Writing Romance: It’s a Family Affair!
When most of us think of romance, we think of sweeping love stories between men and women (or women and women and/or men and men depending on what sub-genre of romance you prefer). The idea being that the word ROMANCE evokes a “Romantic Love” ideal that involves a growing sexual connection.
I’m here today not to dispel this notion but to add to it.
Romance involves intimacy, and the definition of intimacy is “shared fear”. Take a moment to think about your best friend. Most likely the two of you went through something together where you were both scared. That’s why you are so close! The same thing holds true for relationships inside of families. Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, there is so much shared fear in birthing and raising children, in watching them grow, in setting them free. I believe that the family bond is the most intimate relationship of all, and that’s why I write about it in all of my novels. My narratives are full of “Family Romance”. We all have a family, no matter how close or how far away emotionally or geographically, so it becomes a bond between the reader and the story. Something everyone can relate to.
If we look at the word romantic itself, it can be an atmosphere as well, a setting, so to speak. Beaches, architecture, almost anything can be romantic. Even a clothesline full of cotton nightgowns blowing back and forth on a gentle breeze does the trick. These are all romantic scenes that we use to create a background for our characters and their own romances.
To explore this idea, I’d like to give you a sample. I’m on the west coast of Florida right now and I woke up early (too early!), and sat on my Father’s front porch as the sun came up over the Sea Grape trees and swaggering Spanish Moss.
I’m only visiting, but I miss my father and my entire family that lives here every single day of my Yankee life. So I decided to write him a letter, even though I knew I’d see him in a hot second and drink a cup of coffee right there next to him. I did this for YOU, and I did it for ME, and I did it for him.
It doesn’t matter what happened before. It stopped mattering the moment you said, “I love you, Girl, but we gotta move on from all that crap if we want to get to know each other.” I was sixteen, but I heard you in my heart. If we’d looked at each other with grief, pain and regret for the rest of our lives, we’d never be able to fully love one another. And boy, do I love you. We’ve been “together” now far longer than we were ever apart and I want to let you know a secret.
This morning, I sat on your front porch and watched the sun come up. We’d been sitting out here last night having a conversation with each other underneath the conversation that we were having with your neighbors. Speaking that secret language that makes me feel like I belong to someone. Belonging has always been the key to my heart. Thank you for living here. Thank you for giving me green eyes and a sense of humor most people don’t understand.
Thank you for looking at me that way over the best gin and tonic I ever tasted. Because you said all the things with your eyes that you (and me too, because I belong to you), could never have said out loud.
The sun came up here on your dirt road, backwater street. The sun came up and my heart soared.
I adore you.
So there you have it, Romance between a father and his daughter. See? Romance IS a family affair!
Questions for Suzanne
What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?
An old wool blanket my father bought for my mother in the 70’s. It’s too thick and scratchy. Not to mention the several shades of drab tan it’s become over the years. When you don’t feel well, though? It’s HEAVEN.
If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?)
The film would be called “The Gravity of Loss” and PLEASE let Drew Barrymore play me. I mean, right?
What is the best non-monetary gift you ever received?
A kiss on my 25th Birthday. I’m not saying ONE MORE WORD about that. Ahem.
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?)
I suppose I may be reading this question wrong, so I’ll answer it two ways: Great Romantic scenes from MY books: In The Witch of Little Italy the scene where Anthony put’s his hand on Elly’s stomach and says…. SPOILER.
And in I’LL BE SEEING YOU, There’s this kiss against a shed… SPOILER. 🙂 If I’m answering about other books?
OH PLEASE just read Gone with The WInd. I mean, the whole thing is a romance. Not to be missed. Even if you saw the movie. Read the book!
Suzy is generously donating a copy of The Witch of Little Italy and two copies of I’ll Be Seeing You to give away to U.S. readers (apologies to international readers). 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 midnight EST Aug 8 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.
Suzanne Palmieri/Suzanne Hayes is the author of the The Witch of Little Italy (published by St. Martin’s Press in March 2013) and co-author of I’ll Be Seeing You (published by Mira in May 2013) with Loretta Nyhan (*posting tomorrow ~ B). She lives by the ocean in Connecticut with her husband and three darling witches and likes to go by the nickname Suzy (with a “y” always with a “y”). You can read more about Suzy at the website she shares with Loretta, suzyandloretta.com.