pleasure and that I have a voice worth listening to. Romance taught me to be true to myself. Romance taught me that love begins with loving yourself. Romance taught me that I’m pansexual, that I’m queer, that I’m polyamorous, that I’m kinky. It taught me to find myself, to be myself, and to be proud of that person.

Romance helped to build the relationship I had with my husband into the strong, lasting thing of joy that it was.

And romance gave me the courage to walk away.

Because I deserve to be with someone who can love all of me.

So, today, I celebrate romance for helping to create the person I am and also for helping me to love and take pride in that person. For teaching me to believe in love, and to believe in me, and for giving me the strength to wait for someone who believes in those things too.

The truth is, when we celebrate romance, we celebrate ourselves. And that’s worth everything.

Recommendations:

Of course, all of Riptide’s authors are wonderful and worth all the recommendations. But in order to avoid conflict of interest or having to pick favorites, I’m going to recommend two authors I adore and don’t work with: Laura Kinsale and K.A. Mitchell. My favorite of Kinsale’s novels are Seize the Fire and For My Lady’s Heart. And her audio books are to die for.

My favorite of K.A.’s novels is No Souvenirs, which I think is one of the most perfectly plotted books ever, and defies expectations every time it turns around. And for those who love hardcore sadomasochistic romance: Anah Crow’s Uneven is stunningly brilliant.


Questions for Sarah:

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

Quit a tenured academic position to edit fiction for a digital startup. When I say it like that, it sounds insane, but I feel like I’ve come home.

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?)

Well, obviously I’m not a writer, I’m an editor. But I came to that three ways: through my academic training – grading 200 composition papers a semester helped there, as did my training as a narratologist (someone who examines how stories are put together); through my reviewing m/m romance and BDSM romance at Dear Author; and through the generosity of my boss willing to take a chance on someone with no formal training as an editor.

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

I’m going to be utterly nerdy here: Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality, Vol 1. Because I read that my first year of graduate school and immediately wrote a paper using his theory of confession to analyze romance novels. Which ended up being my first published academic paper (after much revision). And it’s that path that led me to where I am today.

Sarah and Riptide Publishing are thrilled to offer five lucky winners one digital copy of any book in our catalog. 


Brown (1024x1280)Sarah Frantz is Senior Editor at Riptide Publishing, a queer romance press. She earned her Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Michigan and co-edited two academic collections of essays, Women Constructing Men: Female Novelists and Their Male Characters, 1750-2000 (Lexington, 2009) and New Approaches to Popular Romance Fiction: Critical Essays (McFarland, 2012). She is founder and past president of the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance and has published academic articles on Jane Austen and on romance authors J.R. Ward, Suzanne Brockmann, and Joey W. Hill. As a fiction editor, she edits across the queer spectrum in all romance subgenres. She can almost always be found procrastinating on twitter: @SarahFrantz

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