It is my pleasure to share a guest post from another author from the Wild Rose Press Garden, as Gwenan Haines answers the question...
ELF: What do you think is the strongest attraction about the genre(s) you like to write in?
GH: I always wanted to be a writer (or, as William Faulkner would say, to “be writing”) but the truth is I never saw myself practicing my craft in the romance genre. Maybe this was partly because I was a bit of a tomboy growing up. Maybe it was because my own life has veered more toward the pre-Darcy version of Bridget Jones. More than once I’ve sighed as I read a glowing bio of a fellow writer who’s been married to the love of her life for decades. How can I write romance when I haven’t even found the love of my own life?
Good question. Here’s another – or at least one that’s been put to me more than once. Why would I want to write romance when I could be writing “real” novels? The people who’ve asked me this question don’t mean anything negative, but I’ll admit there is a bit of a tone to their inquiries. What is it about romance that makes people regard it as a guilty pleasure and nothing more?
Before I try to answer that, let me say this—for me, romance novels are a guilty pleasure. Or maybe just a pleasure, plain and simple. There’s nothing better than curling up in front of my fireplace and losing myself in 19th century Britain or Medieval Scotland. I still remember discovering Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander and plowing through it as fast as I could turn the pages. There really isn’t any better way to forget the sometimes harsh realities of daily life.
But there’s more to it than that. It seems fitting that I’m writing this blog post on International Women’s Day, because I’m convinced that romance novels of all genres are as liberating and empowering as anything Betty Friedan or Gloria Steinem ever wrote. Back in college I once had to analyze a Harlequin romance novel through the lens of Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Women. Now I love Wollstonecraft—she was a true rebel who was far ahead of her time—and I loved my professor. And I was all set to write a paper bashing that category romance as nothing but silly trash (and, hopefully, get an A). The thing is, I couldn’t do it. Once I got going I found myself getting caught up in the story. The heroine wasn’t some delicate wallflower either. She was a strong kickass kind of woman who wasn’t willing to sell out. She held out for what she wanted and fought her way out of a bad situation right alongside the hero. In the end she got her man and stopped the bad guy too. So I wrote my paper in defense of romance (and got a B+, by the way). Years later, when I started writing, romance seemed like an obvious choice.
I wouldn’t want all my heroines to be as kickass as that one—though I have a real fondness for those kinds of characters. One of the great things about the romance genre is that it’s not just one woman’s story, it’s all our stories. Over the years I’ve read about just about every type of heroine that’s out there. I hope to keep creating new voices, new stories, in my own writing too. And as for finding my own Mr. Darcy? I’m going to keep looking. And after reading about so many sexy, courageous guys I’ve got a pretty good idea what I’m looking for!
by Gwenan Haines
GENRE: Romantic suspense
For three years Laura Drake has watched Senator Pete Worthington promote a series of gorgeous women while she sits in a forgotten corner answering constituent letters on an outdated computer. When Worthington asks her to find an elusive file one Friday night he sets off a series of events that brands her as a killer and puts her life in jeopardy. The path she sets out on forces her to confront not only the nature of evil but the ghosts from her past that have never been set to rest.FBI Agent Dalton Ross transferred from Chicago to Washington to escape his own ghosts. When his investigation leads him to Laura he's torn between his desire to keep her safe and the need to protect his own heart. As the mystery that surrounds them deepens, Laura and Dalton race to save themselves and the nation from someone willing to sacrifice anything to protect a secret.
Dalton checked his gun and opened the driver’s side door as quietly as possible. “Appearances can be deceiving.”
She opened her door too. “You leave me here, I’m gone when you get back.” She flashed an object in front of his face. “And I’ve got the key.”
“Do you have a death wish or something?” How had she managed to get hold of the key? He was sure he’d put it in his wallet, which was tucked away in the glove compartment. He would have remembered it if she’d opened it. “I thought you said you were dull.”
“I am.” She deposited the key down the front of her dress. “But I’m kinda getting the hang of this adventure thing.” A grin tugged at the corner of his mouth, but he suppressed it. She was charming, no doubt about that. And damn mysterious, too. As she stood there smiling with cat-like satisfaction, he had to resist the urge to take her in his arms and kiss her. Just the idea of pressing his lips to hers was making him hard. The trouble was Laura had no idea what she was up against. She thought of all this as an exciting change from her ordinary life. But this was real life, and real life was full of people whose sole purpose was to inflict as much pain as they possibly could. It was all too easy to go about one’s business without ever seeing the dark side of things—he’d done it for years, and in a way, he wished he could go back to being that twenty-year-old kid who signed up for an interview with the FBI mostly to impress his buddies. But after more than a decade spent hunting killers he knew that like all fairy-tales, the happily-ever-after of suburbia had its monsters.
In real life, people died.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
I live in an old Cape house with my daughter, too many books, and a red-and-white Siberian husky born on Halloween. After working in Washington, D.C. for several years and traveling to Russia, Europe and Pakistan, I moved back to New England. I’m the author of the romantic suspense novel Vertigo, which is available as an E-book from Amazon Encore and in paperback from Wild Rose Press. Collateral Risk, the follow-up novel to Collateral Damage (which features Dalton’s boss Nick Doyle and scientist Mia Lindgren), is forthcoming from Wild Rose Press. When I’m not working on fiction, I write poetry, teach literature and am still trying to learn how to cook.
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