This May I’ll celebrate the twenty-fourth anniversary of my first sale to Silhouette Books. From the beginning, I’ve written straight romance and romantic suspense, and I’ve loved every book. I was going to say “every minute of it,” but there were plenty of minutes where I would have cheerfully sent an editor or two, and more than a few copyeditors, on a long walk off a short pier given the chance.
I’ve been blessed with the chance to have a career doing something I’ve loved. It’s brought so much to my life — not just an income and the freedom to continue my career while my husband’s Navy transfers took us from state to state, but experiences that I treasure, friends I adore and stories that can make me laugh and cry. If storytelling was my first love, romance novels were my second, and I’ve found tremendous satisfaction in combining the two.
But lately, I’ve had the urge to do something else. Not seriously different — I can’t imagine spending hours at the computer writing something that doesn’t revolve around a love story. I just want to shift my focus a little bit, I think. Writing explicit love scenes wears me down. Yes, sex is a tremendous part of a relationship, but I find myself wanting to revert to the common practice before I published of “closing the bedroom door.” Back then, heroes and heroines could do it like bunnies and could be as tame or as kinky as they wanted, because the author got them to the starting point, then left them to do it off the page. I’d like to write a book where I don’t have to find a new, or at least less cliched way, of describing The Acts. I’m not talking about cutting out sexual tension; I like writing that part: the magic of a first touch, a first kiss; the awareness a couple can feel while carrying on the most mundane conversation; the attraction, the growing hunger and need. I’d just like to skip the sex for one book.
And while I’m discussing things I’d like to skip, it’s way past time for me to write a book where no one is in danger of losing anything but their hearts. I used to alternate straight romances with romantic suspenses, which was a great balance for me. For the last five or six years, I’ve written nothing but suspense, and I’m starting to look at it the same way as the sex scenes. Suspense is great; I’ve made best seller lists and won lots of awards writing it. But for my creative side, without that balance, it’s too much.
What I do want to write — what I love to write — is the relationships. I love taking two people from being strangers, friends or enemies to that forever-and-ever, happily-ever-after. I love developing their characters to the degree that readers recognize them down deep.
The thing that’s new for me is my interest in other relationships. If you’d told me five years ago that I’d be yearning to write women’s fiction, I would have laughed. I didn’t read women’s fiction; why in the world would I spend my time writing it?? But that’s exactly where I find myself now. I want to explore not only the whys and hows of a man and a woman falling in love, but also their relationships with their friends, children and parents. I want to write about a character’s life, not just her romance with Mr. Right.
What’s stopping me? Nothing, really, but time. I’ve got a romantic suspense in revisions, and a RS novella due March 1st (romance, suspense and Christmas — all in 80 pages or less — aacckk!!). And, honestly, a little fear of the unknown. Out of 70-some books, only one didn’t have a single full sex scene in it. (The heroine was 8 months pregnant as the result of a one-night stand with the hero; he came back to town, and they had a month to fall in love before the baby was born.) Can I really write an entire novel without one love scene? And will readers who expect romance and suspense from me be satisfied with women’s fiction instead?
Since I think I’m going to have to write what’s caught my interest, I guess I’ll fnd out sometime soon.