Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What is Going on in My Brain?

So, there I am, writing and writing and writing.  But what am I writing and why? 
They are romances.  Even though I don't read romances.  Nope, haven't really read any in years, and only read  Jennifer Crusie and Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters at that.  None of the other big names, none of the special genres like paranormal or urban fantasy (new terms I learned at the end of last year!  Still haven't read very many of them.  I just find it impossible to suspend disbelief about vampires or werewolves  being attractive.  Kill or be killed is my philosophy!). 
But for some reason the structure of the romance appealed to the novice writer in me.  Your characters were clear; two protagonists, hopefully evenly matched, go through adventures and misunderstandings and angst and in the end find each other.  There is the structure of a book right there; I just had to fill in dialogue and setting and characters.  I didn't have to come up with some amazing twisty-turny plot or dense, moody mystery or massive family saga with ten generations.  And when I am writing at the planning desk in my kitchen as I am making dinner, doing laundry, and entertaining a child, two people falling in love is about all I can manage.
And I was initially reluctant to admit, even to myself, that I was writing romances because I had that stereotypical attitude that they weren't 'important'.  Perhaps that's why I never talked about my work, or had anyone read anything, because I was a little embarrassed about it.  Here I was, a person who was happy to do original historical research on the 1918 influenza pandemic writing about kissing and flirtatious chatter.  There had to be a reason for it, didn't there? 
So in the interest of research I started reading all sorts of romances, just to discover what all the fuss was about because along with the conventional wisdom that romances are not 'important', I was also aware that there were a lot of them being published.  A lot.  I went to some websites and started to note recommended books and like the good little researcher I am I started reading. And reading.  And reading. 
Some I liked, some didn't appeal, and some I loved.  Which surprised me because before I made a concerted effort to read romances, I would have classified myself as a pretty solid mystery/thriller/suspense reader with a side dish of science.  Preston and Child, Michael Crichton, Nelson DeMille, Lee Child, Caleb Carr; those were my go to authors. 
So that set up an interesting dichotomy in my mind; my long-standing appreciation of very male-centric fiction versus a very recent foray into female focused fiction.  More on that in my next post.

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