Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Your First Romance

by Sariah S. Wilson

My oldest son has finally read my books.

This, he informed me, is solely due to him not having enough to read. He reads as quickly as I do, and devours books on a daily basis. It is hard to keep up with that kind of appetite.

I know this, because I used to be him.

I would read and re-read my books (he's gone through the entire "Harry Potter" series seven times. Which I am reminded of in moments such as last night, while watching the movie "Rudy" together, he laughed when he saw the opening credits and someone on the crew was named Oliver Wood. It took me a minute to get it). I also got into fantasy because of the book devouring - my father is a fan and I started off with Terry Brooks' "Sword of Shannara" (a series which I got my husband hooked on as well, and am embarrassed to admit we seriously considered the name Shannara for our daughter).

But it is my mom we have to blame for my current writing predilection. Because after I'd gone through most of the books in the house, I found my mother's romance novels.

Now, back then, romance novels were still (on the whole) pretty clean (of course there were exceptions, but the majority, particularly the Harlequins, were still sweet).

I remember the first romance I ever read. It was a Harlequin, and it had a ruthless Greek shipping tycoon as the hero, and a red-headed spunky heroine. Their conflict was that he had destroyed her father financially, and she would never, ever forgive him.

I was totally caught up in it. That cad! How could he? And how could she be attracted to him? Even if he was totally gorgeous?

But then they had an honest conversation and it was revealed...that he had no hand in her father's financial failure, could prove that this was so, and her heart melted like an ice cube in July.

And then, THEN, he told her that he loved her! What? This handsome, charming, intelligent, sophisticated, worldly, wealthy man loved her? Wow! I couldn't believe it. My heart thrilled at the idea that such a thing could happen (I'm pretty sure I was like 12 or 13). Both the heroine and I were shocked and happy, especially since she had fallen in love with him too. And he wanted to marry her. Happy day!

I was excited for my next romance. Only this time...this time it wasn't very exciting. It just wasn't the same.

My son read my first book and came in bouncing to tell me that he had loved it, that I was an awesome writer, even better than JK Rowling (his words, I promise, not mine because I happen to know that is not true, but I think it was the highest praise that he could ever give me). I asked him what his favorite part was, thinking it would be some of the action or fight scenes, and he told me it was when they were going to get married. "I couldn't believe they loved each other!"

Books 2 and 3 held no such appeal for him and he asked me what was with all the stupid lovey-dovey junk. I'm pretty sure he only finished #2 because he had nothing else to read.

I remember telling my mom that her romance novels were stupid. I was educated in AP/Honors English classes and as I constantly studied the classics and learned all the ways they were vastly superior to popular fiction (although I am of the opinion that anyone who requires another student to read "Jude the Obscure" should be horsewhipped. "Done because we were too many" is a line from a horrific scene in that book that has stuck with me almost 20 years that I would very much like to erase from my mind). I'm pretty sure I lectured her on how she wasn't reading quality fiction and how she was missing out.

But I noticed, as I read, that I always wanted to know more about the people who fell in love. And how much I adored when we read Jane Austen - here there were finally people who got to fall in love and it was the entire point of the story! Awesome!

In fiction I had the same issue. I wanted the romance and more of it. Yeah, I was interested in the world blowing up or aliens kidnapping dogs, but I wanted to get more of the hero and heroine together as they fell in love.

I tried reading a couple of romances in college from LDS authors, and...I wasn't happy. Definite wall bangers. Plus, I was so busy missing classes and forgetting to go to the testing center for tests that I just didn't have time to read anything for enjoyment.

Particularly after the semester where I took six classes in my major (history) so I could finish on time. Six history classes. Do you have any idea the amount of reading involved with six history classes?

I remember reading being ruined for me. I didn't want to pick up another book and pick it apart, looking for themes and motifs and foreshadowing and symbolism and metaphors - I just wanted to read.

And when I was ready...I gravitated to romances. I started reading them, and I started writing them. I'm pretty sure I could write other genres (my dad has some great ideas for suspense/thrillers), but I'm not really sure that I want to. This is what I love.

So for anyone who reads romance (on purpose), do you remember the first romance you read? What sorts of romance do you like to read now?


At 11/08/2009 10:47 PM, Blogger GoletaGlenns said...

I can remember 2 that I read- Gone With the Wind, of course, and one by an LDS writer who I don't remember but it was called "Valley of Fire". Man oh man, I think I was 13 or something and I must have read that book to shreds!

Great post!

At 11/08/2009 11:20 PM, Blogger Melanie J said...

Funnily enough, my dad was the romance reader in our house. He had two shelves of romances written by Emilie Loring in the 1950s. In high school and college, I liked the Regency romances. Now . . .I really don't read many romances because it's hard to find clean ones. If anything, I guess I find some in the YA market and some in the LDS market. My friend Aubrey Mace has two really fun romances in Spare Change and Santa, Maybe. That's what I'd like to see more of: well-written romance that doesn't take itself too seriously.

At 11/09/2009 12:58 AM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

I do remember the first one I read and years later, I found it again and re-read it. I still love it, though I don't read romance much these days.

At 11/09/2009 11:20 AM, Blogger Carolyn V. said...

The first romance I read was written in the '50s or something long ago. I reread it a few years ago and found out it wasn't near as good as I had thought it was the first time. What was I thinking?

At 11/09/2009 3:03 PM, Blogger Sandra said...

I don't remember the first romance, probably something written for YA in the 50/60's. But I do remember reading Harlequins and probably even the Greek shipping tycoon was among them. I purged my personal library of them a few years ago, except for my 2 favorite.

They are my favorite for the same reason that I pick up a romance today- Neither the hero nor the heroine are perfect, they are flawed and they both know it. And love each other anyway. Oh, and she pounds nails and he does dishes- perfect.


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