Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Why I'm Incapable of Writing Romance (YA, PNR, Or Otherwise)

With the recent success of Samantha Young and Abbi Glines with their Contemporary New Adult romance novels, a lot of Indie Writers who were writing Paranormal Romance (PNR), Urban Fantasy (UF), or Horror, are now starting their own Contemporary New Adult novels.

The old adage of "Write what you know" has been changed to "Write what sells books."

Which makes sense if you want to make a living at writing and you want to sell books.  

Almost as soon as Samantha Young penned her big deal and ended up on the NYC Bestseller list (which is amazing and kudos to her!) for On Dublin Street, imitators were everywhere. Even her beautiful cover by Claudia McKinney of Phat Puppy Art was mimicked. I've seen this sort of jumping on the bandwagon before after the successes of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight (that's why we have so many PNR YA books now) Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games (Dystopian) and E.L. James erotic fan fiction of TwilightFifty Shades of Grey (hence the tons of erotica with light BDSM themes). Success stories always inspire a frenzy in the hot new genre because writers do want to be successful and make a living a their writing.

I'm a horror writer. At least that is how I label myself. I've seen my books tagged as Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Fantasy, Chick Lit (???), YA (only The Midnight Spell is YA), and onward. Many people consider horror to be "icky," so I get why I get categorized differently.

Over the years I have been asked by interviewers and readers why I just don't write PNR or UF.  Now that the big craze is Contemporary New Adult, I'm hearing that question again.

So...why don't I write romance heavy novels?

The closest I've have ventured toward writing a book that could possibly qualify as a romance is Pretty When They Collide. Though the two main protagonists spend the majority of the book apart from one another and dealing with bad guys, the main purpose of the story is seeing them come together at last.  Yet there isn't a steamy sex scene, the bad guys in this book are BAD, the elements of horror are definitely in play, the couple doesn't actually interact until the end of the book, and their happily ever after is questionable They have to survive Pretty When She Destroys still.

Frankly, I don't think I'm capable of writing a romance novel.

Here are my reasons:

1. I can't write a YA romance novel because I have teenage nephews. 

Seriously, even though they're amazing and handsome kids, I have a front row seat to what real teenage boys are like. The teenage boys in the YA novels I've read (that were PNR, UF, or Dystopian) bore little to no resemblance to teenage boys that slouch on my sofa watching zombie movies with me. The hunky, mature, dreamy teenage boys of YA come across as so unrealistic, I just giggle at times. YA romance for me.

That's why the teenage boys in The Midnight Spell are not objects of perfect male beauty or mature beyond their years. As Olivia would say, "They're grungy, stupid boys."

Example of Regular Teenage Boys: Ian from The Midnight Spell. He's pretty, but so good at putting his foot in his mouth.

2. If the sole purpose of a novel is to get the two leads to fall in love, I'm bored. 

I have to have a richer, fuller story where the romance is just a part of the whole. There has to be excitement and danger and not of the bedroom kind. I enjoy seeing people falling in love despite all the bad stuff happening around them.

Example of a Couple Destined to Be, but Gotta Fight For It: Cass and Aimee from Pretty When They Collide and Pretty When She Kills.  Glynis and Ignatius from The Vampire Bride Series.

3. I don't like stupid people who can't figure out if the other person likes them or not for like the entire book!

Oftentimes, an author will throw in tons of plot devices and make their characters downright ridiculously stupid to prevent the couple from getting together. It's like a soap opera. Everyone is beautiful, but has no IQ to speak of. I hate how stupid characters come across. "This guy just kissed me passionately in the rain, but I'm not sure he likes me!"  Well, at the very least, he finds you kissable!
I can't make characters stupid just for the sake of being stupid. 

If a character is a young woman, then I'm okay with her being a bit daft. We all had to learn how to read the very confusing cues men (and women) can give off. It can be a little complicated at first to sort out exactly what is going on, and sometimes circumstances really do keep us from trusting our instincts to take a leap of faith with someone. I don't mind a complicated relationship, but when a couple is completely daft, I'm out. 

Example of Couples with Complications: Samantha and Jeff from Pretty When She Kills and Juan and Jenni in As The World Dies.

4. I find "falling in love" boring. 

Yeah. I do. The whole fluttery, crazy, intoxicating lust at first sight kind of love is the most annoying part of love in my honest opinion. You have your blinder's on and you're nuts in lust with someone, and you're sure they're just the most perfect person on the planet and its all starry and fabulous and there are unicorns...Flash forward a year when they've left their wet towels on the bed and forgot to walk the dog or feed the cat. Then we'll see the TRUE aspect of love. Real love develops over time and with work. That's the good stuff. The solid stuff. I like seeing those kind of relationships in books.

Even after a decade with my husband, I can still walk into a room and see him smile at me and feel tingly all over. There are times when he just grabs and kisses me. It's fun and sexy and reminds me of how much I love him. And why I shouldn't shove him down the stairs when he's left his laundry all over the floor.

Example of True Lasting Love: Katie and Travis's relationship in the AS the World Dies trilogy.

5. I like seeing relationships develop among characters. 

Not just falling in love, but actually developing the bonds that will keep them together for the long haul. I hate it when a couple meets, gets together, and everything is just magically perfect. I enjoy seeing two people slowly finding strength in one another and encouraging each other to be a better person.  

Example of a Developing Couple: Amaliya and Cian in Pretty When She Dies were sizzling hot when they got together, but in Pretty When She Kills we get to see them adjusting to being actual partners in love.

6. I hate writing sex scenes. 

Yeah. I do. Completely. I HATE sex scenes. Yet, once in awhile a story needs one to develop the characters or push the plot forward. It's more than just about two people getting sweaty and naughty, it's about what is happening emotionally, spiritually, or supernaturally.  

I usually try to just skirt around sex scenes as swiftly as possible. I don't like explicit scenes and will only write them if absolutely necessary. Every time I write a book that demands an explicit sex scene, I sit back and whimper. It amuses me that I've had readers beg me for more sexy times in books.  I can't imagine writing a book and deliberately putting in sex scenes. Blargh!

Example of Hot Couple With an Explicit Sex Scene: Amaliya and Cian in Pretty When She Dies.

Example of Hot Couple Without an Explicit Sex Scene: Jenni and Juan in As The World Dies.

7. I like to kill characters. 

Romance novels (in every genre) demand a happily ever after of some sort. That's probably not going to happen in a Rhiannon Frater novel. It's so rare that fans send me emails of relief when a favorite couple last until the end of a book. As I prepare to write Pretty When She Destroys I already know that...*bites lip* Well, let's put it this way, not everyone makes it out alive.

Examples of Doomed Couples: All of them???


  1. You are so cruel! Love it. :)

    1. Bwhahahahahaaha...yeah...pretty much. I noticed that once I met my husband my enjoyment of romance in books went down significantly.I like relationships that feel "real" now.


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