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Romance is icky. But I like it.


I cheated this week and asked if my fabulous critique partner and writer friend Emma Jane (aka E J Tett) would like to blog about love and romance, and what makes her so good at writing it. And she is good, she has two novels coming out this year: Otherworld with Liz Powell from Torquere press in November and Shuttered in December from Dreamspinner. Em's writing is amazing, I couldn't shout loudly enough to recommend them. And now I'll stop waffling, and hand over to Em:

Romance is Icky. But I like it.

A question I see often on book forums is, "what genres do you read?" and you'll invariably get answers along the lines of, "I'll read anything! Except romance." I can almost hear the sneer through their written words.
It's a weird kind of snobbery. "Oh I don't read romance! Urgh. That's just for the silly wimminz."
But… is it? I'm fairly confident the writer of the most famous love story of all was a man.
Romance novels aren't all old-fashioned bodice rippers any more. They're no longer all filled with square-jawed brooding gentlemen and swooning ladies. That fantasy novel you're reading? I bet there's a love story in it.

Some people will happily read about a knight slicing someone's head off, but God forbid that knight should get naked with someone.
I used to be a romance-hater. Why do I want to read about something as boring as love? Bleurgh. I want excitement! I want adventure! I want tragedy and emotion and… wait. All those things happen in romances?
I like reading about people, and relationships – all kinds of relationships. I like character experience - I want to be close to the action, sitting on the character's shoulder rather than flying overhead worrying about the state of the galaxy. I want to read about people doing things for others. And people in love do stupid, dangerous things.
Romance isn't just for books. It's not all chick-lit and rom coms. And it's not just for women. Men think about finding partners too, don't they? They go speed dating, they get their friends to set them up, they join dating sites… I'm sure I've heard about men wanting to get married too. And sometimes, it's not even about wanting to be with someone, or finding someone, it's just about emotion – how much are you willing to go through for the person you love?
Not all love stories are told from the woman's perspective either. Take the TV show How I Met Your Mother. The whole show is about finding love! It's from a man's POV and, I'm fairly confident that guys enjoy the show too.
And Game of Thrones? Yeah, there's even romance in that. I will admit I got more excited by Jaime pulling Brienne out of a bear pit than by him shoving Bran out of a window for Cersei but the things we do for love.
So romance isn't all marriage and babies and ditzy women folk. It's epic and tragic and life-changing.
My name is Emma Jane, and I write romance.
Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.
~ Romeo and Juliet

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