My friend and fellow writer, Karen White, tagged me to contribute to Read a Romance Month, in celebration of love in fiction, and I was delighted to do so. Below you’ll find my thoughts on the value of romance in fiction, some fun answers to questions, and a giveaway for my latest novel, THE HOUSE OF HAWTHORNE. Enjoy! xoxoxo
The Joy of Romance
We all need a little love and light in this world, don’t we? One turns on the news and cannot escape evil, darkness, war, murder, and violence. Even the weather channel casts a dark shadow. A good romance is the antidote to all of that.
The novel can be a love letter to books, an ode to a city, a fairy tale or a second chance, a story of deep and abiding friendship, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, a couple from history or from the imagination of a writer. Be it chaste or steamy, serious or humorous, at the very least a romance provides an escape, but at best, brings joy, exuberance, light, and hope into the mind of the reader, and arguably, the world.
I asked the publisher of my latest novel THE HOUSE OF HAWTHORNE for the subtitle, “A Romance.” In his preface to THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES, Nathaniel Hawthorne announced that his book was a romance in this manner:
“The point of view in which this tale comes under the Romantic definition lies in the attempt to connect a bygone time with the very present that is flitting away from us.”
Hawthorne also mentioned the liberties taken by writers of romance to portray the truth of the human heart. I referred to his definition of romance often while writing my novel of the tale of two artists and what they both lost and gained for love. I chose his wife Sophia Peabody Hawthorne to narrate the book because I wished for the novel to be permeated with her immense capacity for hope in spite of the many trying circumstances they faced. While I was not given permission to use my preferred subtitle, THE HOUSE OF HAWTHORNE is by any definition a romance.
Imagine if there were a channel devoted to the good news, to relationships being built instead of destroyed. There is a channel: Romance. It’s a joy to celebrate romance novels and novels that contain romance this month, and I’m honored to be a part of Read A Romance Month.
1 – Tell us about a moment in your life when you experienced sheer joy.
In a little creek off the river where my family likes to fish, there is rope swing tied to an ancient tree on a twenty-foot cliff. Each year I watch teenagers and the occasional adult climb the old ladder past the warning signs to take a ride on the rope. It’s dangerous, old fashioned, 1970s fun, and it took me a long time, but I finally worked up the courage last summer and jumped. It was one of the most terrifying, exhilarating things I’ve ever done, and I’ll never do it again.
2 – Tell us about a place that brings you joy, or is attached to a memory of joy.
Topsail Island, North Carolina has brought me and my family so much joy over the years. From watching dolphins following shrimp boats, to building sandcastles and playing beach volleyball, to watching the birth of sea turtles under a sky full of stars, everything about the place carries away the scar tissue from the year and washes it out to sea, renewing me until my next visit.
3 – Tell us about a sound that brings you joy.
Summer time country music brings me pure joy—“Pontoon” by Little Big Town, “American Kids” by Kenny Chesney, “I Love This Life” by LoCash, “It Can Buy Me A Boat” by Chris Janson: I could go on and on…
4 – What recent book have you read that brought you joy.
THE STORIED LIFE OF A J FIKRY brought me tremendous joy. It’s a novel about an unabashedly nerdy mess of a bookseller on a small New England island. He has lost his wife and a priceless first edition of Poe’s TAMERLANE, but what he gains far outweighs his losses. This book is a gem.
5 – And for fun, the joy of choice, pick a Chris! ;o) Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, Chris Rock, Chris Evans or Christopher Plummer (circ. 1964 aka Capt. Von Trapp.)
Recommendations – I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, either with or without romance. My recent favorites are: Priya Parmar’s VANESSA AND HER SISTER, Allison Pataki’s THE ACCIDENTAL EMPRESS, and Stewart O’Nan’s WEST OF SUNSET.
Drawing – Please leave a comment about your favorite love story in a book or on film for a chance to win a copy of THE HOUSE OF HAWTHORNE. Enter by 9 pm ET on 8/19, and please share on social media. (US residents only, please.)