by Donna Hatch
Long ago, I decided one of the reasons why I prefer romance is because I need the assurance of a happy ending, which not all books promise. But I also believe people should read a variety of genres. I was reminded of this a couple weeks ago when a good friend handed me a book and told me I had to read it and she just knew I’d love it. For a number of reasons, I accepted reluctantly.
The author was a man. Strike one. Most men are very plot-driven and I like books that are character-driven. Now of course there are all kinds of exceptions, but that is my observation of the norm.
It was written exclusively from the man’s point of view and in the first person. Strike two. I like to see both sides of the issue. Also, I have trouble identifying with the hero when his gender is different from me. Men typically see things differently than women (I know, there I go making generalizations again) and I often just shake my head and say “must be a guy thing.” I do like the hero’s POV in a romance, in fact, that’s usually when I “fall in love” with him, but typically I relate better to the heroine.
It was about a farmer in the south who was reluctantly trying his luck as a school teacher. Strike three. I like guys with exotic jobs. Cops. Secret agents. Firemen. Pirates. English Knights. English lords. You get the idea.
This had a modern-day setting. Strike four. Because I write medieval and Regency romances, I usually stick with historical novels and don’t read a lot of modern-day novels any more. Even when I did, I preferred the magic and illusion of the historical novel.
Strike five (I know, I know, in baseball, you only get three, but you get my point, right?) was I’m facing big deadline and I’ve been madly doing edits on my soon to be released book, as well as deeply researching pirates to make my sequel as authentic as possible. So I really didn’t have time to take a side-trip.
I trust my friend, and wanted to be able to give the book back to the next time I saw her. Because she lives a goodly distance away, we don’t see each other often. I also figured it had been a while since I strayed from the genre I write in and it might be good to broaden my horizons, so I picked it up…and got drawn in immediately.
It made me question my own compassion for others. It made me question what my loved ones would remember most after I’m gone. It made me laugh. It almost made me cry. It gave me a new perspective on guys, including my husband. It touched me in a way that I haven’t been touched in a very long time. I believe it will help me write better heroes. And it inspired me to be a better wife, a better mother, a better neighbor, a better friend.
So my advice is to stray outside your favorite genre! You never know what little gem you might find.