Thanks so much to Elizabeth for hosting me! Today I’m talking about how I define the romance in my writing.
As many writers have said, one of the first questions people ask when you tell them you are a writer is, “what do you write?” My standard response is “non-traditional romantic fiction.” Kind of a mouthful, but it does raise curiosity. Once I get them hooked with that, and make clear that I’m not talking Harlequin or 50 Shades of Irresponsible Writing, that’s usually when I drop the other shoe – I write about guys. Together!
So the “non-traditional” part of my statement can refer to the m/m thing, but there’s more to it than that. I specify “romantic fiction,” as opposed to “romance.” Romance writing doesn’t have the greatest reputation. It’s usually seen as highly formulaic with underdeveloped, weak characterization and terribly forgettable plotlines. And ludicrous covers, let’s not forget those.
I give a very strong focus to characters in my writing. More than anything, I want my characters to come across as real and I make sure they’ve all got their own unique voice. Even my minor characters are “people” to me, each with his or her own story (whether we get to know that story or not). None of them are “superheroes” or in any way perfect. They’ve all got flaws, worries, and/or doubts.
As for the romance, it’s important, of course. But it’s not necessarily the only thing. The problems my characters face are generally from outside the relationship. It’s the relationship they rely on when everything else in their world has gone pear shaped. But they also learn to rely on themselves and friendships outside their relationship. Sort of an “it takes a village” thing. In social work theory, we call it the person-in-environment approach. No one is an island.
Most often, my romance deals with long-term, established couples. This is obviously going to be a different definition of romance than the boy-meets-boy bit. These guys are less often worrying about where they’re going for dinner to impress their date and more often seen cuddling on the couch with a take-away.
“…when we used to sit at the kitchen table on Saturday mornings, drinking tea and talking about the weekend’s plans. From when we used to curl up on the couch with take-away and a movie on Fridays after work.” (Sins of Another)
“The way he used to wrap an arm around my shoulders and lean in to kiss my jawline, while reaching into my stir-fry to pluck out those little miniature corn bits. I don’t particularly like them anyway and would just give them to him, but Nick liked to think he’s distracting me with romance.” (Sins of Another)
Are they stuck in a rut, settled, boring? Not hardly. They still get out and have plenty of fun, both as couples and as individuals. They have a different view of romance, one that is less hearts-and-flowers and more comfort and acceptance. One that prefers loose pyjama bottoms and thin t-shirts to tight trousers and shiny shirts.
“I can spend time with my mates without ringing Nick every hour, or he can join us and my mates don’t have to feel like third and fourth wheels. Our relationship is healthy because we love and trust one another explicitly.” (Sins of Another)
“It was tough enough to concentrate properly on cooking with Tyler walking around in those low-slung pajama pants and a T-shirt so thin Kevin could just get a hint of Tyler’s dark-chocolate nipples. He was certain that his boyfriend knew exactly what effect he was having.” (Possession)
And they are definitely still hot for one another!
“Tyler’s fingertips under Kevin’s strong chin brought their lips together. It wasn’t long before it was more tongues than lips, and not long after that before Tyler was rolling onto his back and all but dragging Kevin on top of him, his hands greedily roaming his lover’s chest.” (Possession)
“I step close to give him a hug, wondering if it’s not going to be a bit awkward. It is, but for only second, and then it feels just like it always did holding him – right. We still fit together just the same.” (Sins of Another)
“…he’s been the arms that aren’t afraid to hold me close and the lips that aren’t afraid to kiss me. And yes, the hand that isn’t afraid to touch me intimately. I never thought it would be important to feel sexually desirable at this point in my life, but Nick makes me feel like I’m still porn-star hot. The feeling is quite mutual.” (Sins of Another)
There are all sorts of definitions of romance. For me, the best definition is one that doesn’t reduce one’s individuality or independence, but enhances it; one that’s grounded in mutual respect and encourages growth within the relationship as well as outside of it; and, particularly, one in which problems are solved together rather than “heroically” on one’s partner’s behalf.
This is the sort of romance that underpins both Possession (available now) and Sins of Another (due to be released April 29, 2013), both from Dreamspinner Press.
Between now and May 29, 2013 I’ll be including clues in my blog tour stops and my own blog entries to references made within Sins of Another.
Here’s how it works: You get the clue from the blog posts and keep track of the answers on your own. After the last clue has been posted (May 29, 2013), email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Make sure you follow the blog tour over the next couple months as I’ll be giving away swag bags, a goodie hamper, and a copy of Sins of Another.
This week’s clue:
Padrig’s mate Freddie is a hobbyist thespian. Two of the plays he’s appeared in are mentioned in the story. They are both popular, classic plays by quite well known playwrights, and both have to do with mistaken identity. Name the plays.