Day 27 Megan Mulry – A Cause for Celebration

Celebrate Romance!

roulette
Whee! This is like rolling off a log! I have so much to celebrate when it comes to romance novels. I never really thought of myself as a very effusive or sentimental person, but I tend to get all sappy about how romance novels have totally changed my life. Here’s how it happened:

I have always been a very late bloomer and romance is just one more example of it. In my late 30s, I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer (also known as a molar pregnancy, when the sperm and egg join, then decide to be a disgusting cancerous mass instead of a baby—it’s kind of grotesquely interesting). Anyway—setting aside my weird fascination with medical anomalies—my doctor caught it right away and took it out and that was that. Moving right along.

Wait. What? Talk about a wake up call! After that happened, I looked around at my life and I wanted to LIVE IT! I wanted to have fun and enjoy every minute of my life. And I realized that all the books I was reading were depressing, gripping, painful narratives. Beautifully written, yes. Fun, no. I felt like Rex the dinosaur in Toy Story. I didn’t need to read about near-death experiences, or cancer, or the sadness of life, “I lived it!”Dinosaur

My friend Dorothy was like, “Seriously! Enough with the suicidal literary fiction! Here! Take these romance novels!” Little did she know she was changing my life. I can still picture the small bag on my front bench in my former house…where it sat untouched for many days. I was pretty snooty about the whole thing. I was too smart for trashy books, doncha know. (Too clever by half, more like it.) Whitney, My Love was in that bag. I get chills just typing that. WHITNEY MY LOVE WAS IN THAT BAG! I mean? What the hell? It’s just a romance novel, right? No big deal. Whitney is selfish and immature and Clayton is autocratic and overbearing and HOLY HELL I could not put that sucker down! Some sort of floodgate opened and I was a ravenous beast of romance-novel-consumption. Julia Quinn? Yes. ALL OF IT. Amanda Quick? Yep. MORE MORE MORE. Eloisa James? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE. I was hooked.

Over the next few years, I basically ingested book after book after book until I had one of those Malcolm Gladwell saturation moments and realized I quirkyhad internalized all of these tropes and story arcs and plot devices and character conflicts. Then I realized I had about a million stories in my head. And then the top of my head sort of blew off like one of those Monty Python/Terry Gilliam illustrations:

Since that moment, romance novels have permeated every aspect of my life. I have some of the closest friendships I’ve ever experienced because I read a book and wrote a fan email and ended up meeting the person in real life and *POW* next thing I know I’m actually FRIENDS with people like Miranda Neville and Anne Calhoun. All these wonderful writers are also real people and—*cue spinning and singing “Love is all around” and quoting lines from Love, Actually*—it’s amazing.

Anyway, there’s a lot to celebrate! I’m finishing up my tenth book (or so) right now, and have also tried my hand at shorter form novellas and that sort of thing, so I have this incredible sense of artistic expression and transformation on a daily basis. I’m getting PAID to do this thing that I just…love. That’s crazy talk, right? But beyond all that, there are (drumroll please) readers. OH. MY. GOD. I get emails (I’m not inundated or anything, just saying) from people who have actually read my books and loved them and told me why they loved them and how my books made them HAPPY. See where this is going? It’s actually within our power as human beings to elevate someone’s mood, to make someone else—someone we’ve never even met, someone who might be going through a really shitty time—happy. I’m not sure I can think of a greater cause for celebration than that.

Thank you so much, Bobbi, for organizing this annual celebration so we can all remember why and how we came to this incredible genre!
Recommendations:
Instead of recommending new authors, I thought I’d recommend some of my old skool favorites. When I first came to the romance genre a few years ago, I was so grateful for reader-friends who directed me to these classic romance writers.  

Anne Hampson wrote the very first Harlequin Presents, Gates of Steel. Hampson, Anne Mather, and Violet Winspear are the holy trinity of vintage steelHarlequins. In some respects, these early books feel very much like cultural artifacts, but in other ways they are fresh and brisk: the language is incredibly spare and beautiful; the stories are told almost entirely from the heroine’s point of view; and they offer a soupçon of emotional cruelty that appeals to my more, er, twisted proclivities.

 

Betty Neels is what I like to think of as a rom palate cleanser. Her stories are squeaky clean on the surface, but the emotional depth and underlying power exchange between hero and heroine are subtle and satisfying.

