Emotions are the entire basis for any romance novel. I write contemporary romance, romantic suspense and historical romance but for each sub-genre, emotions such as joy, love, loss, bereavement, fear and courage are all felt the same today as they were in any past century. It’s the constant that we all share and always will.
As I create my characters and their goals, motivations and conflicts, I focus my mind on what issue will evoke the most emotion in the characters and the reader. This is a vital consideration if I want my readers to be wholly invested in the characters’ journeys and, ultimately, their happy ever after.
Romance writers also tend to use their stories to explore an issue they feel strongly about or as an avenue in which to purge a conflict they are enduring, or have endured, in the past. Hopefully, everyone has the opportunity to experience falling in love, but it’s not always a happy one. By the time we hit our mid-twenties (quite possibly younger), many of us would’ve experienced heartbreak, betrayal and/or disappointment. These memories and the feelings that we went through provide a melting pot of emotion to pour onto the page.
One of the hardest of my books to write was Saved By The Firefighter, but it was also one of the most cathartic. Just before I started writing this book, I had lost my beloved, ten-year-old black Labrador, Max. He was my first family dog and my constant companion. He was with me pretty much twenty-four-seven and would lay for hours at my feet while I worked. During our walks I would plot and plan, solve problems and gain new inspiration. He was everything to me.
When he died, I was literally struck down with grief. I was lost. Didn’t want to do or think about anything…and I had a deadline looming. I had to start work. But how?
That was when I knew the book I needed to write had to involve bereavement, a fight through the hero or heroine’s grief until they come out the other side, happier and stronger than they were before their loss. As soon as I believed the writing of this book could be my way of healing, of purging everything I was feeling and how much I was hurting, the writing began to flow.
I poured everything I had into every word, every scene and every character action and decision.
The feedback from readers has been fantastic - Readers have told me how Trent and Izzy’s story brought them hope, evoked tears and memories, but they finished the book smiling. This is my aim when I write – to heal a little of something in me and in the lovely people who read my books.
Romance writing is therapy. Great therapy! And I will be calling on its healing again as, last week, I lost my father to the terrible disease of dementia. It will be interesting to see how this second loss and heartbreak will manifest itself in my future work…