What is it about becoming a romance novelist that makes everyone want to come to you for advice? I’m not complaining, I just find it one of the fascinating perks about being a novelist. There have always been a certain gravitas to authors. Visions of brooding philosophers come to mind, looking out of their window at stormy beaches, pondering the Big Question(s).
Do I ponder? Well, certainly I love to delve into the dark and twisted realms of questions that need never be answered, but really, when I look out my window, all I see are screaming kids in a suburban neighborhood with homes too close together, and neighbors who enjoy tolerant, cordial, but thoroughly disengaged relationships. I’d love to open the window and breathe in that fresh, almost-autumn air, but honestly, my neighbor’s grill smoke seems to be aimed straight at me. My flower garden that held such promise in the early spring, with visions of spilling petunias and noble lavender, is a dried up and neglected compost pile. What is it about Summer that makes Spring dreams seem over-ambitious and pointless?
Well, autumn is here and I’m ready for a new start, in this case, putting the final touches on my series about Eros and Psyche entitled, Origin of Love. Just say the word “romance novel” to anyone and mostly you get one of two reactions: a blush, or a leer. But sometimes, just sometimes, you meet a kindred. Someone who gives you a flash of something in their eyes, a recognition, as if we’re old friends who went to the same kindergarten many years ago. Romance novelist, ah, I am in the presence of someone who gets it.
I love these moments. I have learned, albeit very painfully, to appreciate these rare moments when I meet such people, and they remind me that this is really the reason why I write: to connect with like-minded people. The ones who worry that they are alone. The ones who think that there are no more romantics left in the world. The ones who are embarrassed to admit that they, too, love love.
There are lots of us. I enjoy sharing what I know about my understanding of that ever complicated emotion that makes monsters or heroes out of all of us. So do you want my advice? Sure, I’ll do my best. But really, the best advice is in the pages of the novels we love, between the lines, in the raw emotion we feel when the characters we love do the right or wrong things. We are all protagonists in their story. We are all protagonists in our own story. Let’s make it a good one.