Thursday, May 2, 2013

My Romance Journey

Thirty years ago, more or less, I decided to rebel. I'd been reading romances intended for teens for a number of years (well before I was a teenager) and I was bored with them. I wanted something else, something more exciting. Of course I knew my mother would hardly approve of my plans so I took advantage of my babysitting money, walked to the Walgreen's at the corner to buy pens for school, and while I was there, I snuck over to the romance book section. I was almost afraid to pick them up, for fear my mother would appear at my shoulder and see what I was doing, but I finally worked up the nerve to read the back cover of a few, and picked one. I hid it in my purse and then hid it between my mattresses, and I devoured it. I absolutely devoured it. I read that book so many times it fell apart, and of course it was only the first.

I haven't thought about that book in years, although I still remember it incredibly vividly. I did mention how many times I read it, right? Well, imagine my surprise and fangirlish glee to walk into the RT club yesterday and see Janelle Taylor, yes, the same Janelle Taylor who wrote the first adult romance I ever read, sitting at a table by herself, looking honestly a little lonely. I couldn't resist. I had to go up, introduce myself, and tell her my story. She was incredibly gracious, offering a hug and a smile and asking about my own writing since my name tag proclaimed me a published author as well.

I told her, completely upfront about the m/m aspect of my writing. And you know what her answer was? She asked if I had one of my books with me. I didn't, but Nessa did, so I gave her a copy of Inherit the Sky, which she insisted I sign for her (I was asked to sign a book for one of the authors who introduced me to romance as a genre! Can I squee for a bit?), we gave her a YA book for her granddaughter, and we spent a good twenty minutes with this bastion of traditional romance discussing how important it was to show that love is love, no matter who was involved, whether that was two people from opposite sides of the Civil War, whether it was a white woman and an Indian man, or whether it was two men.

It was interesting to hear her say that when she first started out, all the publishers told her no one would want to read a romance with Indians in it, and yet I remember that my favorite part of Destiny's Temptress was Shannon's brother (half-brother if you want to get technical, but Shannon never did) Hawke, a half-breed Indian. Finally Kensington took a chance on her, even with the Indians, and her career was born.

I did a little poking around on the Internet last night. Janelle Taylor is a year older than my mother, two years younger than my father. My mother knows what I write. She hasn't read any of it, but that has more to do with the explicit content than with the fact that it's m/m. My father doesn't know at all because I know what his reaction would be. I've been calling him on homophobic comments far longer than I've been writing. Talking with Janelle yesterday reminded me that one's generation does not define one's thoughts, that people of every generation can be open-minded, and that what we do and the ground we're breaking now in the m/m genre was set up by people like Janelle Taylor years ago and that they really are just as happy to see us breaking new ground now as people were to see them breaking ground then.

We get tied up in our insular world of m/m romance, and I've made some of my closest friends in that insular little world, so I will never stop being thankful for it, but I'm starting to wonder if some of that isolation isn't our doing as much as it is theirs.

So I've shared my fangirl moment. If you could pick that seminal author to meet, the one who introduced you to a world you'd never entered before (romance, fantasy, sci-fi m/m romance, or any other genre), who would it be?




15 comments:

  1. My first romance novel was A Knight in Shinning Armor by Jude Deveraux! I had a new drivers liscence and a best friend that told me Borders was on our way home from school (it so was not!)! We spent ages in the romance section trying to find just one book to share. After reading AKISA we found new authors to love! I think between the two of us we read all of Nicole Jordan & Lisa Kleypas' books! I still have some of them, we stopped being friends after high school so our shared collection is split now.

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    1. I read that one too! I'm hoping to meet Jude Deveraux on Saturday. I devoured all her books too.

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  2. Mine would b Jackie Collins. When i was a teen my home life was miserable then i discovered her world and it allowed me to leave my world and feel excitement romance n drama knowing the outcome would b good. Of course i have moved on to grittier reads but those books saw me through some really tough times in my life.

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    1. I don't think I've read anything by Jackie Collins. I'll have to look her up. We all need comfort reads sometimes when life gets us down.

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  3. It's not that I'd never read romance before, but the few books I read back in Jr. High, from a publisher who shall remain nameless, were so bad that they put me off romance for the next decade or so. Then I picked up a regency by Amanda Quick. I loved everything about it, especially the intelligent heroine and the vulnerable hero. Since then, I loved everything of Jayne Ann Krentz's that I've read, no matter the genre. So I will totally fangirl if I get to meet her at Nationals this year. :)

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  4. (I should clarify -- the books I read back in the Pleistocene era weren't badly written, but they relied on plot devices like the Big Mis, or they had heroines who were Too Stupid to Live, or they had cardboard "other woman" villainesses who lived to torture the heroine. Thankfully, that all seemed to change in the mid-1990s. I'm sure that publisher's books are better now, too.)

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  5. I honestly can't remember the first romance novel I read as it would be 30+ years ago, but we did have a monthly magazine publishing romantic/sexy stories for teens back in the day. I would read anything and everything I could get my hands on, and luckily my parents have (and had) a nice library, and the public library in town was very good, so I was never short of a read.

    The first m/m book I read was a result of a f/m/m book I picked up last summer while on holiday in Spain. I was far more intrigued by the m/m dynamics and relationship than the f/m dynamics. Anyway, I have since then almost exclusively read m/m books. One of the early ones was actually one of your books: "Her Two Dads" - which I love so much that I also got it as an Audiobook).

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  6. Should begin by saying that I'm closer to 70 than 60. My first romance books were Georgette Heyer, which I reread so many times that some of my copies have been replaced twice. I attempted to read Barbara Cartland, which I hated, so it was mainly mystery for the next few decades. Then I discovered Susan Elizabeth Phillips, closely followed by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Lisa Kleypas etc. & 6 yrs ago, my first m/m. I haven't looked back :)

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