If you asked me five years ago if I’d be writing romance and absolutely loving it, I would’ve laughed at you. Why? Well, I’m a huge tomboy, and growing up, the romance genre seemed to have no place for me. My glimpses into it was hyper-feminine girls, ultra-masculine guys–both things I veered away from in a big way. After all, I detest pigheaded, overly macho guys, and I hate being talked down to. My limited exposure taught me that romance as a genre was all about that.
Except it’s not. I wrote my first romance novella on a whim, just curious to explore a new genre and write a fun story about selkies (That’s By the Sea, by the way :P) as I dove further into writing the genre, I also began to read more paranormal romance, immersing myself in the stories. That’s when I first discovered the genre held more depth than I thought it did, more diversity, more variety than the rigid lines my exposure had gleaned me. As I dove deeper, I read stories with strong women, with softer men, ones with every sort of kink imaginable, every type of personality explored. Assault survivors, abuse survivors, people with horrifying pasts were featured in these books, their damage brought to the plate as they fought to heal from it so they could be in happy, committed relationships.
There was a depth to many of these stories that I hadn’t at first anticipated, and I began to believe differently than I’d thought from the beginning. Maybe the romance genre did have a place for a bossy tomboy like me. Older stories that adhered more rigidly to gender norms and stereotypes had no appeal to me, but I fast began to see that a lot of modern day romance authors were feminists like myself, and that their beliefs wove into their work seamlessly. Once I realized I didn’t have to become hyper-feminine to read and write romance, that I could be the rough-talking, crude chick I’ve always been I dove headfirst into the genre and I haven’t regretted it once.
Truth be told, I don’t want other women to experience what I did–feeling not-female because I didn’t adhere to the stereotypes of my gender, because I didn’t want to coo over purses and shoes growing up. I want women and men both to be able to enjoy romance, because I think emotional exploration is important, but to do that, to engage both sexes, feminism is beyond important. Men have to be allowed to be soft, to be real, to have doubts and fears and hopes, rather than representation as some grunting macho stud who can’t have emotions. And women need to be able to flourish, for their strengths to be highlighted, not quashed, and their personalities shine off the page.
So, I’ll continue writing my feminist brand of romance to prove that there are a thousand shades of strength in both sexes, and that our gender need not define our personalities. That we as human beings are complex, multi-faceted creatures worth exploring.
And, if you’re looking for a diverse and feminist urban fantasy to plunge into, Philadelphia Coven Chronicles will definitely be up your alley.
Thanks for tuning in!
That being said, 2016 WAS a difficult year. There were so many curveballs that made me have to think quick, on my feet, and replan. So many hopes I had that fizzled out, rejections to weather, and some really significant deaths as well, of a friend earlier in the year and then later my grandfather.
Writing has always been my solace, my way of processing, and my way of fighting, and because of all the external things, I think I had one of my most productive years. Most of the Philadelphia Coven Chronicles books were written this year, and I wrote like I was running out of time (thanks, Hamilton), perhaps because of all the death experienced, of all the loss my friends and family also suffered.
In 2016, we bore witness to some ugly realities–war, death, hatred, so very, very much hatred. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say it shaped me and affected the way I want to write from here on out. I’m proudly feminist, but I wasn’t doing my part in diversity in my earlier works–that changes from here on out. I’m going to write books that defy boundaries, that defeat prejudice, and that show people how to love again–how to hope. Lofty words, so you’d better all hold me to it. I’m writing the stories I love, but with a renewed purpose and with a renewed vigor to fight in 2017 in my own way.
As for you, my lovely friends and readers, I want to thank you from the very depths of my heart. You were the light to my dark days, the reminder that someone IS listening, the support and spark I needed to keep writing and coming up with stories when I had a tough time. I love your enthusiasm, I love your comments on my site, and I value each and every one of you. I am overfilled with gratitude for you all.
2016 was a rough year, and we may have rough times to come, but I always have hope for a better future, for one that we can create ourselves, here and now.