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Sunday, March 15, 2009

GUEST BLOGGER: Susan Mallery






Let me start by saying it's not my fault. I didn't plan to write a women's fiction book. I'm a romance writer. I love romance. I love all the firsts. First meet, first kiss, first—well, you know. But I had this idea for a story...

The heroine came to me one Saturday afternoon while I was watching Project Runway. (I’m obsessed with Project Runway.) With great excitement, I told my agent all about this quirky, artsy girl. Megan was one of those kids who could take an outfit from ordinary to awesome with nothing but scissors and some thread. She saw art in fabric and texture, put together odd combinations that shouldn’t have worked but did.

What would happen to a girl like that, I wondered, if she bowed to family pressure and got a “sensible” job? And how would she feel about a sister who rejected sensibility to pursue her own crazy dream?

“Sounds fabulous,” my agent said. “You realize, of course, it’s not a romance.”

Not a romance? Heresy! Of course it’s a romance. I’m a romance writer. So I pulled out Travis, the Boy Not Taken. The bad boy Megan loved but let go. See? A real, live hero. They kiss. They—well, you know. (Hope I haven’t ruined any surprises for you.)

My agent patted my hand condescendingly. “Not a romance,” she repeated. “You want to tell Megan’s story.”

She was right, as she often is. Travis is a big part of Megan’s story, but her annoying sister and hypochondriac mother also play major roles. Sunset Bay is Megan’s journey. Rediscovering her quirky, funny side. Making peace with her less than perfect family. And yes, finding the man who will appreciate everything that’s unique and wonderful about her.

Sunset Bay was such fun to write that I almost hated finishing it. Almost. To celebrate its release, I’m giving away $250 in gift cards to some of my favorite department stores so that some lucky reader will be able to enjoy a fashion spree. You can enter at my website, http://www.susanmallery.com/.

Sunset Bay is, I’m forced to admit, women’s fiction. But wow, the line between romance and women’s fiction sure is blurry. At least for me. What’s the difference between the two for you?

15 comments:

Marilyn Tyne said...

I loved Sunset Bay. I read it the day it first came out, and I finished it that night. Her mother and father made me so mad! And I loved her sister, even though she... well, I don't want to ruin any surprises for people who haven't read it.

The difference between romance and women's fiction? To tell you the truth, I thought Sunset Bay was a romance, but I did notice the book focused on what Megan was going through in other areas of her life, too. Maybe women's fiction just has broader themes? Whatever, it was a great story, and that's what I look for.

Susan Mallery said...

Hi Marilyn--I'm so happy to hear you loved Sunset Bay. It was an interesting book to write. I enjoyed focusing on Megan a little more than I normally would!

Maureen Child said...

Women's Fiction not usually one of my 'auto' buys, LOL......but for Susan Mallery, exceptions can be made!

Honestly Susan, you always tell a great story, I don't care what niche they try to put it in!

Jen Lyon said...

Susan, SUNSET BAY sounds fabulous! The story with your agent is priceless, but she really sounds like a keeper.

For me, the difference in romance and women's fiction is that I expect romance to have a strong, almost single minded focus, on the relationship between the hero and heroine. But as a reader, I will buy any book that catches my interest, and SUNSET BAY, absolutely does that!

Christine Rimmer said...

Sorry, Susan. If you write it, it's going to be a romance. Mostly. But I agree, it's that the "woman's journey" element is bigger than the love story. Then you have women's fiction.
But I'm serious. With you, I know I'll always get a wonderful love story...

Susan Mallery said...

Maureen, Jen and Christine--thanks for the votes of faith. I agree that romance is always a strong element. I want it in a story, regardless of content. Like the first Terminator movie. The romance so made it work for me. Same with the 3rd one!

Marilyn Shoemaker said...

As you well know, I was so moved by Sunset Bay, I cried and cried. As always, your humour shone through as well. A wonderful book for women of all ages. Hope you keep writing these types of stories.

Livia said...

SUNSET BAY sounds like a romance to me, even though there seems to be some annoying relatives. I'll know soon, I have it in my hot little hands and I'm sure I'll enjoy it no matter what the genre gurus say.

Livia

Marilyn Shoemaker said...

Here's a link where the genre differences are mentioned. I'll leave it up to you writers to see if you agree.

Link: http://www.writing-world.com/romance/craig.shtml

Maureen I agree with your comment. However, lately I've been sent some to review and I'm liking them.

geri said...

Susan: I have Sunset Bay to read and have to admit that it is next in line for my attention! I just want to say that I have been an ardent fan of your writing for many, many years and I like the shifts in your work as you have moved from contemporary romance involving the US, to your sheikh categories, and then to women's fiction. The common theme is your excellent writing. Looking forward to this newest book! geri

Kate Carlisle said...

I loved Sunset Bay, too. I couldn't put it down, either! Someone mentioned the sister. At first I hated her, then loved her! I thought it read like a romance because, well, there was this fabulous romance going on!

I think Livia touched on the difference between romance and women's fiction. Women's fiction is romance with annoying relatives. Hee hee! :-)

lynnrush said...

Oh yeah, the lines are blurred. I can find romance in almost anything I pick up. **smile**

Yeah, even Terminator. LOL

Angela S. said...

I think it's becoming more and more difficult to define the difference between romance and women's fiction; the lines are really starting to blur. I think the focus on the journey of someone's life instead of someone "only" finding love is a defining characteristic. Of course, It's hard to say which I prefer--I guess it depends on my mood!

Thia said...

Susan,

Great blog!! Thank you!

I am one of those people that say the more romance the better! I have a very hard time reading something non-romance. It had better be a well-written and exciting story if I am going to give up the pitter patter of my heart. I love reading a first kiss. A good one never fails to make my heart squeeze and do a little dance. When you feel as if it is you that is being kissed, then you know the author is doing their job.

I say - BRING ON THE ROMANCE, SISTER!

Thia

Anonymous said...

great to have u here
love your books