My love affair with romance novels started when I was around nine or ten when I discovered the Sweet Valley High books by Francine Pascal. In fact, as a Brit living in South West England my entire life, I can honestly say that’s when my love affair started with all things American!
I was the dreamy-eyed bookworm of the early 1980s – yes, the big glasses, the big hair and the big clothes, that was me! The adventures of twins, Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield and their endless boy and friendship problems drew me in and steadfastly kept me there for a couple of years until I discovered the books that inspired me to put pen to paper…the Sweet Dreams books.
Please tell me you remember these books and it wasn’t just sad little me who devoured them one after another. I already had my favourite librarian at our local public library but with these books, I specifically remember her keeping back the new ones for me whenever they arrived. She was my first heroine!
I wrote my first book around the age of twelve and remember punching holes in its “spine” and holding it together with pink ribbon, lol! How I wish I’d kept it – the hero was Brad and the heroine, Claire. That’s all I remember :)
After that, it was a few years of sneaking my mum’s Mills & Boon novels (Harlequin) into my bedroom and reading way past the light being turned off. There was one story in particular that moved me enough to make me decide I wanted to write when I grew up. Snippets of that book still linger in my memory but I have no idea of the author or the book. I can’t even really remember the plot but what I do remember is the emotion, the way it made me feel. For me, as romance writers our job is to do exactly that, evoke emotion.
To make the reader really feel – make them laugh, make them cry, make them feel. If my readers tell me I have moved them in any way, I am a happy, happy lady. My job is done.
Nowadays, my favourite romance or women’s fictions authors are Nora Roberts, Jean Fullerton, Robyn Carr & Phillipa Gregory.
Big shoes to fill, huh? Of course, what would be the point of writing, of all that blood, sweat and tears if we didn’t reach for the stars? I want to deliver bigger and better books with each novel I write!