At a recent Valley of the Sun Romance Writers monthly meeting, Anna Questerly asked a question about romance novel guidelines, whether it had to be ROMANCE or did it count if there was romance in the novel. That made me see her as a potential blogger to bring to you! She is a delightful person, and her bookstore in Phoenix, AZ, Dog-Eared Pages, is one to visit if you're in the area. Welcome, Anna!
First, I was delighted and surprised to be asked to post to Romance Righter. You see, I’ve never considered myself a romance author. I think of myself as more of a storyteller. I write sci-fi/fantasy for adults as A.J. Questerly and historical fiction for children as Anna Questerly.
I do, however, enjoy reading romance along with pretty much everything else, and as a bookseller, I’m able to indulge my love of reading and call it “work.” Not a bad gig, right? Trust me; I take full advantage of it. I read everything.
Maybe I’m wrong; what if I am a romance writer? I create worlds in which I’d like to live, and I wouldn’t want to live in a world without romance. Besides, I’ve found a dash of romance adds to every story. Romance is part of who we are. We exist to find that special person who gets us. This need drives us, makes us do things we never thought we’d do, and connects us to one another in so many ways.
It was easy enough to add that dash to my newest release, Pangaea. Meant for adults, this utopian fantasy almost reads like a romance. The romantic elements are a huge part of the story and the character motivations. If I’d left the romance out – check that – I couldn’t leave the romance out. It’s integral to the plot, to defining my characters, to getting my readers to connect with my characters. Besides, I didn’t really add it, my characters did. Maybe they know something I don’t. Without it, Pangaea would have been no more than an interesting discourse on Utopia. The fantasy … the storytelling, would have vanished.
I found it just as easy and even necessary to add romantic elements to my Minstrel’s Tale Trilogy, even though it’s meant for smart ten-year-olds and those young at heart.
Romance in a kid’s book? The hell, you say!
Yes; several, in fact. From the minstrel’s marriage, to the king’s arranged marriage, to the young narrator’s first kiss. Each sparking relationship adding layer upon layer to the story, building the characters, connecting my readers. Of course, again, I’m just the storyteller. I didn’t add any romance. Part of it was real history, and the others were these fictional souls finding each other, without my help.
Think about it, many of the books you read and loved as a child had that dash of romance: Nancy Drew, Cinderella, Snow White, and Aladdin, just to name a few. Would those stories have captured our imaginations and our hearts without the romance?
Which makes me think that all this time, I’ve been an undercover romance author and didn’t realize it.
Thanks to the recent explosion in the romance genre. Authors are no longer limited to Scottish Lairds and English Dukes or to swashbuckling pirates and rough-and-ready cowboys. The genre now encompasses the entire reading spectrum. Whether interspecies, intergalactic, or interdimensional, we’re finding love in all the right places these days. Not to mention the variety of heat levels available today, from that sweet and innocent first kiss to the steaming, racy erotica of which fantasies are made.
I must say, I’m proud to write a bit of romance, to bring a little heat into this cold world, to give everyone a taste of true love. This is a great time to be a romance reader and an even better time to be a romance writer. Read on, my friends.
Undercover Romance Author
Bookseller and bibliophile turned author, Anna Questerly writes medieval fiction and fairy tales for smart kids and young hearts. For adults, she creates Utopian fantasy as A.J. Questerly.