I recently received an e-mail about how I’m “different”. While some might wince or squirm when someone calls them different, I take it as a point of pride. I AM different. I am not your typical romance author. I am a 25 year old mother of two. It was discovered when I was nine that I couldn’t read. At all. It took until I was nearly 16 to be able to read without sounding out words longer than four letters. I (sort of) eloped with a friend of mine at 18 and within a year added to the teenage mother statistic–then had another sixteen months later. I went to night school or did correspondence to get my college degree, watching my boys during the day. It wasn’t until my last semester that I took a creative writing class. And it was a bust. I took it solely for the purposes of it fulfilling the need for an extra elective. All I did in that class was write a poem about taxes (I was an accounting major, so it fit).
My boys were still young when I finished college, so I stayed home with them for three months. Then went back to college again the following fall. This time for secondary education, history. Less than a year into it, I dropped. My oldest son had a speech problem and it was suggested he join a certain program. The hours he needed to go conflicted with my ability to attend school. So I began reading books. Like I said, I’d had a slow start to reading, I didn’t want to lose my ability to read from not using it. A year later, I was able to read a 400 page book in a day. Then I picked up the most tedious book ever written. Halfway through, I put it down–determined that even I could write a better story. Two hours later, I had what is now the first two chapters of Intentions of the Earl.
Now, I prattle on about all of that, to get to this. My past is not full of literary classes. The first “fun” thing I wrote was in 7th grade when I was told to write a 500 word story for the school’s newspaper (this was an English class assignment). I wrote the article about what it would be like to live a day in the life an eraser. No kidding. I personified a rectangular, pink eraser and wrote about its day. (Note to self: dig this up.) Other than that, I only wrote answers to questions or term papers. That was it.
So no, my books are not what some would compare to classics–and I’m thankful for it. I intentionally break a lot of “writing rules”. I start sentences with And and But. It was once remarked on that end enough sentences with prepositions to hang a man with. Since it only takes one rope to hang a man, I can tell you without hesitation that this person makes a very valid point.
My heroines have often been called shrews–two in particular: Liberty and Emma. My villains are often exhaustingly horrific: Gateway and Olivia. And my heroes and heroines are flawed enough to elicit enough cringes to make one’s face hurt.
But that’s MY strength.
My strength is the struggling character. The one who struggles with their inner emotions just as much as the physical setbacks. Is this wrong? Or is it right? Does doing something wrong with the intention to make right a previous wrong make it right or is it still wrong?
I haven’t written a single character who receives more than five pages worth of space in a novel who doesn’t have some trait I can relate to. (Yes, even Robbie and I have a few traits in common. *shudder*)
I was the unpopular girl in school. The one mocked or ignored. The one who had coke-bottle glasses and braces. Certainly not the socialite. But for as many setbacks, I’ve had many, many more triumphs: learning to read, getting married, having children, finishing college, writing multiple books etc. That’s what I understand best: emotions and feelings real people face. I’ve suffered the heartbreak of being told I wouldn’t be able to play on the school’s basketball team for a reason that is so stupid it doesn’t bear repeating. I also know the joy and elation of having my son speak his first word, even if it was at an age where most kids are able to string an entire sentence together.
Emotions, motivation, internal perceptions are my strengths. Humor? Maybe. It depends on who you ask. Some find my humor entertaining, others do not. Being unpopular and excluded left a lot of time for my own internal perceptions, some of which some people find humorous while others find them silly or even exaggerated and cruel.
Just like every hero and heroine is different, so is each writer.
One of my staunch readers often tells me that Liberty was her absolute favorite. In her mind, nobody can compare. Liberty was strong and didn’t cow to other’s demands. At the same time, she “grew” throughout the book and came to mature. This person “gets” Liberty and that’s great. (Especially since I see a lot of myself in Liberty as we both made decisions at a young age that not only impacted the rest of our lives but also led to our maturity.)But others don’t like Liberty. Someone recently told me, to this day, after reading all of my books, Brooke with her flout the rules and don’t give a hang attitude is still their favorite. And to someone else, Juliet with her steely backbone but giant heart is their favorite. And so on. I don’t even want to start in on the difference of the heroes. The point is, just like every book and hero/heroine is different. So is every writer. My writing background pales in comparison to some of the big names out there. But my understanding of the ups and downs doesn’t. And that’s what I prefer to write about.
So what I’ve taken 1,000 words to say is this:
My books, complete with writing style, flawed characters, plot twists, motivations and everything else, were not and are not written with the intent to become well loved classics. Nor, are they an attempt to copy someone else’s voice or ideas. To me, the best type of book is the kind that evokes some sort of emotion in the reader. Whether it be anger, excitement, elation, joy, or saddness. It doesn’t matter. That’s why I write. It’s the way the shy girl who hides behind the inch-thick glasses and unruly hair can finally have a voice.
If you have yet to read one of my books, consider yourself warned. My books are, without question, different, and that’s exactly how they were intended to be.
(I wrote this post as a combination answer to several questions/comments, not just for an excuse to ramble on about myself for 1,150 words. *grins*)