Those who know me well, family and friends who have been in my life for a long time, must be totally baffled by the fact that I write—of all things—romance. If I am being totally honest, I am baffled myself. Somebody asked me the same question the other day and I couldn’t give her an answer. I have always enjoyed a good mystery and I am pretty awesome when it comes to research (okay, I know I am tooting my own horn. Just go with it.) so I decided to do a little digging into my own motives and drive.
As a child I was always told I was “cold”. I don’t think there was a single person, my parents included, who thought I was a warm, fuzzy child. My sister was sweet and loving and everybody loved her. I was prickly, reserved, and not a fan of hugs and kisses. I was always compared to my namesake, a paternal great-aunt who was the family matriarch, famous for her Ice-Queen attitude. I have since then realized things are not always what they seem and that the so-called Ice-Queen was a great big softy inside. Like me she was a contradiction in terms. Paradoxically my intellectual, educated and down-to-earth aunt read romance after romance and wrote poetry.
I used to get upset when people told me I was just like her, but not anymore. I think I understand her much better than she ever allowed anyone to. Since I am a lot more like her than I care to admit, getting to understand her helped me understand myself. My aunt was very reserved, very “proper” and collected. I don’t think I ever saw her losing her temper even in a house full of boys. Unable to have children, she adopted four nephews and one niece when their mother fell ill and passed away. Later she also brought home my young widowed grandma and her two boys. I can only imagine the ruckus having two sons myself. It was a full-house any time of the day, any day of the week.
Being a modern woman, she played sports, worked full time, and married in her early thirties. Her husband was a handsome man who enjoyed his social life and worked for a newspaper. Their relationship remains a mystery to this day. Rumors of his “indiscretions” were not uncommon. However, he seemed genuinely fond of her and I truly believe she died of a heartbreak shortly after he passed away. My writer’s imagination has created a whole lot of scenarios for their “love story”.
Through it all she was—or seemed—detached, cold. Everyone around had to abide by very strict rules of conduct, but she also shared her love for literature, history and the arts with all around her. I owe her my love for the arts; painting, dance, music, reading, and of course writing. She introduced me to opera, ballet and New Year’s Day was not a holiday unless we sat around her massive table watching the New Year’s Concert broadcasted live from Vienna, Austria.
Although I grew to love everything beautiful and peaceful, life showed me that, often, happy endings only happen in stories. I left my country and my family to follow a romantic dream and quickly found out that in between the happy days there were a lot of unhappy ones, filled with loneliness and sadness. I quickly learned that Prince Charming is often just a flawed man with annoying quirks and irritating habits. I found out that loving someone does not mean you share the same tastes, the same hobbies. I realize now that men in general are not good listeners (go figure) and that your children do not always turn up the way you had hoped. There was illnesses and heartache. I learned that love and dedication are not always enough for a marriage to survive. In short, life often sucks big time.
Reading and writing romance offers me an escape from the ugliness of this world, a way to make my heart sing and feel that warm fuzzy feeling inside that you felt with your first touch of the hands, your first kiss. It allows me to dream again if only for a moment. Just like my aunt, a closet romantic herself, I escape the disappointments of life by immersing myself in the goodness of a love story, the intense feelings of passion, the satisfaction of a happy ending. Romance is like a Vermeer; peaceful, beautiful, and glowing. What’s not to like?
That’s why I write romance even though people will tell you I am the least romantic person in the world. What about you? Why do you like romance? Or maybe you don’t. I would love to hear your thoughts.