The Joy of Happy Endings
I get a lot of mail. It’s all different but a common theme from my readers gives personal testimonies of what the stories do for them. “I was going through a very rough patch and fell into your stories, which brought me happiness and peace of mind.” Those ‘rough patches’ are described as anything from illness to job loss to death of someone dear. But the Rx was always the same – a little time away from the hard times, escape into a gentler place, a place guaranteed to bring a happy ending. Another very common theme comes from readers who say that they knew exactly how a character I’d written about felt – and that could be because they had also lost a spouse or child, sent a family member off to war or welcomed them home again, fell in love or had love fail them or been the victim of some sort of abuse and had to escape. And a favorite message says, “I love your books, and just so you know, my one true love is just like Jack Sheridan/Preacher/Luke Riordan, etc.”
When National Read A Romance Month asked me to tell them “Why Romance” in 700 words or less my first thought was only 700 words? I could write a book on why we write or read romance! Romance readers are the most hopeful people I know. They want characters who can serve as role models for what makes a healthy, strong, enduring relationship. They want to observe what to avoid in relationships because in our stories the bad people, the abusive, careless, unfeeling and mean heroes are rejected in favor of caring, loving, trustworthy men. That goes for women as well – the mean, manipulative, narcissistic and selfish characters lose in favor of honesty, decency, kindness and devotion. I regularly get letters that say, “I didn’t know how toxic my relationship was until I read about so-and-so and it became so clear – I had to free myself and I’m happy for the first time in many years.” I write back a note of congratulations because above all our heroes and heroines take control of their lives and demand good treatment. They do not settle for crumbs.
Our readers see our characters from the inside out and nothing gets by them. There are no excuses. Even the most troubled must rise to the occasion if they intend to win the day; they have to come to grips with their problems in healthy and intelligent ways, overcome the more cruel blows life offers up and in the end, deserve the love they win. True love isn’t cheap, easy, fast or won by half measures – it is pure, honest, kind and memorable. And our characters do have problems! Novels are about conflict and in romance and women’s fiction the conflicts are not limited to romantic troubles. No, sir. Authentic, real life challenges get in the way of happiness, just like every day in our readers’ lives. And with the solutions to those problems comes the reward of peace and happiness.
Romance comes in all shapes and sizes from the adventurous and/or erotic, gentle and sweet, suspenseful, historical, futuristic, mysterious, paranormal – you name it. Readers can always feed their love of any genre and romance. There are two writers, very different in style, you might like to try. Marie Bostwick writes an elegant, lovely romance, sometimes with a quilting theme in the background. And go to Robin Covington for a hotter, sexier read. I like them both and am having fun watching these two writers grow.
Questions for Robyn
What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?
Add useless to that and it is The Treadmill. And why do I keep it? Because tomorrow I’m going to take the clothes off of it and get on it!
If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?)
Anything Is Possible and would probably star Carol Burnett.
What is the best non-monetary gift you ever received?
The most wonderful non-monetary gift I ever received was, beyond doubt, my children and though they were definitely conceived for free, they became very expensive over time.
If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be? (Any picks for romance novels in general?)
My favorite romantic couple I’ve ever had the joy of writing about were Mel and Jack from Virgin River – I was invited to watch them grow from new love into a married couple who re-examined and renewed their commitment at every turn, just like the rest of us have to do.
Now get out there, pick up a romance and grab a fist full of adventure, love, laughter and tears and experience the fullness of all that life can be.
Robyn is generously donating one Thunder Point beach bag filled with autographed copies of the first three books in the series. No international sorry. To enter the domestic contest, 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 11:59pm EST Aug 13 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.
Robyn Carr is a RITA® Award-winning, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of more than forty novels, including the critically acclaimed Virgin River series. Robyn and her husband live in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can visit Robyn Carr’s Web site at www.RobynCarr.com.