Hello, my name is J.T. Geissinger, and I am addicted to romance.
Writing romance, reading romance, enjoying romance in movies and music and art—I find it all endlessly fascinating and emotionally fulfilling. What I don’t find particularly fulfilling are the reactions I often get from well-meaning friends and acquaintances, who often wonder aloud why I—a well-educated, seemingly intelligent adult—would choose to waste my time writing such…fluff.
Simply put, I love love, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
We live in a violent, fast-paced, unpredictable world. If I wanted to read about explosions, espionage, murder, car chases, fighting and gunplay, all I’d have to do is open a newspaper. “But it’s not realistic,” my husband argues as I’m extolling the virtues of some new romance book I’ve fallen in love with. “None of that stuff happens in real life!”
We’ve been married for a dozen years, so he has a point; none of the things that happened in 50 Shades of Grey or Beautiful Disaster are happening in his life. (Note to self: Spice things up.) But perhaps that’s the point. Romance offers a beautiful glimpse into other people’s personal lives and most intimate moments, letting us witness their thoughts and disappointments and dreams, their struggles to overcome hardship and gain that most elusive, much maligned golden ring: happily-ever-after. Even if those people are only characters on a page, a talented author can bring them to Technicolor, three dimensional life, and we can laugh and cry and hope right along with them.
Because that’s really what romance is about. Hope. The afore-mentioned husband would now roll his eyes and mutter, “Fantasy, more like,” but it’s hope that drives us to the end of the page, the end of the chapter, the end of a book. Hope that misunderstandings can be solved, disasters can be averted, true love in all its agony and ecstasy can be achieved and those heroes and heroines we’ve come to root for in spite of their flaws will walk away at the end hand in hand into a glorious sunset.
At the risk of evoking more eye rolling, I’d even go so far as to say that romance is empowering. Romance as a genre has long been vilified by critics who claim the books are meaningless, formulaic smut, its readers housebound, frustrated harpies who have room temperature IQs and own too many cats. (I may be a teeny bit guilty of that last bit about the cats.) But where else can we see realistic depictions of women’s sexuality? Certainly not in movies or on television; women are most often portrayed according to set stereotypes. The virgin. The tomboy. The gold-digger. The frigid, controlling executive. The nagging, unappreciative wife. Told most often from the female perspective, the romance novel serves as both entertainment and affirmation that we as women have sexual and emotional needs that are different from men’s, but that are just as important.
Romance novels celebrate our common struggle to bond with other people, to find a soul mate, to understand life and its meaning and create something important from it. They underscore the universal need we have as mothers and sisters and wives and friends to be valued also simply as women. But most of all, romance novels celebrate love in all its diversity. More than anything, I believe in love.
Which, in a nutshell, is why I write romance.
Question for readers: What is your all-time favorite romance book, and why?
A life-long lover of reading and a self-professed “book addict,” J.T. Geissinger didn’t realize her dream of writing a novel until a milestone birthday forced her to take stock of her goals in life. Always believing the right time to commit to putting pen to paper would magically announce itself, it took waking up one cold January morning with a shiny new zero as the second number in her age to kick start her determination.
Starting on that very day, she wrote what would become Shadow’s Edge in a little over four months and submitted it to several literary agents. Nothing happened. Thinking that was the end of that but by no means willing to give up on her dreams of being published, she began work on a second manuscript.
Then, during a trip to Italy in honor of their 10th wedding anniversary and the honeymoon she and her husband never took, she received an email that would change her life. It was from an agent, Marlene Stringer of Stringer Literary, and it contained the three words every aspiring author longs to hear: “I loved it.”
Marlene sold the manuscript, initially titled The Skinwalker’s Daughter, to Montlake Romance who published it six months later. Hitting the #1 Amazon bestseller lists for Fantasy Romance in both the US and the UK within weeks of publication, Shadow’s Edge is the culmination of the refusal to give up (some would say grow up) with the staunch belief that all good things come to those who wait…and sometimes to those who wait longest.
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