Margaret Ethridge

Why romance?

Not long ago, my mother asked me why I didn’t just sit down and write a nice, juicy mystery.


Don’t get me wrong. My mom is proud of me. She has read and touted everything I’ve ever written. (Well, the ones she knows about… wink-wink) She has never uttered a harsh word about romance even though I know she prefers her fiction along more literary lines. But I get the sneaking suspicion that, in her mind,  a mystery would be a little more…respectable.

*heavy sigh*

She would never, ever say so out loud. This was the closest she would ever come to disparaging my choice of genre. She did it so gently and with so much heartfelt encouragement I didn’t quite have the heart to say anything more than, “I write the kinds of books that I like to read.”

That is the truth, boiled down to the plainest, simplest terms. But that isn’t the whole truth.

I adore Regencies. Gobble them up like an Atkins dieter turned loose at The Old Country Buffet. That doesn’t mean I want to write one. I also read thrillers, police procedurals, suspense, paranormal, literary fiction, and yes, a nice, juicy mystery/detective story.

I’m not so into the sci-fi/fantasy or western, but I’m not opposed to reading either if there’s story enough to draw me in. The only thing I do not read is horror. I am a wuss, and about the only thing I’m not afraid of is admitting my total and utter wussiness.

The fact of the matter is, opening a new book makes me happy, and the last thing I want is to be sad when I close that book. Oh, I may miss the characters or wish there were more to the story, but I don’t believe a novel has to be bleak and hopeless to be meaningful.

I listened politely while Mom outlined how ‘easily’ I could have turned one of my recent releases into a wonderful mystery, because when you’re dealing with your mother or a nun, that’s what you do. I even conceded a couple of plot points. Why not? The book is already published. She knew I couldn’t change it.

As the conversation wound down, it circled back to my chosen genre, and I did my best to explain the unexplainable.

I write contemporary because those are the characters I relate to the best. While I love other eras and settings, I’ve never daydreamed my way into a Wild West saloon or an English drawing room. I pant for a Highlander in his plaid, but I have no real desire to shiver the winter away in a dank Scottish castle. I do not hear those characters in my head.

But…never say never. One day they could move in, corsets and all, and I may find myself buried in tons of research about the ton. Or, I might shapeshift myself into the world of dark paranormal. It’s possible.

But romance is the one genre that encompasses all the possibilities.

I told my mother that it all boiled down to the fact that while I love to read a happy ending, I love writing one even more.

She seemed to think that was as good a reason as any.

Thanks, Mom.

Oh, and I had her jot a few notes down on her mystery idea. Couldn’t hurt, right?

9 thoughts on “Why romance?

  1. I understand completely. I find myself when I start digging in those musty history books to research for my historicals. A few pages in, and I’m lost in that world.

  2. Thanks why I have so much respect for those of you who write historical, Sandi. I’m afraid I’d fall in and never come out!

  3. What a co-inky-dink. You love to write comtemporary romance and I love to read it. We are a match made in heaven. You just keep thinking the way you think. 😉

  4. I’ll read just about anything but I think you have to write what your voice is. I don’t have a voice for historicals, or Sci-fi. I could FORCE myself to write one but every word would be unnatural and my discomfort at writing that story would be evident.

    And as far as romance…who doesn’t want to fall in love again and again (within the safety of a book!) And the HEA? I get enough reality with news. Give me a little fantasy about couple who love each other and are willing to fight to make it all work.

    And that mystery? Yeah. I’ve got one of those in my head too!

  5. It’s funny. I had an almost identical conversation with my mother too and I gave the same reason. I write what I like to read. I write what I know…mostly. Okay, so there is a lot of fantasy involved, but fantasy in an everyday world that could very much happen and I would love for it to happen to me. 😀 Loved this blog post, Margaret!

  6. Great topic, Maggs! There was an article in the last RWA monthly about the respectability/lack there of in the romance genre. I know it’s come a long way in the last twenty to thirty years. It traveled from the valley to its current position at base camp two, but we want the peak. I believe, if we resect ourselves, the genre, and continue to write great stories the respect will continue its accent.

  7. I think you hit the nail on the head here, “I do not hear those characters in my head”
    I am so with you about entertainment. I have no desire to pick up a book, read 330+ pages and then not have my happy ending or feeling of despair. I love the romance genre and I will always defend it. In fact when someone asks me what type of books I read, when I reply back romance, I don’t give them time to give me a reaction as I start right in with my favourite author names and just right into a conversation. 🙂

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