 

Carole Mortimer…is my hero. I sat next to her at the big book signing at the Romantic Times convention in New Orleans in May and everything about her is charming and wonderful. After I meet writers in person, I always want to run out and read one of their books. OH MY GOD! Mortimer has written over 200 (and is still at it!), so there is a wide scope to choose from. Most recently I loved Uncertain Destiny (aka Eyepatch Hero, recommended to me by Jennifer at Romance Novel News). In some way, Mortimer’s books bridge the emotional gap between the early Harlequin Presents of Hampson/Winspear/Mather and the contemporary romances we enjoy today.

 


 Questions for the Author:

Describe the most daring, adventurous, inspiring thing you ever did:

I think by conventional standards of “daring adventure,” skydiving was the most adventurous thing I’ve ever done. I highly recommend it. Nothing in my life will ever match the rush of slowly-slowly-slowly leaning out of a propeller plane at 15,000 feet and then—WHOOSH—plummeting headfirst to earth. When death and life are that intimately entwined, it makes for a very inspiring experience. Oh, and the first time I let someone read my first manuscript—same feeling of terror and exhilaration.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer (did you always know or was there a specific moment):

A little of both I guess. I always knew I wanted to spend my life with the written word, but it took me a while to get around to fiction. When I was younger I wanted to be a restaurant and movie critic (because of what I imagined to be all the free eating and movie watching, of course. Protip: Nothing is free.). Then I wanted to be an editor, thinking that would be a cool way to be a part of the whole creative process (it was). Then I got into the physical reality of books and did a fairly intense bookbinding course and contemplated applying to a book arts graduate program. Then I decided I didn’t like having my true love (books) being a part of my occupation (dirty money). Cue hysterical laughter. So I got a business degree and worked for an investment bank. But as far as the actual writing of romance (after all the groundwork that I didn’t even really know was groundwork at the time: the reading, the editing, the books, the business degree) there was a specific moment…an ah-ha second when I was holding a beloved romance in my hand and thought, “I can do this. I want to do this. This is what I am meant to do!”

Tell us about THE book or A book that changed your life.

There were academic books that opened my mind (Virginia Woolf), changed the way I looked at the world (Alice Walker), made me feel things I never thought I could feel (Lionel Shriver)…but the book that actually changed my life was Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught. That was the book I was reading when I fell in love with romance novels—head over heels, palm tingling, heart racing, falling in love. I fell in love with reading them, fell in love with the idea of writing them. Now, whether Whitney was responsible for that epiphany or just the last straw tossed upon a lifetime of events that were quietly leading me there, I don’t know. But it was the actual reading of that book that somehow crystallized the realization in my mind. I no longer wondered what I would be when I grew up. I knew. I was a reader and writer of romance novels.

Megan Mulry is generously giving away a $50 Amazon gift card and a hard copy of the first Harlequin Presents, Gates of Steel by Anne Hampson.


mulryMegan Mulry writes sexy, stylish, romantic fiction. Her first book, A Royal Pain, was an NPR Best Book of 2012 and USA Today bestseller. Before discovering her passion for romance novels, she worked in magazine publishing and finance. After many years in New York, Boston, London, and Chicago, she now lives with her family in Florida. You can find her online at meganmulry.com

 

Buy Megan’s Books:

 

availableon-amazon  availableon-nookavailableon-kobo

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • Kathy Nye

    I envy you meeting Carole Mortimer. I have been reading her books since the early Harlequin Presents. It’s also nice to find another fan of Betty Neels. Thanks for a lovely essay.

  • MK

    What a fabulous post! I got some great ideas for early Harlequin reading too

  • TrishJ

    OMGoodness. I remember Anne Mather. I devoured her books. Haven’t thought of her in years. I was kinda a closet romance reader when I was young. My sisters and cousins made sooo much fun of me. But those romance books took me through lots of bad times, good times too, but the bad times were when I really needed the HEA and comfort those books gave me. I now proudly state I am a romance reader and have converted one of my sisters and my sister-in-law. Finally I have someone I can call and say .. you HAVE to read this book!

  • Fern Martin

    I haven’t read an Anne Mather book in many years but Whitney My Love is on the front of my book shelf. Well worn and loved like a long lost friend, it’s available when I need a comfort read. Bewitching by Jill Barnett and Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux are by it’s side. I don’t know how I have missed reading your books but that will be changed very shortly. Thank you for reminding everyone of those authors who helped to make romance stories what they are today.

