A Secret Affair?
Recently I met a group of women (it’s important for writers to meet with real people occasionally and not just fictional ones!) and one of them was telling us that just the week before she’d avoided a serious house fire because she’d been awake reading at 2am and smelled smoke. She’d left a candle burning downstairs and had she not acted quickly the consequences could have been serious. The other people in the group questioned her about the damage, which fortunately was minimal. My question was ‘what were you reading?’
I knew she had two very young children. For a mother of very young children to stay awake until 2am reading had to mean it was a good book. She blushed and said it was just a piece of ‘light rubbish’. I pointed out that the ‘light rubbish’ had kept her reading until the early hours and possibly saved her house from burning down and I’d really like to know what it was. She finally told me the title. It was a romance. This woman loved the book so much she chose to read it instead of sleep, but instead of saying to us ‘you have to read this book, it was so amazing’, she was embarrassed and uncomfortable about admitting she’d read it. Why? Because this was a group of women who didn’t know each other and she was afraid of being judged negatively.
I have a friend who is addicted to historical romances. She reads them while commuting into London, but because she is afraid of being judged she slides the book inside a literary work she’s never actually read and never intends to read.
Society dismisses romance as unimportant, but what is more important than human relationships? Like many writers I’ve received numerous letters from readers telling me my books have comforted them in hard times and made them smile. Romance fiction gives women strength and courage. It can provide inspiration and lift you up when times are hard. A good book can be a friend, an escape and a teacher. Through a romance you can indulge in a love affair with no consequences and journey to foreign lands (without airport queues).
Do I mind that sometimes people read my books in secret? No, I don’t. We don’t all want conflict in every part of our lives and I want my books to be a source of entertainment, not stress. I’d rather be the author a reader is addicted to in secret than the author of the book that sits on the shelf to impress visitors but is never picked up. That’s a boring life for a book. I want my books to feel loved, wanted and needed. I’m happy when my backlist fills someone’s ereader. I’m happy to be the author of a book that’s crushed into a bag and brought out in times of anxiety, stress or simply because the owner needs a moment to herself before dealing with real life. I want my books to have curled up corners because they’ve been read so many times (you should see my copy of Nora Roberts’ Northern Lights!).
Read romance in public or in private, I don’t care, but if you’re up at 2am reading a book because you can’t put it down, email me privately and let me know the title. I want to read it too.
Questions for the Author
What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?
A strange shaped pot (I think it’s supposed to be a pot) made for me in a pottery class by my son when he was four. I have no idea what it was meant to be but I love it and it has pride of place on my windowsill.
If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?)
The Writer Wears Prada Pajamas.
Starring Emily Blunt as Sarah Morgan.
Pajamas by Victoria’s Secret.
What is the best non-monetary gift you’ve ever been given?
Love. And also my children (although my husband smiled when he read this and asked if I’ve ever added up how much they’d cost us since they were born)
If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be?
I’d pick Damon and Polly from my 2012 RITA winning book Doukakis’s Apprentice. And I’d read the scene when they arrive in Paris.
Which author are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading books by Carol Marinelli, Ruthie Knox and Nicola Cornick. (*All three authors also provided R-A-R M content. You can find the post from Ruthie Knox here, Nicola Cornick’s here and Carol Marinelli’s here – with thanks to the IHeartPresents blog for hosting it!)
You are reading this essay at ReadARomanceMonth.com. Be sure to visit the About Read-A-Romance Month to learn more, or the Authors & Contributors page to see a list of all the great romance writers who are participating in celebrating the romance genre during the month of August. Also visit the Awesome Contests page to see how you can register each week to win “A Month of Romance” (31 books), e-readers, and even the Grand Central Grand Prize, an iPad mini. If you love romance, then this is the place to be!
Sarah has generously donated a copy of her next Harlequin Presents release, LOST TO THE DESERT WARRIOR to give away (international okay). To enter, 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 1 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.
USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes hot, happy contemporary romance and her trademark humour and sensuality have gained her fans across the globe. She has been nominated three years in succession for the prestigious RITA© Award from the Romance Writers of America and has won the award twice, in 2012 and 2013. She also won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award and has made numerous appearances in their ‘Top Pick’ slot. As well as writing for Harlequin Presents, her first full length novel, Sleigh Bells in the Snow will be published by HQN in October and Ripped, her first title for the Cosmo Red Hot Reads from Harlequin programme will be out in November. Sarah lives near London, and when she isn’t reading or writing she loves being outdoors, preferably on vacation so she can forget the house needs tidying. She loves chatting with readers by email and on Facebook and Twitter.
Buy Sarah’s Books Online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble