Why I Write Romance
I am not the sappiest of women. I dislike Valentine’s Day, red roses, champagne, overblown engagement proposals, diamonds, high-heeled shoes, Nicholas Sparks novels—the list goes on. I’m a feminist and a professional, an educated, moderately worldly woman. And yet I write, read, and adore romance novels. What’s that all about?
It’s a question that few people who read and write romance ever think to ask me, but a common one from people who are outside the genre. For many romance writers, it inspires a defense of the genre’s inherent value, but I’m going to take that as a given. If you don’t believe romance novels have value, I’m not the person to convince you. Perhaps, to you, they don’t. That’s fine. There are enough people who enjoy them already. We don’t particularly need converts.
Instead, I’ll say that as a writer and a reader, what interests me most is character. Plot is fine, but I’ve never been the sort of reader who reads for plot. When I read a crime novel, for instance, I never bother trying to guess who the killer is. It's just not how I'm wired. I’m far more interested in what’s happening to the detective himself. And given the nature of what homicide detectives deal with, what’s often happening to the detectives at the center of crime novels is that they’re falling apart.
Fascinating, but not very redemptive. And while I’m not, as I’ve said, a particularly sappy woman, I am someone who enjoys a happy ending. I like emotional catharsis. Hell, I even cry at movie trailers. Did you see Bridesmaids? It was supposed to be a comedy, and it was funny, yes, but oh my goodness did that movie ever make me weep.
Ahem. What was I saying? Yes. Okay. So romance novels are essentially character studies. They’re stories about two people with significant problems—usually both problems internal to themselves that would exist regardless of the other person and external problems that tangle them up together. The hero and heroine of a romance novel have to grow as individuals in order to solve these problems. Their reward is love.
As someone who finds people fascinating and thinks they’re rarely more so than when they’re getting all tangled up in love and sex and making ridiculous, stupid mistakes (and who’s made a few of these ridiculous, stupid mistakes herself), there’s little more satisfying than reading stories about how love can act as a crucible for personal growth. It buoys up my faith in humanity, which is a worthy goal for fiction, to my way of thinking.
Furthermore, while detractors of romance often say that all the novels are the same, because there’s a “formula,” and “anyone” could write one, those of us who have tried to write a good one might add that the trick is not following a formula, but finding ways to make the journey feel fresh. Romance readers, in general, read a lot of romance. They know the path that these novels tend to follow as well as the authors do. They are highly educated consumers of their chosen genre. And that means, as a novelist, I have the highly satisfactory challenge of trying to surprise and please them with stories that flirt with the conventions but don’t overturn them.
Why would I want to write anything else?
Ride with Me, available from Loveswept on February 13, 2012!
In this fun, scorching-hot eBook original romance by Ruthie Knox, a cross-country bike adventure takes a detour into unexplored passion. As readers will discover, Ride with Me is not about the bike!
When Lexie Marshall places an ad for a cycling companion, she hopes to find someone friendly and fun to cross the TransAmerica Trail with. Instead, she gets Tom Geiger — a lean, sexy loner whose bad attitude threatens to spoil the adventure she’s spent years planning.
Roped into the cycling equivalent of a blind date by his sister, Tom doesn’t want to ride with a chatty, go-by-the-map kind of woman, and he certainly doesn’t want to want her. Too bad the sight of Lexie with a bike between her thighs really turns his crank.
Even Tom’s stubborn determination to keep Lexie at a distance can’t stop a kiss from leading to endless nights of hotter-than-hot sex. But when the wild ride ends, where will they go next?
Ride With Me Excerpt - by author Ruthie Knox
About The Author
Ruthie Knox figured out how to walk and read at the same time in the second grade, and she hasn’t looked up since. She spent her formative years hiding romance novels in her bedroom closet to avoid the merciless teasing of her brothers and imagining scenarios in which someone who looked remarkably like Daniel Day Lewis recognized her well-hidden sex appeal and rescued her from middle-class Midwestern obscurity. After graduating from Grinnell College with an English and history double major, she earned a Ph.D. in modern British history that she’s put to remarkably little use.
These days, she writes contemporary romance in which witty, down-to- earth characters find each other irresistible in their pajamas, though she freely admits this has yet to happen to her. Perhaps she needs more exciting pajamas. Ruthie abhors an epilogue and insists a decent romance requires at least three good sex scenes.
How about you, do you read romance? If so, what about it appeals to you? One lucky commenter will be randomly chosen to win a digital copy of Ride with Me. Winners will pick up their copy through Net Galley. Good luck to all!