by Camela Thompson
I sat down to write a romance with a heavy dose of comedy. When I riff with friends, I can be funny. I like a smart romance where the heroine is witty and the hero is attracted to the full package (brains, people, her brains). It seemed like a good idea at the time and it would make my mom happy. She didn't envision her daughter as an author, but she heard that research trips are tax deductible. Why not pick somewhere she's always wanted to go? Provence, Tuscany, and Nice all sounded like reasonable options.
I could work with a setting in a new country. Maybe my characters are both bumbling Americans. She's taking a sabbatical after working since high school, through college, and burning out with spectacular flare at her corporate gig. He's taking a few weeks to deal with a death in the family in his own way. It isn't the right time for love, but that seems to be when the magic happens.
Two chapters in, things went horribly wrong. My heroine woke up covered in gore next to her inn keeper's remains with no memory of the events immediately leading up to her black out. Oops. That doesn't make her a very likable prospect, does it? I suppose the hero could be the only person who thinks she may be innocent--lacking the bias against Americans. Then I began cackling and plotting out the twist at the end.
I scrapped the chapter and started over. This time the heroine began to suspect the stranger sharing her flat had Munchausen by proxy and used poison to force her into "quality time at home." This stranger expected our heroine to react with gratitude after being so well taken care of in her sick bed away from home.
After hitting delete, I dug deep and created a lovely scene with a little bit of tension between our main characters. As they moved in close to share that important first kiss, some a**hole pushed a street artist in front of a bus.
My brand of "romance" is the one-sided
At about this time I realized that my streak of humor can be "off putting." Particularly if someone expects a romance and I deliver five dead bodies and a warped heroine that's marginally likable.
My family isn't sure why I write "weird stuff." I'm not either. I joke they made me this way, and a few of them took that retort to heart. At first my mom was convinced I write about grisly murder scenes and paranormal creatures because of an early brush with Satan and/or poor parenting. I've assured her many times that I do not walk the Left Hand Path, nor do I have any inclination. I also do not want to see, smell, or hear about exploded remains. I prefer my violence to be firmly based in fiction and shy from the news.
I get why my friends and coworkers look at me a little sideways after reading my stuff. Truly. I'd love to have lunch with Stephen King, but after poring over some of his work, I picture him as an odd guy. The stuff he writes is so psychologically twisted, it conflicts with people reporting how nice he is. Which is silly because...double standards. Then again, the people who really knew me weren't all that surprised. Well, maybe they were surprised by Olivia's hope chest, but only a little.
I can write paranormal. I can write straight-up suspense or horror or even romantic suspense. But the stories I write are the stories that won't go away unless I write them because something inside of me needs to get out.
I hear erotica is a great way to make money as an author. I'm told I should write more blogs or articles--then try to sell them. I've also heard I should change a book to hit the next big trend, or write more mainstream material to appeal to a wider audience. For now, I'm not sure it's a good idea to force my way into a romance. If the story isn't begging to be told, how can it be as good as the novels clamoring to be written?
Check out how some other authors feel about this topic:
Michael G. Munz
Freelance writer and Dark urban fantasy author featuring vampires with bite.