  • Melissa Spencer Feehan

    Great essay!!! Judith mcnaught is my very favorite author, she changed my reading life for sure! Followed ofcourse by ELOISA JAMES AND JULIA QUINN!

  • Nancy Holland

    Great post, Megan! I’m another fan for vintage Harlequins. But I didn’t see anything about your new book, except the cover. Where can I find the blurb?

  • Sue G.

    I have never heard of molar pregnancy. Wow…glad you beat it. I’m glad you found your way to romance. To me they are just happy books. I love Jude Deveraux books…those Montgomery boys are my favorite!

  • LisaVH

    Your post made me feel giddy just reading it. I can totally feel your excitement and love for romance.

  • Anna

    Reading this was amazing – it was bright, and bubbly, and now excuse me while I go read all of your books. 🙂

  • Toni Linenberger

    Now I’m giddy. Too bad I have to work today instead of sneaking off to reread something wonderful!

  • cheryl c.

    I celebrate romance, too, because it is uplifting, entertaining, and satisfying. I must admit, though, that your epiphany book Whitney, My Love is not a favorite of mine. I know that most people adore it, but I did not care for some of the “events” in the book. I am glad, though, that it helped lead you into writing romances!

  • osborne601

    Whitney My Love was one of the books which made me love romances also! And I have always wanted to write but never actually took the steps to do so. I think you are inspiring me here!

  • mariannewestrich

    Love the Monty Python reference. That is actually how I picture the brain of my favorite authors. I just want to live in their brain for a while and visit with all the wonderful and insteresting people they have living there.

  • Meredith Richeson Hillenbrand

    I am so sorry that you had to go through cancer, however, I am happy that it started you on a whole new exciting phase of your life! I read a lot of genres, but romance is definitely one of my favorites! It is really great getting to know backgrounds of our favorite authors during this special month. It helps us to identify with you better and makes reading your books even more special.

  • Rita Wray

    I just read Whitney My Love again a couple of weeks ago. It is one of my favorites.

  • Patty Vasquez

    The visuals accompanying your essay are terrific! I agree Bobbi is to be congratulated for organizing and celebrating the romance genre. Thank you for using your talent as a writer to help us feel happy on a regular basis, too!

  • Erica H

    Your post was amusing and inspiring at the same time

  • Angee Bartlett

    I really enjoyed your narrative on finding “romance” books. It struck a chord. If I’m down, I read romance. If I’m up, I read romance. If I want to get depressed, I read “good” books. LOL!

  • Claire Gilless

    looks like we have similar tastes in authors – loved Whitney My Love as well.

  • Debbie Oxier

    I loved Anne Mather and Anne Hampson. Also loved Janet Dailey’ s American Harlequins. She wrote one set in every state!

  • Quinn Fforde

    What a fascinating path you took! Good post.

  • Sharon Forbes

    Very interesting article! It really made me think of why, I, too, lve my romance novels, it’s all about how they make you feel! I feel so happy and carefree when I’m engrossed in a great romance novel, an hour or two casn fly by, and I won’t even be aware of it, as I’m so happily involved in my romance novel! Many thanks to you, and all of the romance authors out there, who work to give us readers many, many hours of enjoyment and escape! We readers love you all for that! 🙂

  • Stephanie M.

    Thank you for the awesome post. Oh man, Whitney, My Love is a great book. I need to dig out my copy and read it again along with A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux. 🙂

  • Sandy Ridener Florence

    Reading this post made me think about what book made me fall in love with romance novels. I have read so many wonderful ones!

  • Laura Lee

    I have Bound to be a Groom and wanted to say how much I enjoyed the story. Definitely a different type of romance and the characters were so memorable. Glad you received that bag of romance novels!

  • Erica Mitchell

    Sounds good, I am going straight to goodreads.com.

  • LSUReader

    What an awesome post! (The Monty Python illustration is pretty cool, too.) Thanks for sharing with us during R-A-R Month. You’re a new author for me and I look forward to trying some of your books and recommendations.

  • Carin

    I remember when I started really reading romance! I won’t mention the books, because I really don’t like the series anymore, but, honestly, the cover still makes me smile!

