I’m a mom of 3 teenagers. I’ve taught middle school and high school English. I have experience with kids. As a writer, I’ve written some romances where the heroine gets pregnant or wants to. Babies are part of life. However, I know a lot of readers don’t like kids in romance. I’ll be the first to admit, kids can totally kill romance buzz. Smart Bitches, Trashy Books even coined the phrase plot moppet to refer to small children in novels who have no purpose other than to drive the plot forward. They’re not fully fleshed out characters. They do cute things and the adults around them react.
I’ve had friends suggest that I write YA (young adult) because I know kids – I must understand them and what they like, right? Therefore, writing YA should be a breeze. I’m not going to tackle the whole “writing should be a breeze” aspect. But part of my reasoning for not even considering writing YA is that my experience with my kids would read like something fictional. My kids are snarky and irreverent and pretty open about what they think and feel. They have awesome vocabularies (hello, English teacher mom). I’ve always felt that if I wrote teens like that, no one would believe there are kids who behave and talk that way.
When I came up with the idea for my Daring Divorcees series, I knew that at least some of the people within this group of friends would have kids. That’s realistic. With people who are in their 40s, who have been married and divorced, chances are good there will be kids involved. Deciding to write that anyway was tough. I wanted to include kids in the story because as a parent, you can’t pretend your kids aren’t there, aren’t part of every decision you make. But I also feared making them moppets or scene stealers (which might be worse because it’s not a book about kids).
In One Night with a Millionaire (Daring Divorcees 1), Tess has three kids and she hesitated bringing someone into the kids’ lives. She feels that it’s her responsibility to provide stability for them. When I wrote the interactions Tess has with her kids, especially her teenage daughter, I toned down the daughter during revisions. I had to remind myself that what I deem appropriate from my kids would probably be seen as disrespectful to some readers.
By the time I started writing My Best Friend’s Ex (Daring Divorcees 2), I decided to have fun with it. My kids make me laugh every day without fail. They say things that are over the top and often inappropriate. I regularly have to ask them (or pointedly ask their friends), “Do your friends have conversations like this with their moms?” The answer is almost always no. I figure that means I’m doing something right, even if it means other people shake their heads at my kids and how they talk.
My writer friends have tried to convince me that I should just set up a camera in my car to record the ridiculous conversations (that’s where most of the funny stuff happens). Although tempting, I’m not comfortable with showing my kids on social media. I never use their real names or photos. However, I am toying with the idea of Twitter posts with quotes from our conversations.
Some of the conversations that happen in My Best Friend’s Ex are based on actual discussions that have taken place in my house. Evan tells his dad, Trevor, that he doesn’t want to go to college. We had that talk with my son. Trevor overreacts to the idea of his daughter dating, and we’ve seen similar reactions in the Schroeder house (ALWAYS followed swiftly by comments about double standards).
The important thing for me in writing kids in my books is making them feel as real as the adults do. Kids play a huge role in the lives of single parents and I wanted that to be part of the story that plays out.
How do you feel about kids in romance? Don’t worry, I won’t be upset if you totally nope out on this because kids are not part of your fantasy.
Trevor Booth’s life was just thrown a curveball. When his ex dies, he suddenly goes from an every-other-weekend, fun-time dad to a full-time dad. The dad part he’s cool with, but life with two teens is like a roller coaster in hell. Thank God his ex-wife’s best friend, Callie, seems to have secret powers that allow her to deal with the chaos.
Callie is devastated when Lisa dies, and she’s determined to help the kids get through it. She’s concerned about how Trevor will adjust to being a full-time parent, but she’s having a tough time keeping her eyes off his ripped physique. Callie loves being a part of this makeshift family, but no way she’s falling for her best friend’s ex.
Romance Contemporary [Entangled Amara, On Sale: June 10, 2019, e-Book, ISBN: 9781640638112 / eISBN: 9781640638112]
About Shannyn Schroeder
Shannyn Schroeder is an occasional English teacher, who also works as a part-time editor while raising her three kids.
Even though she wrote from high school through college (mostly poetry), she’d never considered a career as an author. Writing fell by the wayside as she focused her energy on creating lesson plans and new and fabulous ways to torment her teen students. One group in particular dubbed her “The Torture Master,” a title she carried into motherhood.
After the birth of baby number two, Shannyn resigned from teaching and fell in love with reading romance novels. She read so many books so quickly that her husband teased, “If you’re going to read so many damn books, why don’t you just write one?”
So she did.
That first book is safely buried on her hard drive, but the process set Shannyn on the path to where she is today. The 6-book O’Leary series has wrapped up, as well as 2 Hot & Nerdy new adult trilogies. She’s currently working on her next series.
She is recovering from her Diet Coke addiction, fears putting her foot in her mouth on social media, and has a renewed appreciation for the bad girls of the world.
Shannyn is represented by Frances Black of Literary Counsel.