Saturday, June 20, 2020

The Allure Of The HEA – Why I Read And Write Romance ~ by Carmen Cook

When I finally announced I had been writing a book, a lot of family and friends were intrigued. I mean, how many of us had thought about writing a book “someday”? How many have dreamed of putting pen to paper and creating the next great American novel? And here I was, actually doing it. Not the great American Novel part, but writing a book. Aunts and Uncles came out of the woodwork with questions and encouragement. Friends wanted to hear more.


And then I told them I was writing a romance. Picture the air being sucked out of the room while people tried to figure out what to say. I mean, why romance? I’m an educated woman, I could write anything. Why would I stoop to writing that? People had opinions about my stories without ever having read a word. Others snickered. My mom was the one who asked the inappropriate question of if I tried out all the sex scenes myself (and then turned bright red and started stuttering when I happily answered ‘Of Course! How else could I describe them?’). But there were those who were supportive as well. A male colleague won my eternal affection when he heard I wrote romance and his first reaction was to immediately exclaim, “There’s a lot of money in romance!” (He’s right, there is. It’s a billion-dollar industry.)

What none of those people seemed to understand is that romance is a genre that transcends everything. A common misconception when it comes to the romance genre is that we read it for the sex. Yes, there is sex. Really good sex. Sometimes it’s unbelievable sex (I’ve yet to meet a virgin who achieved multiple orgasms). I hate to break it to you, but the sex in most romance novels isn’t the core driving force of the story.

Back when I first started writing and was having a lot of conversations defending my chosen genre, I spoke to a friend who is a die-hard sci-fi fan. We talked about what she found so intriguing about the genre, and at its core, she said it was the good triumphing over evil. No matter the foe, no matter the obstacle, she knew good would win in the end.

That’s the thing with writing (and reading) romance too. No matter the conflict, no matter the challenge, I am assured that at the end of the book, the heroes will be happy with one another. That they will have overcome whatever the obstacle was –be it a serial killer in romantic suspense, or the town gossip in a rom-com—and they will live happily ever after…or at the very least Happily For Now (HFN).

But the biggest objection I’ve heard about writing romance is that it’s so unbelievable. And for me, that’s a full stop. The idea that being cared for and loved, in spite of our imperfections, shouldn’t be unbelievable. Having someone love you for who you are isn’t unbelievable. There is nothing unbelievable about love.

So, for me, romance is my genre of choice. The allure of the HEA has never been more appealing.

Listen to Carmen Cook's podcast episode here.

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