I hope you’ll visit ReadARomanceMonth.com every day in August to see what all 93+ authors have to say about the Joy of Romance.
Do you love Romance? Let’s celebrate. xo
The Joy of Realism in Romance
The theme for Read-A-Romance Month 2015 is “The Joy of Romance.” When talking to Bobbi, our wonderful host, she bubbled about the joy of discovering romance, raised in a household of scholars. It was a joy listening to her talk. (Yes, Bobbi, I am gently having fun with you. Please don’t be upset. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support of authors and romance!)
But honestly, “joy” is such a subjective term. I sometimes wonder if our love of romance—rather than romance, itself—might not be a deterrent to would-be readers. For example, when I think of joy, I think of precious puppies that never pee on the carpet, mischievous-but-never-malicious children laughing, forever-young women spritzing perfume, and chronically fit men tossing back a beer. You know, the images corporations spend billions of dollars creating in the hope we’ll buy their product, so that we, too, may experience “joy.”
But I don’t think romance is about “joy.” I’m not even sure it’s about romance. The definition of romance, after all, lies in the throbbing, beating heart of the reader and not between the stale, passionless pages of a dictionary. That truth was forcibly brought home when a woman definitively commented on a popular message board that my novel The Lady’s Tutor was not a romance because the heroine’s son is sexually traumatized. This reader didn’t feel that controversial or disturbing subject matters belong in a “romance.” How could anyone, she wrote, ever be happy after going through sexual trauma, let alone reading about it?
This reader wanted precious puppies that don’t pee. She wanted mischievous-but-never-malicious children. She wanted the fantasy of romance.
And those types of romance novels exist. But should they define the genre?
Because that’s not my version of romance. Truthfully, if that’s how romance was promoted to me and I had never before read the genre, I wouldn’t touch it.
I want reality in my romance. I don’t believe that reality—surviving abuse, turning fifty/sixty/seventy/eighty, enduring hardship—strips us of the ability or the right to experience happiness. If anything, it makes it that much sweeter, because it’s not handed to us on the proverbial silver platter. Even Cinderella suffered before finding her prince.
The essence of romance is very simple: it’s not fantasy, it’s not joy, it’s…love. And that is the conundrum. In life and literature we are taught that romantic love is secondary to family and social responsibility. Look at what happened to poor Anna Karenina, Amber St. Clare (Forever Amber), and even Juliet. They died. And why? Because they chose romantic love that made them laugh with life and burn with happiness and hopefully fueled a few good orgasms along the way, instead of engaging in staid, proper, family-and-societal sanctioned behavior. If scholarly literature had a logo, I’m sure it would read: the only good love is a dead love.
So really, in conclusion, I think romance is negated (aside from the fact that it’s mostly written by women, but that’s another battle) because it’s conceived by naysayers as being joyfully unrealistic—like billion-dollar commercials—because our characters find lasting love. Yet many, many people…average, run-of-the-mill people like you and me…find enduring love with a companion (Don and I just celebrated our 40th anniversary), so to claim that “happy endings” are unrealistic is, well, unrealistic. And I want that realism, both as a woman, a reader and a writer.
What do you want in romance? And how would you promote romance without sacrificing its wonderful diversity?
Connie Suttle – subtledemon.com
Rebecca Ethington – rebeccaethington.com
Patti Larsen – pattilarsen.com
Questions for the Author:
Tell us about a moment in your life when you experienced sheer joy.
Okay, this isn’t one of my better moments, I’m sure, but… Every year my marketing firm held a big dinner at a snazzy restaurant downtown Chicago. One Christmas Eve—a few months after my husband and I bought a home in the ‘burbs—a bunch of us didn’t want to quit partying, so we went bar hopping along the Gold Coast on Michigan Avenue. I got pretty wasted. All I could think about when I got to the Union (train) Station was that Don had already caught an earlier train, and I would have to ride home alone with no one to PARTEE with. I wanted him to be at the train station so badly that I thought I conjured him, because sure enough, there he was standing at a mini-bar buying a drink to take on the train.
Most recently, in April I experienced another surge of pure joy when La Femme de Gabriel (Gabriel’s Woman) appeared on an Amazon.com bestseller list side by side with a reissue of Catherine by Juliette Benzoni. You see, the original novel was translated into English when I was 15 and much loved by me. Never, ever in a billion years did I imagine when reading Ms. Benzoni way back then that I would someday write a book that would be translated into French and appear right beside her world-blazing bestseller, Catherine.
Tell us about a place that brings you joy, or is attached to a memory of joy.
Bad Hamburg, Germany. There was a brick courtyard outside the hotel where Don and I stayed that featured a huge water fountain. We would escape there whenever we could for breakfast, lunch or just a cup of coffee while the peaceful sound of splashing filled our hearts and the cool spray of water refreshed our spirits.
Tell us about a sound that brings you joy.
Wind chimes. Love them. Once I hung one outside our bedroom window. Huge mistake, because it’s windy where we live, and they became…while melodic…very noisy. However, I will never forget one night when the wind suddenly died yet I could hear the vibration of the windsong for hours afterward. It was as if a window in space and time had opened up outside our bedroom, where the wind still blew and the chimes still sang.
What recent book have you read that brought you joy. (Or a book you read in your life that brought you so much joy you’ve never forgotten it.) Why?
Hmm… I’m not sure what you mean by a book bringing joy. I’ve read books that brought life-changing revelations (OBEDIENCE TO AUTHORITY by Stanley Milgram), and books that will always be a part of me because of deep emotions they evoke or because of the history they paint or the timeless characters they introduce. BLOOD GAMES by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro captivated me with all those qualities. It’s an amazing piece of writing with the added bonus of having a “happily ever after” ending.
And for fun, the joy of choice ~
Pick your Chris! Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, Chris Rock, Chris Evans or Christopher Plummer (circ. 1964 aka Capt. Von Trapp?) – trying for a little diversity! ;o)
Holy bovine! I had to google every Chris except for Christopher Plummer. Chris Hemsworth was certainly worth looking for. Very nice!
Robin is generously giving away 3 print copies of The Lady’s Tutor for U.S. readers. For international readers, she is giving away 3 e-books of A Lady’s Pleasure. Entry forms below – international friends, use the international giveaway form. Good luck!
USA Today Bestselling Author Robin Schone is published in 13 countries and has been honored with the Romantic Times Career Lifetime Achievement Award for Most Innovative Historical Romances. Scandalous Lovers, her first novel in The Men And Women’s Club series, was chosen by RUSA (Reference & User Services of the American Library Association) as one of five books to represent the “wide range of historical fiction in romance. Robin Schone writes sensual, explicit stories…about characters who are frequently older and less beautiful than most romance protagonists. Her history is impeccable; the storytelling is straightforward but emotionally driven.” Robin loves her readers. Their kind letters kept her going after she had a heart attack and subsequent heart transplant. She also loves music, books, coffee and chocolate. And Don, her husband of 40 years.
Buy Robin’s books: