Day 7 Suzanne Brockmann – Comfort and Discovery

Romance: Something for Everyone

The romance genre is so huge and varied, it seems there’s not just a book but an entire subgenre for each individual reader.

The more we read, the more we discover the types of books we love — and we use reader recommendations to find more of (nearly) the same. Slowly but surely, over time, we find our comfort zones in the subgenres we love to read.NIGHT SKY Brockmann

Or write.

I mostly write contemporary romance that falls into the “romantic suspense” subgenre. Specifically, I write military-action-adventure-romantic-dramadies.

Part of the reason I write in this subgenre has to do with expectations. I am relentlessly encouraged, by readers and publisher alike, to deliver more of the same.

But I also write military-action-adventure-romantic-dramadies because that’s what I know and love — it’s in my writing comfort zone.

But as a reader? Most of the time I avoid books with military heroes. I get my fill when I’m writing, thanks. For pleasure reading, I prefer heroes who are dukes or the sons of earls — or wealthy high school debutants living in the deep south, targeted by a serial killer. (More about that, below)

When I read, I want to escape into a world that is vastly different from mine — both my real life, and the fictional one in which my Troubleshooters series is set.

I want to slip into the skin of a stranger, and temporarily live a life that takes me outside of everything I know and allows me to walk a mile — or a thousand — in another’s shoes.

I want new-to-me experiences.

Sometimes I fear that the very thing I most often celebrate about romance — the multitude of different subgenres — also allows us, as readers, to stay secure and unchallenged inside of the comfort zones of the very safe worlds that we know.

And I’m not talking “world-building” world. In my opinion, a reader who only reads paranormals is potentially just as isolated as a reader who only reads Regency-era historicals.

Let me be clear: My intention here is not to disparage the value of the comfort read. We all need books that provide us with relief, consolation, relaxation, and ease. But just as there are times we reach for a comfort read, shouldn’t we also recognize that we can benefit from a “discomfort” or a “personal-challenge” read — a book that takes us outside of our comfort zone and tests or stretches us in some way?

I know that I’m too-often guilty of not reading outside of the subgenres I know and love. (And to those of you who frequently include personal-challenge reads in your TBR pile, bravo! Well done. This message is a reminder to those of us who have settled back into our personal place of safety to be more like you.)

Today, in honor of Read-A-Romance Month, I urge everyone to read a romance from well outside of your tried-Do or Dieand-true favorite subgenres.

Go wild, and read a romance from a sub-genre you’ve never thought to try.

Or be even more daring, and read that book everyone’s raving about, from a sub-genre that you’ve already tried and rejected as being “not for you.”

Pick an author you’ve never read. Pick a book with characters who live in a different time or place; read about people who don’t share your skin color or religion or orientation; read about characters who are from a different culture, country, or society.

I had an interesting experience with the TV show Friday Night Lights. I was certain that FNL wasn’t for me — a show about high school football set in deeply religious Texas…? Yeah, thanks, I have nothing in common with that sports-centric world, and I have other things to do with my time. But friends kept urging me to watch. Finally I did, and to my delight, I discovered that I had way more in common with the football-worshiping people of Dillion, Texas, than I ever could have imagined. And my life is better for having walked in their shoes.

So stretch and challenge yourselves as readers, and I promise, as a writer, that from time to time I’ll do the same.

Happy reading!

Recommendations: I’ve recently rediscovered my love for category romance with the vividly written, delightful books by Farrah Rochon. Many of her stories are set in Louisiana with fascinating characters who live and breathe and come alive on the page. A prolific writer, Farrah’s got a number of series for readers who love connected books, including her New York Sabers football series, and the Holmes Brothers. I’m currently glomming (and loving!) her Bayou Dreams series.

YA paranormal superstar Melissa Marr leaves her own comfort zone with her first young adult romantic suspense, Made for You, available on 9/16/14. I had the pleasure of reading an ARC of this amazing thriller, which is set in the strange and exotic-to-me world of wealthy southern debutantes. With smart female characters, a serial killer, the town bad boy, and parents who aren’t idiots — Made for You is a beautifully written, fast-paced and thoroughly entertaining read.

Questions for the Author:

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

I made a movie! I co-wrote and co-produced a sweet little romantic comedy indie movie called The Perfect Wedding with my husband and son — and a crew and cast of over fifty other people, including actors Kristine Sutherland (Buffy’s mom) and the late James Rebhorn (Homeland). Miraculously, we found distribution, and the movie is currently available on Netflix on demand, and also on DVD. (Find it on Amazon and!)

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

I’d been writing screenplays and TV scripts for several years, and after a particularly awesome rejection from a Hollywood agent (in which he said he’d rep me if I moved to LA, but I was living outside of New York City at the time with two kids in diapers, so…), I decided to try my hand at writing genre fiction. I did a ton of research, and focused on contemporary category romance. I prepped for the story by outlining in the same way as I would for a script. When I finally sat down to write, I was maybe ten or fifteen pages in when I realized that I’d found the perfect format for my writing voice. It was over twenty years ago, but I remember that moment as if it were yesterday. In fact, I ran around the house actually shouting “Eureka!”

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

Back in the summer of 2001, early in my career, I read Virginia Ellis’s historical romance, The Wedding Dress, while I was out on the road alone, promoting my books. This haunting yet hopeful story, set in the south in the years immediately following the Civil War, is of a young war widow who finds love again. I read this book at a time when I needed to be reminded why I write romance. I remember sitting in my hotel room thinking, “If my books can touch even just one reader the way this just touched me…. That’s exactly why I write.”

Suzanne is generously offering a signed advanced copy of Night Sky, as well as a signed hardcover copy of DO OR DIE. Domestic only, apologies to international readers. (She promises to make it up to international fans soon!)

Brockmann-5bOver the past twenty years, New York Times bestselling romance author Suzanne Brockmann has written fifty-five novels, including her award-winning Troubleshooters series about Navy SEAL heroes and the women—and sometimes men—who win their hearts. In addition to writing books, Suz has co-produced a feature-length romantic comedy movie, The Perfect Wedding, which she co-wrote with her husband, Ed Gaffney, and their son, Jason. She has also co-written Night Sky, her first YA novel set in the world of her paranormal Fighting Destiny series, with her daughter Melanie. Find Suz on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and visit her website to find out more about upcoming releases and appearances.

Buy Suz’s Books:

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