Welcome to Author Next Door!
Why do I write Romance (or anything at all)? I’ve always loved a good story, especially one with a heroine and hero who achieve a happy ending and a bad guy who gets what s/he deserves.
Before I could read for myself, my mother would read to my siblings and me at bedtime. With a father and grandfather holding PhDs in English, we listened to classics, often Mark Twain for humor. Couple that with a grandmother working as head librarian at a college, I had full access as I got older to the stacks in the summertime. Sitting on the floor surrounded by rows of books and reading Fairy tales and fantasy for hours at a time was heaven!
I discovered Nancy Drew books, Robert Heinlein’s juvenile fiction, and historical fiction through Anya Seton’s Katherine and Georgette Heyer’s regency world. At university I tackled James Michener. Though I’m a fast reader, it took me two weeks to get through Hawaii. I decided I needed to find shorter books I could read in one setting.
Enter Harlequin. Some of the earlier series books I read were great. Others were so bad I would throw them across the room and yell, “I can write better than this!” After I’d said that one too many times my husband finally responded, “So write one yourself.” The old put-up-or-shut-up ploy engaged my imagination—not that it needed a jump-start.
It wouldn’t have been the first time I’d written something. At ten years old I put myself to sleep at night by writing myself into my favorite TV shows. At thirteen I’d started my first novel (no matter I only completed the table of contents and page one of the first chapter). My freshman year in college I took a short story class during which we wrote two short stories of our own, and the teacher loved my voice.
So I entered grad school. Taking creative writing courses full time was like working in a chocolate factory, but I soon realized that I had a long journey ahead of me. In critique sessions other people seemed to love the stuff I put in as an afterthought, not the parts I’d consciously crafted. They didn’t like my hero, they loved the off-the-wall guy who happened to bump into my heroine at a busy lunch spot. I kept writing. And once again, life decided I needed more experience.
All-But-Thesis when my son was born, I had to go back to work when my husband lost his job. We moved to a different city. I got divorced. News flash: single moms don’t have much time or energy left at the end of the day! I still wrote short stories for a summer writing conference required by my school; by now I was teaching high school English.
It was during spring break I met my own hero on the dance floor (there’s a subject for at least a few blogs in the future!). He encouraged me to take a year off after we married, take a refresher writing course through the university, and start writing my book. I found RWA and joined a wonderful local chapter. I was lucky enough to find two great critique partners. Joining a writing challenge helped me finish the infamous “manuscript under my bed,” and I finally tackled—and finished!—the novel of my heart (a topic for another blog).
All this is to say, I write because I visualize romantic scenes. I hear voices of characters who spar with each other, who laugh and cry and fight and make up. For me, romance is finding the treasure of a fulfilling relationship, one that brings out the best in both people, helps each overcome past baggage, and multiplies joy rather than adding. In a romance story I can explore “what if,” I can change “why not?” and I can dream of happily-ever-after bliss. I also get to kill people without going to jail. But that, too, is another story.
So, dear reader, welcome to Author Next Door! Please read stuff. Enjoy yourself. Sign up for my newsletter (I promise not to bombard you with emails). Come back often, and let me hear from you!
Karen Taylor Saunders