Saturday, July 26, 2008

I Read What?

by Danielle Jackson

I’m going to make a confession right here on this blog—before
I worked with romance authors, I never read romance books. EVER. I’m not even joking.

Ok, actually I am joking (in the tiniest of ways). My mother, a lovely woman and quite possibly my favorite person on the PLANET, is OBSESSED with romance. Mainly contemporary, but she’s got quite a few historicals on her overflowing bookshelf. Little does she know, ever since I was about 12-years-old, I’ve been secretly stealing them and reading the saucy bits. So for all of the times I made fun of walking into her room while she was tearing up over a happy ending, I suppose I should bite my tongue and stop because I was more than likely doing the same.

I’m a reader—I read all the time and I am thrilled to have a job in publishing.
And for the longest time, I read just about anything (all types of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, essays, critiques, you name it, I read it), but I steered clear of romance. Maybe it was the high brow taste I acquired in AP English in high school and at college as an English major. Maybe it was the half naked people on the covers… I don’t know.

BUT what I do know is now that I’m working with you lovely ladies, I’m interested in romance like you wouldn’t believe. I’m making my way through all of your books and I am seriously impressed! I know I’m a little biased, but I think through this blog and our emails, I’ve gotten to know you all as people, not just authors, and that’s important for a reader. There have been some posts about writer/reader relationships, and I’m glad that I get to reach you in a way that most people don’t, and I get to see your process in creativity and how much effort you put into everything. I pay attention to other authors now, too (not just for fun, but for market research, too, hahahaha)!

And with RWA only a few days away, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be starstruck—Nora Roberts? Susan Elizabeth Phillips? And of course—all of you!

My question for you this week—what made you want to write romance? Were you an avid reader beforehand, or did you just happen upon it?


  1. Hi Danielle,
    How lucky for us that your mother raised you right--LOL--as a sneaky reader of saucy romance. I remember reading Judy Blume's "Forever" with a flashlight light at night because my mother would've flipped out if she'd known I was reading THAT book! (And I'm thrilled to hear your mom is a fan of contemporary romance!)

    I always knew I'd write a book someday, but reading Nora Roberts' books made me want to write the kind of stories she did. I wasn't even aware then that what I was reading was "romance" per se. I just loved the emotion and characters and, of course, the happily ever after ending. That's why I commented the other day that even SEEING Nora from a distance at RWA will be a thrill. Cindy has agreed to hold me back if it seems like I might embarrass myself. LOL

    (And I might need her intervention... After a lifelong fascination with all things Kennedy, when I finally met one--Patrick--I ran my fingers through his hair. Head hung in shame.... As my cousin said, You waited your whole life for a Kennedy encounter and THAT is what you do? Guilty as charged...)

  2. Hey, Danielle. I have long been a romance reader, since I was twelve years old, and it was a habit I picked up from my mother, then bolstered by a job I had in a bookstore. My boss there had me reading romance novels as a part of the job so I could talk with the customers about them (romance readers were a big part of her business). Romance is a great style to read and write because it is fun, humorous, hopeful and consistently upbeat.

  3. Danielle,
    None of my immediate family were romance readers, but I wound up in possession of my great aunt's book collection after she died, and she had a lot of Mary Stewart's romantic suspense novels which I devoured!
    As you know, it's never too late to start!

  4. Great Post, Danielle (and Aunty is blushing just a bit at you singing our praises)!

    Let's hear it for all the moms who read romance! Mine liked Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt and since she left paperbacks lying around, of course I read them. Like Cheryl, I discovered Mary Stewart on my own and LURVED her novels!

    I'll admit that back in the days of Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss, I read those hot historicals for the saucy bits. ;-) I went for a couple of decades (through college, then motherhood and career building) where I didn't read romance. Then I picked up a copy of "Outlander" as a birthday gift for my BFF. I started reading it and I was HOOKED! I started reading romance again and decided to try my hand at writing it. I love those HEAs!

  5. I was an early romance reader as far as falling in love with the fairytales of princes and princesses--

  6. Marie--That's the funniest/coolest thing about Patrick Kennedy!! I lived in New York for a tiny bit and saw my fair share of famous people, but all I did was smile and walk away quickly! I'll make sure Nora has fair warning.

    Christina--I agree completely. I suppose I just assumed romance was totally mushy and long walks at sunset, but they are so diverse and interesting and continue to evolve into an interesting and arguably the most successful genre in publishing today :)

    Cheryl--very cool about "inheriting" your first romance books!!

    AC--yes, moms who read romance are the best. Glad that you came back from your romance hiatus and decided to write your own!

    Terry-- that's a good point (and one I know you've made over on Wickedly Romantic, too)--fairy tales are romance too! I love Sleeping Beauty (the original and the Disney version).

  7. For years, I thought I didn't read much romance. During that time, Georgette Heyer and Elizabeth Goudge were my favorite authors. You can believe it or not, I didn't know their novels were romances.

    I fell in love with romance when I read Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Heaven, Texas. The blurb on the back of the book sounded awful--a stupid story in which the girl falls in love with the kind of man any girl would be better off without.

    I can't remember why, thinking that, I finally read the book--but boy! did I get an awakening.

    It was funny, intelligent, wise, sweet, emotional, nuanced, and above all, compassionate in it's approach to human foibles. There weren't any villains--just people doing their best, sometimes messing up, sometimes getting it right.

    I loved it, and having had my consciousness raised, like the person who discovered he had been "talking in prose all the time," I knew what you call the books I wanted to write.

  8. Sorry I'm late in chiming in. Growing up, I never read romance, but I was a ravenous reader. I'd read a book a day, but most of my books came from my father's library. I was the third-grader who was reading Sidney Sheldon, Harold Robbins, Robert Ludlum, Wilbur Smith, Jeffry Archer and the like. I was the kid who skipped the saucy bits because they were boring. By the time they weren't boring, I'd seen it all and it wasn't a big deal.

    I remember, years ago, looking at my Grandmother's books and thinking I'd rather be dead than caught reading a book with Fabio on the cover. I was a snob.

    About eight years ago we moved from Boise, Idaho to Maryland and I was miserable. I had three little kids on opposite schedules and I picked up a copy of Pride and Prejudice. It changed my life. I've been reading romance ever since. Jenny Crusie, Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Patti Berg...the list goes on.

    Robin :)