One day, I got this funky, crazy idea. The timing was right, so I decided to give this romance writing thing a shot. The analytical side of me took over and I spent three months researching the industry. Terms like ‘unique voice’, ‘interesting story premise’, and ‘strong characterization’ kept popping up. Did I know what any of this meant? Uuh…didn’t have a clue.
Well of course the first question that popped in my head was what would be the premise of my story. That’s when I sat down and thought back over my experience as a community public health educator for the past twenty-five years. Every day, I interact with individuals who struggle with chronic diseases and wage war to find quality treatment within a fractured healthcare system. Despite their failures and the socio-economic deterrents woven around their lives, many have fought to overcome issues we couldn’t wrap two thoughts around. Why? Someone came along and dared to love them during the most hideous time in their lives. Interesting story premise, huh? Hmmm…let’s see. What if I took a real-life issue from my experience as a health educator and put a romantic spin to it?
I used domestic violence as the premise for my debut novel, When I’m With You “Nice writing, but touchy topic” or “the premise is a little too outside the box” rejection letters landed in my mailbox faster than a cold slot machine sucks in coins. Rejection letter number…heck I can’t even remember the number now, from agent what’s-his-face came along. That did it! The rebel side of me, the side my late mother and I fought over for years, surfaced. Ever had a conviction pound into your gut to the point you couldn’t let it go? Touchy topic or not, a person knows, what they know, when they know. I knew I had a good story. Forget what’s-his-face and all of the other agents before him. If I couldn’t get through the front door with an agent, I’ll try the back by myself. Hey, what did I have to lose? Sometimes in life gambling pays off and it did for me.
Four years, the “touchy topic” story was published, followed six months later by my sophomore release, When A Man Loves A Woman. In this story, after eight years, the heroine still battles the pain and humiliation of finding her ex-husband in bed with another man. My latest release, If I Were Your Woman deals with cancer. Soon after the leading male character meets the love of his life, he’s diagnosed with testicular cancer. Needless to say, this news prompts a series of challenges and conflicts for the couple.
Will I ever write a story with a traditional premise? Maybe. But you can bet the bank I won’t stop writing stories with the “touchy topic” premises.