Nothing Like That Happy Ending
One of the questions romance writers get asked repeatedly is, “When are you going to write a real book?” Even some of my romance writing friends dream of writing women’s fiction or mystery/suspense someday.
Not me. I love writing romance.
Specifically, I love writing Regency Historical Romance. The Regency period takes place in England during the early 1800’s when George III went mad and his son was declared Regent. Jane Austen and Byron wrote during this time in history. Wellington vanquished Napoleon at Waterloo during this period. It remains an enduring favorite among readers. I love nothing better than reading and writing a Regency Historical, but I’m a fan of all romance fiction.
I’m not alone. Almost half of all mass market paperback books sold are romance novels; romance sales account for one third of all fiction sales. A love story obviously holds wide appeal.
One reason romance novels appeal, is that they are character-driven fiction. What the characters think and feel, and how they interact with each other are the most important elements of the story, more important than the events taking place around them. The reader is able to become intimate with the characters, is able to see into their very souls. This sort of examination of the human character exists in other literary forms, but in romance its emphasis is on a central and powerful life event, falling in love and committing oneself to another human being.
I love this focus on the romantic relationship, that heady, scary, joyous experience of falling in love. The first meeting, the initial attraction, the first kiss, first love scene—all of these create an irresistible thrill. It is a delight how romance authors recreate such moments with originality, diversity, and freshness, giving the reader that vicarious experience of falling in love over and over again.
In today’s romance novel, the heroine of the story is a strong woman, an equal match for an equally strong hero. Just as a football game is at its most edge-of-your-seat exciting when played by two teams of equal skill, so is the love story between a man and a woman of equal strength of character. That two people can remain strong and true to themselves and still commit to another creates a great story.
I love the hopefulness inherent in the romance novel. No love story would be complete without forces threatening to drive the lovers apart, some conflict that makes it appear impossible for them to wind up together in the end. When the hero and heroine overcome these obstacles it helps me believe that obstacles in my own life and my own relationships might also be overcome.
Love Transforms. That’s the message in romance novels. In a good romance, the hero and heroine are not the same at that end of their journey together as they were in the beginning. The love they give to the other alters them, changes them for the better, makes them grow as human beings. That is a powerful message of hope–To love makes us better people.
I adore a happy ending. My respectful apologies to Nicholas Sparks and others, but a love story that ends tragically always disappoints me. I’d like to kick Shakespeare for allowing Romeo and Juliet to die in the end when he might have saved them in the nick of time. The play might have ended with a wedding celebration and the unification of the feuding families. That would have been uplifting. I want that happy ending. I want those characters I’ve begun to care about to win in the end. To win what we all want to win, love and happiness.
Our world is full of depressing events, of man’s hatred, greed and cruelty, of death and destruction. When I read a book I want to escape those realities for a bit. I want to be reminded that there is another side of life. A loving side. A hopeful side.
The continued possibility of a happy ending.
I’m delighted to encourage readers to try reading Harlequin Historicals. Not only are there authors writing the Regencies that I love, but you can also find Westerns, Viking Romances, Medieval Romances, Chinese, Edwardian, and more. Just look at the August offerings:
Beguiled By Her Betrayer by Louise Allen (1801 Egypt and England)
Never Forget Me by Marguerite Kaye (1918 England and France)
Salvation In The Rancher’s Arms by Kelly Boyce (1800s American West)
The Rake’s Ruined Lady by Mary Brendan (Regency England)
Questions For The Author
1 – Describe the most daring, adventurous or inspiring thing you ever did.
I am not a very daring person. Not very adventurous. But when I first started writing, I very much wanted to succeed. Writing led me to do what for me were daring things. Attend writers meetings where I knew no one; travel on my own to Romance Conferences; introduce myself to people I did not know. This may not seem very adventurous to most people, but for an introvert like me it was really pushing myself.
2 – 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 knew?)
I was a mental health social worker in my former profession. When things got stressful and my colleagues and I used to sit around dreaming of other careers, I used to say that I’d like to sit in a turret and write romance novels. At that time I was just joking, but then I read a best-selling novel, a love story, and I thought it was the worst book I ever read. I thought any romance I’d ever read was a thousand times better than that book (which will remain nameless). I thought if that book could be a best-seller, maybe I could write a book. A friend of mine had gone back to school and spoke of taking a creative writing course at the community college. I signed up and started writing even before the class began.
3 – Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)
I read all those early historical romances, the ground-breaking ones by Kathleen Woodiwiss and Johanna Lindsey, but after I started writing, my friend Helen suggested I read traditional regencies and Georgette Heyer. Believe it or not, I had not read Georgette Heyer. Once I entered that world, I never wanted to leave. Now I don’t have to! I can spend all my days in Regency England! It was not one book that changed my life. It was an entire genre of books!
Diane is generously giving away two copies of A Lady of Notoriety, her July Harlequin Historical, to North American readers (entry below) and one copy of A Lady of Notoriety to international readers (enter here). (Canadian readers, you may enter this one on the page).
Diane Gaston’s dream job had always been to write romance novels. One day she decided to pursue that dream and has never looked back; she is now writing full-time. Her books have won Romance’s highest honours—the RITA Award, the National Readers Choice Award and the Golden Heart. She lives in Virginia with her husband and three very ordinary house cats. Diane loves to hear from readers and friends.
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