When I broke through the first chip of slab marble to enter the writer’s world, I was welcomed by a group of talented ladies to Goodreads, which I continue to enjoy today. These women were and still are, ace writers, have many followers, and many of them write in the “Romance” genre.
I applaud the success of these writers, along with other successful romance authors. After all, love is one of our most cherished emotions as human beings. Some say “the opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s indifference.”
Young girls dream about finding the perfect love; I remember those days. We watched soap operas for years waiting for the “right” couple to finally find each other. When I read “Little Women” I’m still raw that Jo didn’t marry Laurie. The pain of young love in adolescence stays with us as adults, whether we admit it or not, most remember their first love (you too, fellas). In retrospect, we call it “a crush” but at the time the feeling is much deeper. Not mutual, not sexual, but the first person we used to look at and blush, and avoid to speak to him/her at all times, making our hearts race, and encouraged us (girls especially) to look our best; or our coolest. (Remember in “Clueless” when Cher sent herself flowers and candy?) As I read Nancy Drew books, her scenes with boyfriend Ned Nickerson, just took my breath away. I had only a minor romp into Harlequin romances, because as an adolescent I didn’t have the means to purchase books, leaving old Zane Grey/Louis L’Amour/occasional bestseller paperbacks left over by my parents, who weren’t into romance reading.
When I finally got around to becoming a new author, my first novella “Act of Redemption” is a fast-paced medieval fantasy/action/adventure story. My mother was the first to point out the lack of a love interest. What, a love interest? Shevata’s been distracted by assassinations/vigilance/lost her soul/imprisoned in hell, exactly where would she find true love? To me, it didn’t fit. When it came out, more than one reviewer knocked it for not having romance (this was done mostly by email, an example they set that I follow today; emailing if it’s a low rating, or if it doesn’t peak my interest.)
When I re-read “Act of Redemption” and try to think of a place I could’ve added romance, it just doesn’t fit in that particular part of Shevata’s story to me. But I learned from my author-colleagues; the love story in the second novella “Children of Discord” affects Shevata to the point she takes her first major step to cast her past life aside and become the normal, aging, loving human she wishes so much to be. And that’s the book that won the Pinnacle Achievement Award (I didn’t enter “Act of Redemption” into any contest). I’m not stating this was like a National Book Award, but I do believe the romance portion strengthened the story. Reviewers noticed this as well, and some of them give the second novella the higher rating.
So new authors, is romance required for storytelling? Answer: Not required, but encouraged. Even in most of my favorite gangster/action films, there’s romantic love in there somewhere. Love guides us and drives us as humans into happiness, heartbreak, hate, self-destruction, revenge, jealousy leading to the good/evil we create in our characters. Romance brings out the best and worst in people (or non-humans, depending on the story). There’s no other emotion that unleashes so much of the inner soul of a character.
Will Shevata find true love by the fourth novella? As a wee spoiler, yes, she does. But like everything else about Shevata, it’s as complicated as it is in most of our lives.