“Jendela Tryst, why the pseudonym? Are you ashamed of your work?”
Ouch! Nothing feels more like a kick in the gut than someone thinking that you’re ashamed of your own work. But I have gotten this comment from close friends who claim they love me. What is it about love that makes someone think you are impervious to hurt?
No, people, I am not ashamed of my work. I simply feel more creative freedom in the guise of anonymity. That is what my response usually is, well-crafted, well-thought-out, and about as fiction as my stories.
So… if you catch me at a truly honest moment, sometime between that second and third glass of wine when I am incredibly uninhibited but at the same time, suspiciously lucid (I am a light-weight, two glasses will do it), I may reply this: Yes, I am a little ashamed of my work.
I’m ashamed because I’m a strong, educated, and at times, bitingly sarcastic woman who loves to debate the vices of the International Monetary Fund as well as whether Girls is a step back for feminists. I’m ashamed because I put all my strengths upfront for everyone to see but none of my “weaknesses,” like being a die-hard romantic.
Which, of course, is not a weakness. In trying to hide this absolute fact about myself, I present a true actual weakness: a fear of revealing the real me. Jendela Tryst, in many ways, is more authentic than my actual persona. She represents the sweetest, most human side of me. Her subject is always about love, her philosophy simple, with a steady core of optimism. Love is all that matters for Jendela.
My actual name, which, by the way, is very long and hard to pronounce, is one I am less proud of simply because she shies away from admitting certain truths. I do, in fact, love love. I get excited when I read, watch, and listen to stories about people finding one another. I get tingles when I read about that first, long overdue kiss!
Even as I roll my eyes, my heart sings! I absolutely love romance.
In writing these books and in telling everyone I know about these books, the real me is starting to overcome the scared me. I am proud to contribute to the promotion of romance, hope, and love. I am doing something that I’ve always been too afraid to do.
However, the intellectual me (and my core group of friends) does like to poke holes at my philosophy and ask the Big Questions. Am I hurting feminism? Is romance itself, a step backward? Does it breed co-dependency? These are great questions, ones I love discussing.
For me, the answer is “no.” At least, not my books. I, and a lot of wonderful romance authors out there, make sure that our heroines are strong and extremely self-sufficient. Love does not have to mean weakness or a loss of independence. A healthy relationship helps a person become what they’ve always wanted and were meant to be.
At least, that’s the message that I hope comes across between the pages.
However, some relationships are not so healthy, even the ones that seem to start out like textbook romance. Some novels push the envelope of decency and at times, really do make us ask, what is the purpose here? Is our heroine truly this insipid? Such novels may hurt the genre of romance and make people like me cringe at being associated with it. There was one best-selling series in particular where the male protagonist clearly sexually assaulted the heroine. Is my name to be sullied?
Unfortunately, bad romance novelists will continue to muddy the waters for the good ones because really, “good” and “bad” is all subjective. We read what we need to at the moment, not always to make us better people, but to pass the day. No need to be judgmental. In this modern day, however, we have an endless buffet of reading choices and a limited number of “genres” available to label the cuisine.
How others perceive me, however, should not effect how I see myself. I, and many authors of my genre, are doing a wonderful thing: providing entertainment, excitement, and hopefully, a little bit of self-reflection. There is so much wisdom to be had between the pages of romance fiction, if only more people would give them a chance!
I, for one, am extremely proud to be adding my name to the list of amazing authors who rejuvenated my faith in love and allowed me to embrace the warmest side of myself. Love is a worthy subject, and romance is far from dead. I, and many others, will make sure of that.
So, next time, anyone asks me why I have a pseudonym, I will simply reply this, “My name is so hard to pronounce, you probably can’t even say it three times fast without stuttering. But Jendela really is the best side of me. I hope I can introduce you some day.”