Hi. My name is Barbara and I am a romance novelist.
Hold up. Come again?
It’s true. I always wanted to be a writer, but of great masterpieces like F. Scott
Fitzgerald, W. Somerset Maugham and other authors who were so good, they only had to use the first letter of their first names.
Maybe that’s why, after revealing the genre in which I am now published, raised eyebrows are the only reaction I get from friends who knew me “back when.”
“Back” being when I was on the brink of earning my master’s degree in “Professional Writing.”
Despite my lofty literary aspirations, I had a rather free-spirited friend who took one look at me in a business suit as I was heading to my internship at a downstate law office (don’t ask), and said, “Who are you kidding? You’re gonna end up writing romance novels and you know it.”
Because this particular friend had a way of seeing right through all manner of pretense, she had an uncanny ability to see into the future. My future. Her comment unnerved me.
The rack of cheap bodice-ripping paperbacks I had passed in the drugstore earlier that day whilst purchasing pantyhose came to mind.
“Yeah, right,” I replied. “Ha. Ha.”
But when she gave me a large hard-copy tome entitled, “How to Write a Romance Novel” a few weeks later for a graduation gift, my reaction was not unlike that of the little girl in the movie “Fatal Attraction” on discovering what had happened to her pet bunny.
Maybe that’s why I ran as fast as I could to the first technical writing job I could get my hands on. That’s a legitimate career, I told myself. Can’t get more validated than that, right?
I ate my words, years later, when I met my still free-spirited friend for lunch and bemoaned my soul-crushing career decision. No, I didn’t divulge any regret over not having written cheap, trashy dime store romances.
I regretted my decision to dismiss even well-written romances as trash (read: not literature).
Then I went home and looked at my bookshelves full of “literature” written by Franz Kafka, Elie Wiesel, Thomas Hardy and a number of other somber writers. Masterpieces, sure, but let’s face it – all really depressing. And I hadn’t read a single one since grad school.
My friend was right. It was inevitable. I’m a happy ending kind of girl.
And as wonderful as it is to read stories with happy endings (sorry, Mr. Maugham), I feel honored to be able to write them.
And I’m so very grateful that you like them.
B. Patrice Valentin