This is a great question. The answer I’m going to give you is long, and it’s part of a post I made over at Romancing The Blog, but it explains why I love the genre as much as I do:
I came to the genre of romance writing late in my career. For a while, I was writing poetry and short stories, and then I moved into the more academic world of studying and dissecting literature and finally teaching. And then I was trying to write the great American novel, but nothing ever came of it. And then I had a baby.
And then my world changed forever.
Romance gave me that brief respite I needed when I couldn’t deal with doctors and nurses and beeping machines and people telling me things might be taking a turn for the worst, and most of all from the guilt of not being able do more to help my daughter. All I could do was sit there and wait. In the romances of Tami Hoag’s Lucky’s Lady, Suzanne Brockmann’s Out of Control and Cherry Adair’s Kiss and Tell, I was able to lose myself in a totally different world, one where happy endings abounded and the hero and heroine saved each other.
I don’t know if any of these authors will ever know how they saved me, but ladies, you did it in a major way. You made me want to pay it forward by writing romance novels and deepened my respect for both writers and readers of the genre.
I also don’t know if romance writers fully comprehend how much good they do, how much joy they bring to people everywhere, every day, but I’m going to attest to it here from firsthand knowledge. I’m not really sure that any other genre can quite claim to do the same thing, so this is my thank you to all of from this reader of romance. Romance writers possess a greater courage than they know (beyond dealing with the stereotypes they’re often labeled with) – they dive into the complex emotions that surround love and sex and men and women, and they delve and prod the human psyche and create characters so memorable I’d swear some of them were alive. And that’s what I strive to do in every book I write.
So, how else do I pay it forward as a writer of the genre?
I try and create heroines I know my daughter would be proud of, or proud to be. They might not be as strong physically as my heroes, but they can kick ass, all-around, any day of the week, once they’re up and running. And yes, they often need to be saved on some level, but don’t we all? I try and explore the symbolism of the save on many different levels – the physical save and the emotional one, the obvious save and the save you didn’t even realize you needed.
My daughter’s getting better every day, and so is my writing. I’m proud to call myself a romance writer, and I just hope that one day I’m given the chance to help a reader lose themselves for just a few hours. Because, in the end, it’s all about giving someone their HEA.