For a few months now, I’ve been asked directly and indirectly how those who I know personally react when I tell them that I write romance–particularly my close friends and family and those I go to church with.
There is no simple answer, really, everyone reacts differently.
My mom (who will read this, I’m sure, and might scold me later) is a huge romance reader, however, she always requests that I send her what I call the “Mama Mia Style” version of my books, so when the hero and heroine go to the bedroom (or field or wherever), before anything happens, I delete the scene and write DOT DOT DOT. (If you’ve seen the movie or play Mama Mia, when the girl is reading her mother’s diary from the summer she was conceived, every time something happened, she’d write, “dot dot dot”.) It’s not that she’s never read a book with this in there, she just doesn’t like to think about me, her daughter, writing it or having knowledge of certain things.
My husband, loves the books and he likes to play the game of “which chapter do they have sex?” He usually teases me and says the last chapter for sure. He’s one of my biggest supporters actually, and it’s because of him that anyone in my personal life other than he and my parents know.
The story of what I do first surfaced on Facebook. Of course. My husband didn’t think it should be a secret (and I did!) and made a post… From there, it pretty much went viral amongst his friends, some of which are mine and members of our church. Okay, ‘viral’ might be too strong of a word here, I just thought it went viral at that point because so many people suddenly seemed to know; but I was wrong. There are still people just now finding out. More on this in a bit.
Most of our friends didn’t care one way or the other, but there were a few who every time I see them they want to talk about the books and characters.
Naturally, there were a few people at the church who disagreed. Some made their feelings known, some didn’t. With the exception of one couple who is a good set of friends of my husband and I, a lot of the talk at first was negative. Not that I was awful at writing, negative, just that I should find something else to do that’s more in line with their beliefs. It was around this time, I received a public criticism on one of my books that didn’t help my case with the church. It claimed my book was utter filth, not because there was marital intimacies in the book, but that it was taken too far. Though I doubt the person who confronted me about it had actually read the book to make a decision for themselves, they kindly suggested that perhaps if I was going to continue to write trash, I should step down from my position.
It was at this point that I put up a shell, and when only a few days later was confronted by a group of ladies at my church about it, I declared loud and clear that I’m an adult entertainer!
Surprisingly, this was where things turned around.
A few in that group that day weren’t as offended as the others thought they might be and since then, word has slowly spread across the church and I’ve had countless ladies come up and admit to loving that particular type of book. This confession always makes me nervous because I just know they’re going to ask what name I write under…
To date, I’ve had about a dozen ladies and one gentleman other than my husband ranging from early thirties to their eighties from my church read my books. Most of them were people I would have NEVER thought would have ever read this type of book before. When I know someone is going to read one, I always, always, always, give a disclaimer about what they’ll find. One lady shocked me to the toes when she nearly squealed and said, “Oh, the smuttier, the better!”
While there are still some who may not know, or who do know and chose not to say anything, once I’d quit hiding behind the computer screen about it, I’ve actually had a very positive reaction. And other than having them read the books just for entertainment value, I’ve actually become better friends with a few of them because of this (weird, I know). I’m not sure if they saw me as the 15 year old I was when I moved there or if maybe before my “confessional” I had an invisible force field around me that made me unapproachable, but for one reason or another, I’ve become friends with several who I barely spoke to before.
These days, I don’t bother to keep it a secret. Whether it’s someone at potluck, a church fundraiser, the realtor, or someone over the phone, if someone asks what I do, I grin and tell them, “I’m an adult entertainer, and for less than five dollars, I can keep you entertained all day.”
Some laugh. Some don’t. That’s okay, because as my husband tells me all the time, there is so much of me in my books, that if you don’t like my books you won’t like me and if you do like my books, you’ll like me as a person. I’m okay with that. Take me or leave me, I am who I am. I don’t cry to get out of tickets. I don’t pretend to like people I don’t. I don’t join the crowd to say something bad about something even if I like it just to stay with the majority. I’m different and if that makes me unpopular, so be it.
A funny story.
The other night I was up at the church holding an informal staff meeting and doing paperwork for an organization I’m involved in (as you can tell, I did not give up my position, instead, I took a passive aggressive approach and went against my usual beliefs and sent that particular book off to a review blogger. After she wrote her piece, declaring the book was not trash, the lady backed down). While I was doing my paperwork, this young lady about my age came into the room and said, “I didn’t know you wrote books.”
I nodded and before I could say anything, this lady’s dad came in and joined the conversation. “Yeah, we were talking about it at lunch today and thought it was pretty neat that we had a children’s author in our church.”
I about choked on my gum and the two other ladies who were in there for my staff meeting started laughing hysterically–both have read at least one series. “Who told you?” I choked out.
“Fred. He mentioned, blah, blah, blah.”
“And he said I was a children’s author?”
“Well, no. I just assumed…”
Coughing and banging on my chest like John Banks might do when caught in a fib or an uncomfortable situation, I tried my best to hold a straight face. “They’re not children’s books. But some do result in having children.”
It didn’t take but a second for it to sink and his eyes to flare wide. But then he just shrugged and started asking for details.
A little weird, yes. But that’s my life and I certainly love it.