Life can be pretty full on at times, and reading is one of my favourite ways to relax. By opening a book or switching on my Kindle, I can completely escape from reality for a while. I enjoy reading all genres but when I want something to make me smile, something that I can rely on to lift my mood and whisk me away to another place, I turn to romance novels.
A romance novel takes readers on a familiar journey. That’s why I always smile when a story is described as being ‘predictable’, because yes, a lot of romance readers do want a happy ever after. Or at least, a happy for now.
And as much as I enjoy reading romance novels, I enjoy writing them. I love creating the complex main characters with their emotional baggage – such as their lost hopes and dreams – and bringing them gently, gradually and cautiously together. They might not always like each other at first, but by the end of the story, they will want to be together. However… the journey they go on mustn’t be easy; there must be plenty of conflict – both internal and external – and there will always be a black moment, when the conflict is at its highest and it seems as though there couldn’t possibly be a happy outcome.
I relish the dance that the two characters perform… the will-they, won’t-they build up as their relationship develops. I love to build the physical and emotional tension between them, to convey how they feel just by being close or thinking about each other. I enjoy describing the moment when it dawns on them that they are in love, even if at that point it still seems like they can’t possibly be together. Because when they do eventually admit their feelings, it will be all the sweeter.
Most films and TV series feature at least one love story. Take Ross and Rachel, Monica and Chandler, Jim and Pam, Glen and Maggie, Carrie and Big, Harry and Sally, the list goes on. Many of us enjoy watching characters we like and care about getting together – however long that takes – and reading romances is no different. We become invested in the stories and in the characters’ lives and want them to be happy.
The point of a romance isn’t just that everyone has someone, but that everyone is fulfilled. When I write romances, I want the characters to evolve to a state where they don’t need someone else, but are finally ready to be with someone. They have to be strong enough, confident enough, and to have developed enough, to be in a fulfilling relationship.
My aim is that readers will feel satisfied when they finish reading one of my novels, that they will believe that the two main characters have overcome the obstacles I put in their way, and that they deserve to be together. And most importantly, I want readers to feel happy and hopeful, because life is tough enough. A happy ending in a romance novel can be something for them to hold close when real life is not quite so perfect, something to find comfort in when they open the book and enter the fictional world.
And that is why I love writing romance.