Originally posted on January 5, 2012
I’ll admit it: I was feeling a little silly when I was trying to come up with a title for this blog post. The title actually has little to do with the subject of this post, so please forgive me for misleading you. What I’m talking about instead is just a deeper exploration of why I don’t consider myself to be a romance writer.
If any of you ever read my old blog (http://jadecjamison.blogspot.com/), you’ll recognize this theme. I’ve talked specifically about why my novels can’t be considered romance, even though they have romantic elements to them. I’d like to explore that notion in more detail here. I’ve seen my fiction labelled “romance” in a lot of places, and it’s not a bad description; it’s just not entirely accurate. Let me tell you why my books just don’t live up to that promise:
1. The narrator of my books doesn’t usually tell the story from the “hero’s” point of view. I have multiple reasons for avoiding telling stories from a man’s point of view, and we can talk about those some other time, but those of you who are familiar with my writing know this is true. In fact, the only story I know of where I did that was in Fabric of Night, and that was only near the very end of the book. For three paragraphs, readers get to “see” the thoughts in Bryan’s head, and I admit I used it as a device to build tension and also to avoid the questions later–”Why did he do that?” and “How did he know?” More often than not, I prefer to have it explained some other way.
Other than that scene, however, my narrators usually ride shotgun right next to the protagonist. I think it helps put readers in the protagonist’s shoes, so maybe you feel like her or, if not, maybe at least like a close friend. I don’t want too much distance there. And I don’t want to write an omniscient narrator either, because I think that takes away from the intimate feel. For instance, I want you to pick up a Nicki Sosebee book and, by the end, I want you to feel like you’re Brandy or Jilly. Or, better yet, maybe you’re feeling a little wild and crazy, as though you’ve been in Nicki’s shoes for a few hours. One of my close friends said her boyfriend liked when she read my stories…and I knew exactly what she meant!
2. The focus of my books is not strictly on the developing romantic relationship between my protagonist and the guy she’s interested in. Some of my books might feel like that, but even the short ones that spend a lot of time on the romantic angle have a lot of other things going on, and the developing relationship is not the point of the story. In case you require more proof…
Tangled Web: Even though Katie and Johnny hook up, Katie spends a good chunk of the book discovering she’s not happy and makes changes so that her life becomes fulfilling.
Fabric of Night: Teri spends most of the book rediscovering herself and trying to redeem herself by becoming a better person.
Stating His Case: Okay, well…maybe this one. But even then, I’d argue that Samantha is not interested in a romantic relationship at first. She gives in to her lust and then frets over the fact that she’s jeopardized her career. Then she starts thinking more about a relationship.
Worst Mother: Randi tries to get to the bottom of what’s wrong with her daughter. She’s also interested in bettering their lives. Justin is secondary until later in the book.
The Nicki Sosebee Novels: You don’t really think these ones even come close to romance, do you? Again, there are some places where there are romantic happenings (usually with Jesse, most specifically I’d say No Place to Hide, because that book developed their relationship). Maybe you could argue that sections of Right Now and One More Time have romantic spots too, but overall? No way!
The point is this: There’s more going on than just a developing romance. I said the following on my old blog:
While I like to write about romantic entanglements, I don’t want that to be the only focus of my stories. For instance, in Tangled Web, Katie was not only struggling with her hidden lust/love of her dear old friend Johnny, she also came to the realization that she was denying her true passions, and she had to resolve that problem. Granted, some of my stories have more complicated plots than others, but I don’t ever want to be tied down to just a romantic plot.
3. I don’t want you to know how the story is going to end before you get there. It’s true that we love romance novels because, even though there are a lot of ups and downs, we know the ending will be happy, and we know the guy and girl will end up together, no matter what misunderstandings and problems they encounter along the way. Now, you do see some happy endings in a lot of my books, but it’s never a given, nor do I want it to be. Sure, the guy and girl hook up most of the time, but isn’t it more exciting when you don’t know for sure?
You’ve already read on other posts here why I consider my books women’s fiction. I know my novels aren’t entirely comfortable in that category either, but that’s probably as close a genre as I’ll come to. Well, maybe not. A book I’m working on that will be out this spring called Old House is actually horror! But don’t worry…there’ll still be plenty of the stuff I write that you like in it (a kiss or two and a little steam and probably a few F bombs), just with a ghost or two thrown in for fun!