  • Lorelei’s Lit Lair

    Yay, romance! Loved your essay Megan and btw, I think you and Kristan Higgins would have fun talking about medical anomalies. I haven’t read your books yet, but I;ll take care of that now 😉 Thanks for the chance to win!

  • Carol Burns

    LOL I remember reading Gates of Steel when I was 16 years old! My favorite Harlequin was Summer rainfall by Kerry Allyne… I don’t know how many times I read it. I have spent my life reading romance novels and chasing stories in my head. I think after RARM I may start putting some things down on paper… you make me realize I don’t want to wait until I have that “Aha” moment.. I should do it NOW!

  • Ren

    Loved the post. Thanks for sharing

  • Glenda

    Great post! You are much braver than I could ever be. No jumping out of airplanes for me! (MAYBE a visit to and iFly, but no planes). 😀

  • Ellen

    I love reading Carole Mortimer. How cool that you got to meet her. One of the best things about the RARM is getting to know a little more about the authors.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Julia Broadbooks

    On a regular basis I’m still giddy at the amazing women I’ve met in the romance community. I feel very lucky.

  • Barbara E.

    I was not a late bloomer, I’ve always loved to read and ran across Georgette Heyer’s romances in the library as a teenager. I was hooked and I’m been reading romance ever since – which is a very, very long time. 😀

  • Pam P

    Very uplifting post, Megan, your zeal for living and having fun shows. McNaught was one of the authors who got me more into historical romances, still a favorite genre today for me. When I was young and working 2 jobs but still couldn’t sleep at night, I’d devour those shorter Harlequins to relax.

  • Kelly

    Harlequin Romances were the first romances I read, too!! I think I went straight from Nancy Drew to Harlequin. (Of course, they were a lot tamer back then. lol)

  • LoriA

    I found those early Harlequin Presents by Anne Hampson, Anne Mather, and Violet Winspear in the library (along with Georgette Heyer and a whole lot of other authors). I grew up with romance novels; even when there was no clear genre in the bookstores, I loved books with romantic themes. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have found romance novels later, to wake up one day to a new world like that. Although there are a lot of books I haven’t read (some of them are sitting on my shelves ), I’ve been along for the whole wild ride. 😉

  • Amy Medeiros

    My mother’s Harlequins were one the first books I read 🙂 They’re most likely what got me into working at libraries to this day.

  • Yaritza Santana

    You are very brave. I won’ t skydive even if they paid me.

  • Patty Wilcox

    I know many people will want the gift card but I really want the book. (Really, it looks like one I have read and loved.)

  • Tin

    Whitney, My Love was also one of the first HR novels that I read! Such an intense story!

  • M Kuxhaus

    That cover for Roulette is amazing. You talk about Whitney, My Love and it just makes me think of Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss. Have you read it? It’s awesome, too.

  • Courtney Cogswell

    Oh, I loved the older Harlequins…I used to buy them from the used book stores and thrift stores for next to nothing and go through them so quickly. I love your essay and explanation of how you came to read, and subsequently write romance. I haven’t had a chance to check out your books yet, but after reading your words here I am looking forward to checking them out 🙂

  • Pamby50

    You have brought back so many memories. When I got sick 20 yrs ago & was told there was no cure, I had a pity party. That lasted till Pat, a co-worker brought me a bag of romance novels. I then hit the library. So Carole Mortimer, Anne Mather, Penny Jordan & many others. I just devoured them. Judith McNaught. When I spent 3 months in rehab getting my strength back, I just told people to bring me romance books. So here I am bucking the odds & still reading romance books.

  • Cindy A

    One of my earliest romance reads was Whitney My Love also. Thanks, sister-in-law!

  • WinnieP

    I remember these Harlequins. I would love to win the hard copy of Gates of Steel by Anne Hampson. Whitney My Love is new to me. I’m going to Amz now to check it out.

  • Lynn B

    I love hearing how people started reading romance novels. I started with gothic novels and Zane Grey books in high school. In college I read Georgette Heyer novels. Then I went onto regencies and historical novels. Over the past 45 years I have probably read all the various sub-categories of the romance genre. Whitney, my love will always remain one of my older favorites.

