Friday, January 22, 2010


By Isabo Kelly

In this monthly series, Isabo talks about the often uncomfortable questions every author gets asked, and how to handle those dreaded inquiries. If you have gotten any of these “dreaded” questions, please share them with us here. If you have an answer, all the better.

This question particularly applies to those of us who write romance and/or erotic romance.  How often have you heard a variation on this question when a non-romance reader finds out what you write? Usually said with distain, often followed by questions like: “You can just churn those out in a week, right?” “Why don’t you write a real book?” “How do you research the sex scenes?”

That last one makes me laugh. A good response—depending on the smarminess of the questioner—is “jealous?” Although, to be fair, my husband never minds when people ask him if he helps his romance writing wife with her research. He just grins and leaves it at that.

As to the other questions, well those kind tend to tick me off. Those books are wonderful, character-driven stories that emphasize the power and strength of human emotions and love. If the questioner thinks he can “churn” out a fully developed romance story with well drawn characters and a good plot in a week, I dare him to try.

And then there’s my all time favorite—the “real” book. I always have to ask what they mean by real. Real as in: a griping story that has a beginning, middle and end; a novel with complex characters struggling with internal and external troubles; the book has cover art and an ISBN; the type of book which dominates nearly half the publishing market place?

It’s a silly question, a nonsensical one. And personally, I like pointing out the error in their logic—said in a calm, rational manner, of course. Hard to make fun of facts.

Romance is a flexible genre which can encompass any kind of story. For years, I’ve thought authors who want to learn how to write stories that have both character and plot development should study romance novels. And romance deals with one of the most basic human needs—the need for love and companionship. Relationships are a part of our human existence. Romance writers deal with the complexities of those relationships.

So what’s to be derisive about? Maybe the reaction to romance is a cynical dig at the happy endings by people who don’t believe they represent real life. If so, I’m sorry for those people. I adore my happy endings. In a world where I can’t control or stop poverty, hunger, war or murder, I need to hope for something redemptive and positive. I don’t read to be depressed. I read to be uplifted and entertained. Romance novels do that. Those stories make me feel good, and when I feel good, I spread that feeling around. That can’t stop global warming, but it can make the people close to me feel good and that’s all a person can ask out of life.

That reminds me of a line from Legally Blond. “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t.”

So when asked if I write those books, I cheerfully and loudly say, “Yes, aren’t they the best ever! Have you read one yet? Oh, you’ll love them. Here, here’s one of mine. Give it a try.” Keep writing those books!♥

Isabo Kelly is the pseudonym of RWA/NYC’s Treasurer Katrina Tipton. “Isabo” has been writing romance for over ten years -- fantasy, paranormal, science fiction, and erotica. Her erotic science fiction romance, SIREN SINGING, is a winner of the Prism Award for best erotic romance. Look for the re-release of her very first science fiction, THE PROMISE OF KIERNA’ RHOAN, on the shelves now. Isabo writes for Ellora’s Cave, Cerridwen Press, Crescent Moon Press and Samhain Publishing. Visit her at

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