With: Emma Shortt
Hello, contemporary romance readers! I’m Emma Shortt and I’m here today to talk to you about why I write contemporary romance.
I’m going to start off by asking you take a quick peek at my website (no need to stay there long, just cast a quick eye over the homepage). You’re back? Okay. So, you’ll, hopefully, have noticed that along the top tabs I arrange all my books by genre. They’re all neatly laid out like shelves in a book store or chocolate bars in a tin. This is me being organized (pretty much as organized as it gets). Only I didn’t used to be.
Not. At. All.
For a very long time I just popped all my books on the same page, one after the other after the other…cover, blurb, buy links, check! But, as each new book came out (and Blogger started to respond by freezing the page halfway through a post) I ended up with this hideously long webpage and I knew, I just knew, that my readers were probably going to get about halfway down and give up. Hell, I was about ready to give up myself!
I needed to do something STAT!
But, being so painfully disorganized that I often have to sacrifice my morning breakfast banana to one of my teens who I forgot to give breakfast to, this was no easy task. I played around with putting my books in series groups, age of publication and so on, but in the end decided to group by genre. It wasn’t until I did this that I realized just how much of a genre whore I really am. During my writing career I have jumped in and out of paranormal, fantasy, historical, post-apocalyptic and sci-fi. This hasn’t been a purposeful move. Like many authors, I simply go where the story takes me, and sometimes it takes me to some bizarre places. But, by far, the overwhelming majority of my works are contemporary. Why?
I’ve asked myself that question a number of times as I sat down to write this post. Why contemporary more than any of the other genres? Why does my brain naturally take me there? Why do I enjoy this genre so much? After much mulling over the situation, a quick episode of Voyager, and a plate of Ginger cookies, I think I might have an answer.
When I read, or write, a romance novel I want to believe that the story, from the very beginning right to the end, is something that could happen to me. Now, we’ll forget, for the moment, the fact that I (and no doubt many of you) are happily married—because everyone likes to fantasize right?—and think instead about the wonderful journeys that we’re taken on in a romance book.
Example the first: I could walk through the graveyard opposite my house tomorrow and get accosted by a ruggedly handsome vampire who has been hanging around waiting to sink his pearly fangs into my slender neck. This totally could happen…only it isn’t very likely to, is it? Apart from the fact that I rarely walk through the graveyard after dark, and my neck is in no way slender, there is the indisputable fact that vampires aren’t actually real. On the other hand I could go to work tomorrow and find that—with no notice at all—my ageing CEO has been replaced by a seething mass of testosterone who has a thing for curvy girls, and demands my complete capitulation. Again, this isn’t very likely, but it’s a damn sight more likely than the possibility of some erotic vampiric action.
Let’s take another example. On my way to work tomorrow I might get captured by a roving band of space pirates. They see me clacking along in my high heels and are so impressed with my long flowing hair, and pert ass, that they beam me straight up to be kept as their sex slave for the next five years. Only my hair is crazy curly, I don’t own any high heels, and I have yet to meet any pirate aliens who were in any way attractive. It is much more likely that my new window cleaner is actually a secret government agent hiding out from some shady criminal gang. I end up embroiled in the whole plot and have to go on the run with him where smexies then ensue.
You see where I’m going with this?
Contemporary romances take us on journeys that could happen in real life. Never mind the fact that we might already be in a relationship, that we just celebrated our fiftieth birthday and therefore have absolutely no chance of snagging that twenty-something billionaire, or that we haven’t shaved our legs because it’s not summer yet. In a contemporary romance novel none of these things matter. There’s a chance this shit really could happen!
I’m not saying that the other genres aren’t realistic, because despite the fairies, and the vamps, and the zombies in mine, my heroes and my heroines are still real. I’m just saying that in contemporary romance it’s a little bit easier to believe in the story, and sometimes in life, everyone needs a little bit of easier.
P.S If you’d like a little bit of easier my contemporary romance, The Seduction Game, is out now. I’d be thrilled if you’d take a quick peek at it.