Monday, March 5, 2018

To Life!

“Life resembles a novel more often than novels resemble life.” – George Sand, French author (1804 – 1876).

How true is that quote? I think that’s one of the reasons why so many of us write fiction, whether it’s romance or some other genre. Life is sometimes too bizarre to be believed, along with some of the characters who populate our everyday existence. I once heard a friend tell someone “Now you’ll end up as a character in Tim’s next book.” I wasn’t sure how to take that, because most of the people I meet wouldn’t make believable characters in the first place.

I ran across a story that posed the question “Why don’t romance novels get the respect they deserve?” The writer pointed out the many variations and sub-genres available to readers, and confirmed that e-book sales for romances outsell every other genre. I have a theory about why this is the case, especially when it comes to erotic romance. When you’re using your Kindle or Nook, no one can see what your reading. This comes in handy if the cover or title contains something lurid or suggestive. This is probably why a piece of dreck like “50 Shades of Lousy Writing” became an international bestseller. It also backed up my opinion that some die hard romance junkies will read absolutely anything.

Image is everything, and apparently many people not in the know still think of “bodice rippers” when you mention romance novels. This is frustrating for someone like me who writes mystery thrillers and private eye stories that are heavy on romance and sex. It’s been pointed out that most people who trash romance novels don’t read them in the first place. A quote I read claimed that many of these folks blow it off as “F*** fiction” and think that only women read it. I hate to think where that puts me, since I’ve read a few hot romances that weren’t my own. Many of them didn’t qualify as “F books,” but there was plenty of steam.

Personally, I embrace the opportunity to mix some romance in with my mystery plots. I especially enjoy writing the flirting and teasing parts of the relationships I develop, and using witty, realistic dialogue to make the point. To me, there’s something satisfying and fun about creating that magic moment where the two people realize that they’re falling for each other. Perhaps it’s more like recreating, trying to relive those same magic moments from my own past, when I realized I’d found someone I really wanted to be with. The giddy thrill I got from imagining that special someone being the first person I saw every morning and the last person I saw every night. The companion who was straight out of a beautifully crafted romance story. To wit:

“Do you remember what you said once, about how we’d both been hit by a few bad relationships?” Sam asked.

Rachel nodded her head.

“You were right,” he continued. “At first, I was afraid I was going to get hurt again, then I realized something I hadn’t felt for a long time. I was really more afraid of hurting you.”

“Hurting me how?”

“I was afraid I was starting to like you too much, and if things didn’t work out, you’d get hurt. I didn’t want that to happen to you.”

Rachel had a confused look. “How can you like someone too much?”

Sam took a deep breath and slowly exhaled, deciding it was time to go for broke. “When you get up in the morning thinking of someone and you can’t get them out of your head for the rest of the day. When you’re doing something you enjoy and you wish they were there to share it with you. When you’re with someone else and you keep thinking of the other person. That’s how you can like someone too much.”

(From “Anywhere the Heart Goes.”)

Perhaps George Sand really had it figured out.

* * *

Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author of romantic mystery/thrillers and contemporary erotic romance His website is www.timsmithauthor.com.


Fiona McGier said...

Tim, I don't know why well-written books like yours, don't get more readers. Especially since yours are heavy on the suspense and action...kind of like "romance noir." If more men would give romance a try, they'd be pleasantly surprised. More women also, for that matter.

I've taken to wearing a button around that says, "Reading is Sexy." I get them from the Northern Sun company, on-line. Then when people comment on how much they like it, because they're readers, or someone they know is, I give them a button along with a business card. Don't know if it will increase sales, but I've always been the kind of person who chats up complete strangers. I wish I had a nickel for everyone who asks, "What do you write?", then when I reply, "Romance," they make a face like they just stepped in something yucky...I'd have a lot more money than I ever make on royalties!

Tina Donahue said...

Totally agree with what Fiona said about your work Tim. So many people trash romance thinking it's easy 'junk' to write. Ha! I can write suspense with my eyes closed and half drunk. I can write dialogue when I'm on auto pilot. But feelings? God almighty they are hard to get down on the page. I'm thinking people trash romance because it's women's work. Like having a baby isn't hard either. Getting emotions on the page and conveying them to the reader without sounding maudlin is the hardest thing I've done, hands down.

Tim Smith said...

Thank you both for the kind words. Fiona, I'm going to look for some of those buttons. Great idea!

Tina, you couldn't be more on target. If you're someone who doesn't easily express their emotions in the first place, putting them in writing is tough. Worse because we can't rely on physical communication the way actors do. Surely it must be easier to act out a love scene than write one.