Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What’s real in romance books?

We're delighted to welcome our very first guest blogger--Nikki Duncan! Nikki's first novel for Samhain is Sounds To Die By. To learn more about Nikki and her books, visit her Web site, http://www.nikkiduncan.com.

Okay, so when people find out someone writes romance, there seem to be three camps of thought.

Camp 1 is readers. They want the names of the books so they can go buy them.

Camp 2 is entertaining, at least for me. These people are the ones that assume romance writers have amazing, adventurous romantic lives. We have highly active, imaginative and adventurous sex lives. Our husbands are all super lucky that we practice our scenes on them. If it’s in our books then it must be real.

Camp 3 is frustrating and in need of education, though most of them aren’t open-minded enough to hear the logical points. This is the group of people that believe romance novels are dirty and nasty. They are not real books or they’re a waste of shelf space, or that a person should be ashamed to read one. Some feel that romance leads women (readers) to have false expectations from a relationship, after all who can expect to have what the couples in romance novels find?

So here’s the reality of our real lives. We romance writers do not live in alternate universes or on other planets. We do not pretend to be strippers, hookers, cops or whatever else to catch a killer. We don’t battle demons or have relationships with shifters. Sorry to disappoint.

There are some elements of our stories that are real. My favorite authors and books all offer the same things.
~ An escape from whatever is going on in my life for the time it takes me to read the book.
~ A meaningful relationship between two people who love each other.
~ A hero who know how to respect a woman, and while he may be a jerk on occasion, he has core values and does not cross the lines into abuse. He doesn’t hit her or belittle her.
~ A hero that always tries to make the right decisions.
~ A couple that is dedicated exclusively to the relationship and is perfectly happy to be with their chosen mate/spouse/significant other.
~ A couple that likes to be with each other. They are happier together than apart.
~ A couple that accepts one another despite and sometimes because of their flaws.

I shrug off a lot of the questions I get asked when people find out I write romance, but when someone asks if I base my heroes after my own husband, my answer is yes. Those people that feel a woman has unreasonable expectations if she tries to hold out for a romance novel hero are wrong. My husband and I just celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. It hasn’t been all sunshine and butterflies, but he is my hero. He is the father of my children, my confidant, my biggest supporter, and my best friend. If you read my stories, you will find my husband in every one of my heroes-he is the best parts of each one.

My first story, SOUNDS TO DIE BY, just released from Samhain Publishing. The hero in that story is a grumpy blind man with some of the most amazing abilities. He also encompasses all of the character traits I’ve mentioned. They’re both flawed and far from perfect, but only together do they find the connection we all want.

So tell me, what’s your view on romance? Can you have what the book heroines find? Do you have it already? Is it all a figment of our imaginations?


Nikki Duncan said...

Thanks for having me here!

Maggie J said...

Nikki,I loved your book!!
Theres nothing like a look,casual touch from my guy.I already have it and I think anyone could.

Heather Long said...

Best line in this blog for me: A couple that likes to be with each other. They are happier together than apart. Because that's what it comes down too -- that's what makes a relationship work. I don't get the couples that fight so much or hate being with each other, yet we are supposed to buy that their passion is enough.

Great great blog!

PG Forte said...

Hi, Nikki. Glad you could join us!

In answer to your question, I know it's possible. I didn't want to mention it yesterday, in the midst of all our partying, but November 9th is a very special day to me. It's the anniversary of the day my husband and I first realized we wanted to be exclusive--after a couple of months of well...non-exclusivity. lol!

Don't want to say how many years ago that was--suffice it to say I've spent two-thirds of my life with the man. And he can still take my breath away.

Juniper Bell said...

Wonderful blog, Nikki! I went through a lot of bad relationships to find my own personal romance hero, and along the way I almost lost faith. The strange thing was, I met my sweetie soon after I started writing romance! Coincidence? Destiny? Or did my imagination help bring him into my life? The universe works in mysterious ways ... ;)

Nikki Duncan said...

Maggie, thank you.

Heather, it sounds like it's a small thing to think a couple would like each other, but sometimes I think that's as important if not more so than love.

PG, congrats on the special day!

Juniper, I think it does have something to do with what we put out there. And I'm happy that you didn't give up.

Erin Nicholas said...

Hi, Nikki! Welcome!
I tell my husband (of 15 years too!) that true love is knowing someone's every flaw... and wanting to be with them anyway! *G*

PG, I think it's awesome you celebrate that special day! My husband and I still go out every year on the day we started dating (long, long ago in a galaxay...)

Kelly Jamieson said...

Great blog post Nikki! I would add that I like to read romance because of the strong heroines, too. Even when they're down and facing challenges, they can rise above it and grow. And if they also end up with love...all the better! Many of those who criticize romance seem to think the heroine's goal is to find love, or find a man, and these days, romance stories are about so much more than that!

Skylar Kade said...

Love the post, Nikki. I'm with Juniper on this one -- I had become quite cynical about the "romance hero delusion." That is, of course, until I met my SO. Here's hoping I can make it to where all of you are with your husbands.

Nikki Duncan said...

Erin, I love the bit about loving someone when you know all of their flaws. Too often in today's society it's easy to use those flaws as excuses to walk. Granted, sometimes walking is the right thing to do, but I do love CIS with all of his flaws.

Kelly,you're right about the heroines. I think romances not only show women what to look for in a man, but also what to expect of themselves. They teach us that we all have an inner strength and can overcome hard times.

Keep working at it Skylar. It's not easy, but the payoff is tremendous.

flchen1 said...

Hi, Nikki! Just wanted to say hi, and I definitely enjoyed your post today! As for romance and romance heroines, I don't think I have everything they all have (not humanly possible!), but I've got some of it, and I love the hope I get from reading romance, because some of that is possible for all of us. And maybe more than we might think :) Keep writing, all of you!

Lisa G said...

Hey Nikki. I loved "Sounds to Die By" and can't wait for book #2. I think we need romance novels to inspire us, whether to keep looking for the "one" or to work on our existing relationships. Nobody's perfect, but somebody is perfect for me and I'm perfect for somebody.

Gabrielle Jones said...

Hi Nikki. I'm sorry to say I haven't read yours or any of the other samhain novelists mentioned above. Eventually I hope to remove myself from the list of people who haven't read Samhain Publishing books, but I had a question. As an asspiring writer. Is it better to write about what you know?

Gabrielle J.

Nikki Duncan said...

Absolutely, Lisa G. CIS and I aren't perfect, but we're perfect for each other.

Gabrielle, Good News! There's plenty of time to remedy the situation of having not read a Samhain author. Go now. And seriously, as an aspiring author it may be easier for you to write what you know, but don't feel obligated to do it. How many of us know about vampires, demons, witches, shifters, or being cops? See, write what speaks to you. Write what you're passionate about. Research the rest.

Tami Brothers said...

Great blog post, Nikki! And great blog, ladies!!! LOVE IT!!!

I can totally relate. I just celebrated my 18th and I feel the same as you do. My husband is in everyone of my heros. Maybe he doesn't look exactly like them or have those really cool jobs, but I take bits and pieces here and there.

Thanks for a great post!

Tami Brothers
Petit Fours and Hot Tamales Blog