If I hadn’t taken a very long trip with a very small backpack, I would never have become a romance writer.
As a former paperback purist, I thought eBooks of any kind were the work of the devil. I watched bookstore after bookstore being forced to close, and felt like making socially unacceptable hissing noises whenever I saw one of the Kindles or Kobos that replaced them. I wondered how anyone could ever give up the feeling of tracing their fingers over a favourite page.
Desperate times do call for desperate measures though, and so does a desperate lack of space. When I decided to hop on a one way flight to Asia with nothing more than a carryon bag, I bit the bullet and went back on my word. My Kindle arrived in the mail, and my tiny backpack and I headed off on an adventure.
This is where we get to the overly honest part of the blog post, but I think it’s something to which a lot of romance readers can relate: sometimes you just want to read something sexy. Sick and stuck in bed in Cambodia, I bought my first indie romance novel thinking, “Oh what the hell, it’s only ninety-nine cents and I want to read about people getting it on.” I still had the perception that a lot of people hold towards romance: that they’re books to be laughed at and read in secret.
I didn’t stop after that first book, though, or the second. In fact, I was hooked. An addiction to romance novels is supposed to be an embarrassing hobby, but the more I read, the more I realized how untrue that statement has become. Ebooks and indie publishing have given readers and writers the ability to set their own expectations. Romance has become a source of empowerment, especially for women, allowing them to voice what they like and want.
What I found romance readers want isn’t the typical damsel in distress image associated with the genre; the Amazon bestsellers list is filled with heroines who are downright badass. The female leads I read about are multifaceted and complex. They have goals and passions, and they aren’t afraid to go after what they want. They’re also unique, and the variety in romance today is a beautiful example of how there isn’t just one way for a woman to be strong.
"The variety in romance today is a beautiful example of how there isn’t just one way for a woman to be strong."
That same strength shows in the women who write and read romance. It’s an incredibly community based genre, and the support I see people offering one another, along with the deep bonds that are formed because of it, still amazes me to no end.
I know it’s a trope to say this, but I’ve always been a writer. I went to a Fame-esque arts high school to study it, and before I dropped out of university for the second time (both times were so that I could travel, my other great love) I was going to study it there, too. Eventually it occurred to me that I didn’t just want to be a romance reader; I wanted to write it too.
I’m in the very early days yet, and questioning that decision at every turn. There’s already been a rollercoaster’s worth of ups and downs, but despite that, I know this is something that means too much to me to walk away from.
I’ll still never be able to give up the feeling of having a book in my hands, but more often than not you can find my with my Kindle, flipping through the digital pages of my latest romance find. I feel very lucky to have stumbled my way into the romance community, and I don’t intend to leave anytime soon.