Romance Weekly: Genre and Influences

image001Hey everyone! It’s that time of the week again: Romance Weekly. Find out what your favorite authors think about the questions below, or discover new-to-you authors! Let’s get to it!

1. Do you prefer to write futuristic, contemporary or historical romances and why?

I tend to write historicals. I’ve written one urban fantasy, set in modern-day San Francisco, but it didn’t go anywhere. It’s still sitting on my computer, awaiting rewrites and, perhaps, submissions at some time in the future. For now, I’m sticking with historicals.

The first book I ever wrote as an adult (also sitting on my computer) was a historical. I guess I chose that genre because I love the history aspect of it, and I cut  my teeth on historical romances. My first one was Julie Garwood–The Bride, I think, but it might have been The Gift–which I followed up with Savage Thunder by Joanne Lindsey. I discovered these books when i was sixteen, and, by the time I hit my junior year in high school, I’d read all Julie Garwood’s books. By the time I was twenty-one, I’d read Julie Garwood and Johanna Lindsey in German (it was more interesting than reading a freak-ton of Rilke. And sure, I like the tortured aspect of Gruppe 47 literature as well as anyone, but I can honestly say they didn’t inspire me to learn to read in German nearly as well as Johanna Lindsey did.)

So I guess that, as a History minor and an English Lit/German major, I was sort of destined to write historicals. I loved reading historical romances, so I guess I figured I’d love writing them. And I do. 🙂

2. What is your favorite time in history and how and why does it inspire you?

Um… Good question. I’ll admit to a certain fondness for the Victorians. They were totally wacky. For instance, the occult was really popular during the Victorian era: go to church Sunday morning, hold a séance Sunday night. Very prim and proper, and repressed sexually, but then, the treatment for hysteria was orgasms (and you went to the doctor for it!). It just seems to me like the Victorians are a study in polar opposites. Also, I have a particular fondness for the Old West, so I guess that’s part of it, too.

But I’ll admit, I loved the research that went into Highland Deception, which is set in Scotland in 1725. So, I guess that’s a close second.

3. How has your life experience contributed to your writing?

I’ll admit, I struggled with this question. I’ve traveled in Europe, and I’ve graduated from college, and all that fun stuff. College and travel opened up my eyes to new and different ways of thinking, and I suppose that that’s important if you want to be a writer. I think, because of that, I am better able to take another person’s perspective, which is necessary if one wishes to write well-rounded characters.

Getting married gave me insight into the character of men. Granted, I’ve been married since I was 22, so I guess my experience with men is limited, but I know one man like I know the back of my hand. I know what he thinks, and how he feels, and I know what he looks like when he’s upset. Being married for as long as I have (almost 17 years now!) has, I think, really helped me to write my male characters as men, and not mere caricatures of men.

Having children… Well, a baby changes everything about you. It just does. I’m the same person I was before, but I’m also… different. I don’t know if I would have had the strength to submit and suffer the potential rejections if I hadn’t had kids. I think just the act of giving birth made me less self-conscious, but having that baby? I’m so much stronger now–personality-wise–than I was before I had them. Before, I would have said that I’m “nice.” I was a good girl, and easily embarrassed. I hated to be wrong. I hated just the thought of someone thinking I’m not perfect. I tried really hard to be everything to everyone. To be the perfect wife, the perfect daughter, the perfect employee.

And then, I had a two-year-old.

I’ve done the walk of shame out of the grocery store more times than I could count (very smart, very volatile children = very loud tantrums in the store). I’ve been barfed on, had one kid have a diaper explosion (and I mean explosion–it was disgusting) at a restaurant in San Francisco, and gotten pee in my eye while changing a diaper at the mall.

It has been an exercise in humility. It made me realize that I am not, nor will I ever be, perfect, and I would kill myself if I kept trying to be.  I think that the thought of rejection might have done me in, if I hadn’t gotten over my need to be viewed as perfect. I’m not sure I ever would have submitted in the first place, because I would have been deeply ashamed if someone didn’t think my work was up to par.

I’m a published author because of the kids. They’re the ones, really, who gave me the strength to do that.

Go see what Fiona Riplee has to say on the subject!


16 thoughts on “Romance Weekly: Genre and Influences”

  1. Wonderful post, Meggan. And congratulations on your PAN status. I think out humilities are the base of our true strength and there is nothing like marriage and children to reach you those

  2. Literally laughed out loud reading your post (pee comment) today. And you made me think of a connection between Victorians and German culture. Both had a kind of hide it in propriety (neat boxes, manners etc) and let it all hang out (whether its topless on the beach or scripts for orgasms)

    1. The Germans are an interesting bunch. I remember when I was there, and my professor was this very straight-laced guy, so stereotypically German that it was almost unsettling (when he came to Reno the next year, his loud Hawaiian shirt threw me for a loop). Everyone I met, actually, struck me as quite proper…and then I watched TV. And went to the beach. There was nothing “proper” about it. 🙂

  3. Those Victorians…kind of like the Regency set. All proper outward appearances and everybody was sleeping with someone else’s husband or wife. Not to mention 50% of the brides were pregnant when they got married but heaven forbid a man touch a woman’s ungloved hand.

    Your highlanders are super yummy!

  4. You nailed motherhood right on the head. There is nothing that could remind us more that we can’t do it all and be absolutely perfect all the time. Loved your blog!!!

  5. I just had a baby and he’s a healthy six month old. But he was born 10 weeks premature. Talk about everything not being perfect but somehow we come out the other side. Our kids teach us for the better and make us better writers 🙂 Thanks for the blog post!

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