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A quick word from Bobbi Dumas, your host.
Hi everyone! Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month. You can find out more about this fun, month long event here. And check out all the great authors taking part this year on the calendar, here.
The theme this year is The Romance Of Reading, The Magic Of Books and we have an awesome assortment of writers – both romance and mainstream fiction authors – sharing about books, reading, romance & magic. I hope you’ll visit everyday.
(Also, be sure to check in to The Romance Of Reading FB page, where one of the RARM authors will be hosting the page each day in August. Today Karen Hawkins will also be on the page.)
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Jennifer Trethewey – Reading Romance Is Bliss
I’m no longer secretive about reading or writing romance. Because reading romance isn’t a guilty pleasure. Reading romance is bliss. I like reading about women who are unapologetically themselves. Women who march through life with a goal. Women who believe they are worthy of love and won’t accept anything less than an equal partnership. There should be nothing magical or unrealistic about those things.
I have some extremely “highbrow” friends and relatives who laughed when I told them I was writing romance novels until they realized I was serious. They laughed because someone, at some point in their lives, told them the lie that people who read romance novels could not be taken seriously, or that romance novels were second rate fiction, or that they were nothing more than fantasy, unrealistic, poorly written, and predictable. Predictable? Seriously? Did you think Poirot wasn’t going to solve the mystery? They adopted phrases like “lady porn” and “bodice ripper” and joined the scornful elite who considered literary fiction the only fiction worth their time. What’s most astounding is that they believed all these lies never having read a romance in their lives.
But here’s the truth. Romance readers read twice as many books as other readers. They read all kinds of genres. Romance readers are educated, earn good money, and come from all age groups, cultures, and every state in the union. Romance drives the publishing industry. The romance genre is the largest earning of all genre fiction. Romance novels reflect the social norms of the time. The history of the romance novel is inextricably linked to the women’s movement, at once being influenced by women’s changing roles and advancing women’s roles. Romance is one of the few industries in which women are the top earners.
What the literary elite don’t know, what they deprive themselves by ignoring the romance genre, is the satisfaction of a happy ending. Which, of course, is very sad.
What romance readers know is, at the end of the day, after weathering all the realities that life throws at us, after we endure an impossible supervisor, after we battle traffic, after we pay bills we can scarcely afford, after we make dinner, put the kids to bed, and toss another load of laundry in the washer, we deserve to sit with a book that reminds us of our potential. We see ourselves in the characters, our strengths, our weaknesses. And we are reminded that we, like the characters in the novel, deserve to be loved by someone, however imperfect, who accepts us exactly as we are. We deserve our own happily ever after.
And that, to me, is the magic of reading romance.
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Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels is my all-time favorite Regency. It’s what I return to again and again when I need to be inspired. Kate Reading is an outstanding narrator.
Sarah Maclean has no match when it comes to witty, rakish dukes with Teflon egos and laugh out loud stories. Narrator Mary Jane Wells is pitch perfect.
I am a HUGE fan of paranormal and Laurann Dohner kicks everyone else to the curb with her New Species series. Also, Vanessa Chambers’s narration is fantastic.
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2019 RARM Questions:
Tell us about a time in your life that felt magical to you.
Right after college, my girlfriend and I backpacked around Europe for a month. As kids who led very sheltered lives, it was the first time either of us had been truly on our own (although, dad did give me a credit card to use for “emergencies”). It was an eye opening, mind blowing experience to trek through different countries, meet new people, eat strange food, visit ancient ruins, and tour castles and palaces we’d only ever seen in picture books or on television. But to see the art, those works by the masters, was a visceral experience like no other. I remember climbing the stairs of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The first painting that came into view was that iconic self-portrait. My entire body flushed with emotion. I couldn’t talk or move because I was so in awe, so amazed that I was actually standing in front of the painting and seeing it with my own eyes. That was just one of many magical and moving experiences I had on that memorable trip.
Tell us about a book that was magical for you.
When I was learning to read, my folks bought me a collection of children’s classics like Robinson Crusoe, Hans Brinker, and Alice in Wonderland. My absolute favorite was Heidi. I wanted to be Heidi. I wanted to live with her grandfather in the mountains. I named my dog Heidi. I played make-believe Heidi games. I starred as Heidi, of course, and my playmates were given secondary roles. For at least a year and a half, I was all about Heidi. Heidi was magic to me.
Tell us about a “magical moment” in your writing or your career?
I don’t know if this is magic but the stars definitely aligned for me. In 2015, I won a critique of my first 2500 words from an agent. She was very complimentary and said I should let her know when I finished. I thought she was being nice. People in publishing are quite nice, I’ve found. Later that year, I received word that my story placed in a writing contest and that one of the judges, an editor, asked to see the entire manuscript. The next day, the nice agent lady emailed me and asked how my novel was progressing. “Funny you should ask,” I said. Fast forward five months, I signed with that agent, Cassie Hanjian, and with the editor, Erin Molta at Entangled Publishing. Was that luck or magic?
For writers who use magical aspects in their books, what attracts you to those elements? For those of you who don’t, are there specific themes or elements you’re attracted to and find yourself going back to? Why do these resonate with you?
I write Highland romance and, although there is no time travel or beings with supernatural powers, there is a character in the Balforss series who has “the sight.” Declan Sinclair has dreams about the future and, according to him, his dreams never lie. It’s a fun way to foreshadow and create tension. Plus, I adore Declan, the sweetest and most lethal of all the Sinclair men. One of the things I find so engaging about Scotland and its history is the lore. When I’m writing, it comes into play occasionally when the last best explanation for something is, “Must be the fairies.”
Creativity is a kind of magical experience. What inspires you, keeps you going, helps you when you lose focus, etc.?
Unlike so many of my writer friends who started telling stories as soon as they could hold a pencil, I came late to the party and in a round-about way. I spent the better part of my adult career telling other people’s stories on stage. There is something undeniably magical about theater. Actors and directors give life to words written on flat pieces of paper and when the alchemy is right, audiences are transported into the world on stage. When I write, I picture the characters and how the scenes would play out under lights and try to recapture that stage magic I have always loved.
DRAWING – Jennifer is hosting The Romance of Reading page, and her giveaways will take place there.
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Jennifer Trethewey’s Highlanders of Balforss series features brawny Scots, sweeping romance, and non-stop adventure all laced with a liberal dose of humor. Her foundation for story-telling is grounded in her long career in theater as co-founder and former co-artistic director of Renaissance Theaterworks, one of the most successful and longest running women’s theater companies in America. As an actor-turned-writer, she has moved her performances from the stage to the page and invites you to enjoy the drama of the Scottish Highlands in Tying the Scot, Betting the Scot, Forgetting the Scot, and most recently, Saving the Scot.
Discover all of Jennifer’s books:
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