By Rosalie Brinn
This is the beginning of DARK OF THE MOON, my first attempt at a romance novel. I was in a literary writing group at the Bryant Library in Roslyn, New York. I was tired of writing literary short stories so decided to do something for fun. The group listened with interest and didn’t have too much in the way of critiques. The group leader did. “Rosalie,” she said. “Are you writing a romance?” The distain in her voice was unmistakable. But I continued. I had read romance off and on for years. I had read a number of books about Vikings, early Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Templer Knights, the first crusade and the massacre at York. I was ready to write my own…or so I thought.
As it turned out, I wasn’t, but I was hooked. I read hundreds of romances as research and found that they were fascinating. Much more so than the literary fiction I had been reading and attempting to write. The people in romance novels were allowed to have a life and goals. They were real people and written for real people. Even across the centuries they spoke to me. They didn’t have a cell phone or a Blackberry but they wanted what we all want -- connection to other people, a true love and most of all, a happy ending.
If I worked hard and was willing to pay my dues at the computer, I could provide this for my characters. Characters that at times became so real to me that I knew what they liked to wear, what food they preferred, and what their destiny would be.
At the time, I did not know about internal or external goals. But at the computer, I knew they wanted what everyone else did. And I tried to give them the semblance of reality. I talked each person’s dialogue under my breath as I wrote and somehow I was able to give each their own special vocabulary and voice.
But something else happened. I found RWA New York City. Out in the wilds of Nassau County, I could not attend too many meetings. But I did receive emails and encouragement via my computer. Then came on-line courses. Here I could be me-a romance writer. At the different courses and invitationals I was admitted to, I had to keep romance undercover. It remained my secret love, and it was made to feel like something that was not quite the thing. But e-mail from RWANYC clued me in to on-line courses that would help and give me the tools I needed.
I continued to read, but this time it was to find the origins of romance. Romance had a long tradition starting with the first novels that were written at the time of the Roman Empire. In them, lovers were separated and then reunited. Pirates might keep them apart instead of jobs in different parts of the world; disapproving parents could prevent their marrying instead of misunderstandings, but the ending was always the same. All difficulties were overcome and happiness ruled by the last page.
Then there are the RWANYC people I have met. The encouraging e-mails when, sob, rejection strikes. The outpouring of congratulations when the final goal of a published book or e-book is achieved. The generosity of helpful critiques from this chapter always results in better written work.
But okay, enough of this. Why do I write romance? For the same reason that I draw breath and eat and drink. Because I have to. There is something, something indefinable that leads me to write a hero, a heroine, a villain and breathless danger. Is it a reaction to the quiet of the suburbs? Maybe. But, what about my city cousins? They have the excitement of NYC at their fingertips, just outside their door and they still write. Whatever it is that brings me to the computer and to days of yore and now a more contemporary time in SWEPT AWAY I am glad that it is there. I don’t know what I would do without it. I hope my efforts will amuse others in the reading, as much as I had in the creating.♥