Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I’ve frequently been asked why I chose to write romance and not some other genre. The truth is I didn’t choose romance, romance chose me.

I knew at a very young age that I wanted to write. I started scribbling poetry when I was in grade school to deal with some childhood traumas. In the seventh grade I had an incredible science teacher in a really horrible science class who saw something in me that I hadn’t yet seen in myself. One day after I’d spent months in her classroom scribbling stories and poetry in the margins of my science workbook she pulled me aside and told me I’d been blessed with an incredible gift. It was her words of encouragement and motivation that followed me through school and into adulthood. I am writing today because this teacher made me understand that I could.

My first manuscript was not a romance. At least I didn’t think so. (Neither did die hard romance fans but that’s another story!) I was blessed though that an astute editor at BET Books liked what she read and believed in my abilities as a writer. With some intense editorial navigation and the deletion of eighty pages of subplot, Deborah the romance writer was born.

If the truth were to be told I still don’t see myself as a romance writer. I believe true romance writers have truly romantic spirits. Personally, I don’t much believe in the happily ever after ending and the fairy tale adventures that get you to true love. I know firsthand that love typically hurts more than it doesn’t and that rarely is there ever a happily ever after anything. I may be a little jaded but experience has been my wonderful teacher.

When I was twelve years old a trusted male friend of the family told me I would never be a woman that any man could or should ever love. It was a proclamation that has followed me most of my adult life. When life was well I could usually forget and ignore the stench it left over my spirit but when relationships went bad, the memory came rushing back with a vengeance. Fast forward through four years of intensive therapy to deal with my demons and I felt that I’d been newly discovered – likeable and loveable. Then something happened recently that left me devastated, questioning what therapy and a therapist had led me to believe.

Pretty words and a happy ending work well in books. Make-believe makes for great fiction. Reality is rarely as neat and pretty as the package a romance novel comes in. A dejected spirit, a heavy heart and the rampant memory of being told that love would always elude you plays out better on the pages when the story isn’t so syrupy sweet.

I write this because I was reminded that words are truly a powerful medium. The selection, the intent, and the delivery can have a profound emotional impact on the receiver whether spoken or written. A teacher told me I could and I believed her, worshiping the words she blessed me with. A man told me I wouldn’t and I believed him too, haunted by the curse caste over my spirit.

So to answer the question, I’m a writer who writes romance because I can and I’m good at it. I’m also a writer who writes for the sheer joy of it. And I’m a writer who writes hoping that I can always find the words to tell a great story because I desperately need to. I write to create a new truth for myself instead of settling for the lies that were handed to me.

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