What is Romance? And How to Choose a Book for Valentine’s Day.
by Nicci Carrera, Adina Senft, and Jasmine Haynes
Nicci Carrera: Hello, Village House of Books blog readers. I am writing most of this post and inviting my co-book-signers to chip in, so please bear with my long-windedness. This is a topic near and dear to my heart! So I will talk first and then ask one question each of the amazing Adina Senft and Jasmine Haynes.
I am thrilled to be doing my first ever book-signing of my debut spicy romantic comedy at Village House of Books with two remarkable authors whose work I adore on Valentine’s Day, 2015 (3 – 5 p.m.).
If you have not tried reading modern romance novels, I encourage you to try them. Romance is a very broad category. You can find anything you want in the genre, and there is a guarantee that the book will have a happy ending. This guarantee is why I am willing to read any romance, no matter the type. I know it won’t leave me depressed! I enjoy literary fiction, but it can be quite risky. If the book is going to make me cry at the end, it had better be worth it. Sometimes that can be a very valuable experience, if an ending like that is beautifully done, and if it is absolutely essential to the story. I strongly dislike a book that feels like the author made the ending miserably sad and it feels forced or arbitrary. In general, because I can find so many excellent books in the romance genre, I tend to read and write these books the most.
To give you an idea of the restrictions and the range of the romance novel, here is the “official” definition from Romance Writers of America:
Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending. … Romance novels may have any tone or style, be set in any place or time, and have varying levels of sensuality—ranging from sweet to extremely hot. These settings and distinctions of plot create specific subgenres within romance fiction.
There you have it. A romance can have any kind of setting, like sci-fi, paranormal, historical, contemporary, and so on. First decide which type of story you want. Or if you don’t care, skip that part. (I like all types, for example.) Second, decide what level of “heat” (sensuality) you feel like reading. Authors and publishers understand that romance readers want a specific experience, so we try to make the heat level obvious right on the cover. That way the reader knows what she or he is getting in that department. I read all three levels and think it’s great that our signing represents the whole spectrum, from sweet to hot.
Adina Senft writes Amish romance. I read Adina’s books when I want to experience life without a lot of technology. Her complex characters have depth, her writing is beautiful, the stories are moving and educational, and I can lose myself in a world where people live more slowly and are devoted to their communities and spirituality.
Nicci: Adina, what do you like to read and what do you like about writing and reading romance?
Adina: I think the three of us feel the same about our favorite genre—that it has something for everyone because it appeals to the heart. One thing I also appreciate about it is that it puts the woman at the center of the story. Romance is about a woman finding a worthy partner in a committed relationship, no matter how many bumps there might be along the road.
The thing I find about writing Amish romance is that as an author, you have to go deep, not wide. What I mean by that is, the scope of action in your plot is not so much historical events or running from bad guys but family issues and church expectations, usually in a very small geographical area. I grew up in a plain church (not Amish, but it had many doctrinal similarities), and I can tell you that submitting your human nature to the rule of the church’s expectations can be a real struggle—a book’s worth of struggle for a character. So take a small, enclosed setting, put the range of human nature at work inside it, with all the misguided emotion, mistakes, and humor, and you have a crucible for lots of conflict—and lots of character growth. And when you add a courtship story to the mix, the emotions are only heightened because the character’s hearts and futures are at risk—which is something that readers might have in common with the characters, even if they’ve never met an Amish person.
I love writing with all that great material at hand!
Nicci: Thank you, Adina. You put into words what I experience when I read your Amish romances. I find them riveting.
Jasmine Haynes writes hot romance.
Her writing is also beautiful and her characters are complex and sensual. I read Jasmine’s books when I am in the mood for classy erotic romance. With both Senft and Haynes, I know I will be taking a journey with characters who struggle with real-life issues and who grow, change, and triumph.
Nicci: Jasmine, what do you like to read, and what do you like about writing and reading romance?
Jasmine: What a great description of romance, Nicci! And you hit the nail on the head. Romance novels are feel-good reads. I don’t want my characters to die, and I want them to have a happy ending. I just read a novel recently, which was not a romance, where the ending simply said that as far as what happened to the couple, whether they found happiness together, it was for the reader to decide. I was so mad!!! I wanted a happy ending for those two! Now I will say that it was a family saga that lasted for two generations, but still, I wanted a lot more than for the author to tell me I could decide what happened! That kind of ending would never be acceptable in the romance genre.
I love to read all genres of romance, though I have to say that right now I’m not reading any paranormal romances. I’ve become a bit tired of vampires, werewolves, demons, and witches. But I’m sure I’ll come around to them again! I love romantic comedy (which I also write as Jennifer Skully) and Amish stories. So I can’t wait to get my hands on the new releases by my two fellow authors, Adina and Nicci. I also love mysteries and thrillers by authors like Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Karin Slaughter. But even with those authors, I still seek out the romance in them, even if it’s not central in the stories. Jack Reacher always finds his romantic interest!
Why do I write? I’m just a dreamer. I make up stories to entertain myself, then I write them down to entertain my readers! I enjoy writing romances because I love exploring characters and their emotions, and how they come to their happy endings. And I love writing erotic romance because it’s interesting to me to explore sexuality at the same time I explore the relationship. But not everything is sex, sex, sex! I love combining romance and mystery, too, which I’ve done with my Max Starr series and many of my Jennifer Skully books.
And now back to Nicci!
Nicci: Thank you, Jasmine!
If you have any comments or questions, please leave a note in the comments here or come on by The Village House of Books on Valentine’s Day to chat with us.
Nicci Carrera, Adina Senft, and Jasmine Haynes will be appearing at Village House of Books on February 14th, 2015 from 3:00pm – 5:00pm. Be sure to stop by the store and meet these fabulous authors!