“I don’t find writing romance restrictive. I find it liberating.”
Mills & Boon author Michelle Douglas tells us why she loves being a romance author and reader.
The romance genre speaks to me more than any other genre and I’ve wondered about this a lot. One of the reasons, perhaps, is that at heart romance is about joy and there are so few books out there that deal in joy.
Please don’t think I’m a soft-in-the-head Pollyanna with no grip on reality. I’m educated (I’ve the Master of Philosophy to prove it). I love the classics and I love an angst-ridden literary tale as much as the next person, but romance has become my go-to genre.
It has become the genre of my heart.
I love writing romance. I love reading romance. Romances serve to remind me of what’s important—and that’s people and love. By love I’m not just referring to romantic love, but the love people bear for their families and friends too. To be loved and accepted is a basic human need. In that sense romance speaks to an essential and central part of what it means to be human. And when a romance ends with two people I’ve come to care about declaring and celebrating their love for each other within their community, it feels as if all is right with the world. Emotional justice, at least in the pages of this book, has triumphed. It is glorious and life affirming.
I love writing romance. The romances published by Harlequin Mills & Boon are short, intense and emotional, but that doesn’t mean they lack diversity. As a writer, I’ve been free to explore themes as diverse as breast cancer, rape, parenthood, second chances and the meaning of friendship. I’ve explored the effects of domestic violence, the grief of losing a loved one, the importance of fidelity and the impact of betrayal. I don’t find writing romance restrictive. I find it liberating.
I love reading romance. As a reader I can always find a romance to suit my mood, whether I want something sparkling and fun that will make me laugh, something dark and dramatic to get my heart pounding, or something warm and emotional that will confirm my belief in the basic goodness and decency of people. There isn’t another genre that gives me this range of choice.
Don’t believe me? Just have a glance at the variety on offer among Australian Mills & Boon authors. Compare Marion Lennox’s gorgeous modern-day fairy tales that will wrap you in warmth to Annie West’s glamorous and dramatic stories that will have your heart in you mouth. Pick up a Kelly Hunter romance and watch in awe as she pushes the genetic boundaries with stories full of honesty and sass. Read a Sarah Mayberry and marvel at exceptional storytelling. The romance genre has all this and more, and Australian romance authors are at the top of the game.
I love writing romance. I love reading romance. I hope you do too.
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
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