Okay. I have a rather unabashed reading habit when it comes to devouring romance novels. Y’all have seen me blog on the topic plenty of times. You’ve seen romance on my Goodreads reading challenge year after year, particularly historical romance. You may even know that once upon a time, I tried to write romances–first with the original idea of the Keegan series, then again last year with another incarnation of the same story world.
The slowness and lack of progress with that last project convinced me to put away that story world for good. Also, it convinced me that–at least temporarily–historicals aren’t cutting it for my creative bug right now.
I picked up my first romance novel when I was about 11 or 12. It’s debatable whether it was the Old Skool romance The Taming by Aleen Malcolm, a Harlequin book about a female football coach with MS who falls for the small town’s hot basketball coach, or this one book in a Reader’s Digest volume about a girl named Claire and a boy named Roan who were like neighbors or something, but he was from the wrong side of the tracks and I think his father tried to assault Claire when she was a kid, but then I don’t remember what happened.
Over the years, I’ve gone through times when I’ve read more romance or less romance, when I’ve grown sick of the samey-samey type of romance (which occurs a lot when one tends to read in the same romance subgenre), when I’ve denigrated the writing style and the weirdo plots, and thought I should be writing something More Important or More Literary.
(I am, after all, still a Recovering Writing Major. Shedding that takes time).
But in the past couple of years, I’ve come across new-to-me romance authors and loved their books: Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole, Beverly Jenkins, Alisha Rai, Lucy Parker. Some of them write historicals and some of them write contemporaries, some of their characters are upper class and white, and others are middle and working class and/or not white. What they all have in common is that gushy, reassuring, affirming quality that romance has–with a good healthy dose of human behaviorial studies–and amazing writing.
Last year, I started reading and listening to the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog and its podcast. It is one of the biggest romance novel review sites on the Internet and the podcast is fun. Their ideas, thoughts, and interests mesh with a lot of my own stuff at the moment.
I had a few Shiny New Plot Bunnies last year and one of them was a romance novel idea, inspired by Lucy Parker’s Act Like It, which centers around a pair of actors in a play on London’s West End. Well, my weirdo writer mind thought, you’re getting burned out on historicals what with all the research and your plots going nowhere and your characters not really meshing together. So why not try a contemporary again? You’ve learned things about writing and characterization since your last try. You could totally not make it about you now.
But what kind of contemporary story? A romance, duh, because that’s what you read and what you like.
Okay, but in what kind of medium? What kind of romance is it? What brings the characters together?
Well, if Act Like It has the West End theater scene as the setting and external plot, then…why not Broadway? You know Broadway, said Weirdo Writer mind. You like Broadway. You went to college with a bunch of theater people. You can do this.
And thus, that is my general idea on the outlines I’m working on–a contemporary, New York City-set series of four stories set in the Broadway world.