  • Marcy Shuler

    I loved reading this, Megan! I also fell for Whitney, My Love and still remember parts of it so well after all these years. I was wondering if your friend Dorothy takes any credit for your success? LOL

  • Thanks so much for being here Megan, and for this lovely essay. But I guess I don’t get to enter for that wonderful prize, do I? ;o)

  • Joan Varner

    Thank you for your post. You are so right about romance being a celebration.

  • Gloria Landavazo

    I love you romance novel story! I started reading romance after my grandfather passed away I use it as an escape

  • Gretchen Miller

    Just lovely

  • Stephanie Fredrick

    Beautiful post and so happy that you found romance when you did. I read a lot of thrillers and mysteries when I was young too and one day thought these are really depressing. So I went to the library and asked the librarian for a suggestion and she pointed me towards Nora Roberts and Eloisa James. I’ve been hooked ever since.

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    What a wonderful post!!! If your books are as good you will have another huge fan. I say that because you are a new to me author and I will be checking out your books.

  • Emmel

    I love how you fell hook, line, and sinker for romance!

  • Sheila M

    What a coincidence. I just got Uncertain Destiny in the mail and plan on reading it this weekend!

  • Bethany

    I definitely agree that meeting an author makes me want to read all her books!

  • Martha B

    Your essay for RAR was so full of joy, exuberance and fun. I felt like celebrating with you. I am cheering the fact you discovered romance novels regardless of the circumstances that made you open to them. For me, a brush with death made me (A) grateful for being alive. (B) VERY selective about books, movies and how I spend my free time. As my father-in-law says, “Why would I pay to see (read) someone else’s misery?” Good point. Enough said.

  • Mj

    It is always great to hear that you not only discovered romance but now you are creating your own books 🙂

  • Kavya Sangal

    I loved essay! I love Carole Mortimer’s books too!!

  • Michelle Fidler

    You’ve lived all over the place! I’ve only lived here in my hometown, Toledo. I’d never go skydiving, but if I wasn’t the nervous sort I’d try whitewater rafting or an indoor rock-climbing wall.

  • Dawn Anderson

    I’m also a late blooming romance reader. My first book was Jennifer Crusie’s Welcome to Temptation. I loved it so much that I bought every book of hers that I could find. Through her I learned about other authors like Susan Mallery and Lori Foster. Now, I am a true romance book junkie!

  • Erin F

    I’ve been lucky enough to be a romance reader since my teens 🙂 I had to sneak some of them home from the library but I remember stars in my eyes from all of the sweet romances! My tastes have definitely expanded since then so it’s a lot of fun to explore. Love Megan’s books!!! Thanks for sharing!

  • JanD

    I love Carol Mortimer’s books and skydiving is on my bucket list.

  • Laurie W G

    I’ve read most of Betty Neel’s stories. Love her English ladies and her Dutch doctors from The Netherlands or Freisland. I used to be an RN so I did enjoy her insight into the medical field and relationships. I love the PRESENTS line, Carole Mortimore ,Carol Marinelli, Cathy Williams and Helen Brooks too. I like Judith McNaught too, Once & Always, Paradise, Perfect and Whitney, My Love.

    I’m not familiar with the original Present’s author Anne Hampson. I would be honored to read her story, GATES OF STEEL.

  • Sharlene Wegner

    Hi Megan! I am a fan, as you know! Thanks for your uplifting essay! I just order Whitney from the library based on your recommendation.

  • Marie

    Thanks for your great post, Megan! I haven’t read “Whitney, My Love” before, and I am definitely going to give it a try based on your recommendation. I’m glad that your health has improved, as well. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us!

  • Chelsea B.

    Your post was lovely!

  • Ruth

    Thanks for your post. I know the feeling where there is just too much to read and not enough hours in the day.

  • Janie McGaugh

    Great post! Sadly, I still haven’t read Whitney, My Love, yet, though I keep hearing about it!

  • Sue Sattler

    After my oldest son passed away, I had a massive heart attack. Reading is my escape, no depressing books for me 😀 I have enough of that in my real life.

  • rebecca moe

    Real life is definitely depressing enough. Nothing but HEAs in my reading future, thank you!

  • Chanpreet

    You’re right. It’s often something like a molar pregnancy that leads to cancer that shakes us up. I’m sorry you had to experience that but also sort of glad in a way that it compelled you to write. :p

  • Judy Goodnight

    I remember reading those early novels by Hampson, Mather & Winspear. And it’s definitely time for a re-read of Whitney, My Love. Good stuff!