Let’s talk about the ugly love stories.
I recently got into a discussion with a friend of mine who has been kind enough to be beta reading Doors as I add to it. We were able to go over so many different aspects of the story and I could pick her brain on different character development and plot points. But a lot of what it came down to was the ugly side of the story and how I’ve been trying to portray that. Hopefully, when Doors releases sometime in the next two months, you too will see the little nuances of how Colt dealt with the trauma in this story.
A part of the discussion I had was about today’s romance novels. My novels, Crossing Lines and when Doors releases, are categorized as romance. YA Fiction, new adult, romance – it will fit into those categories. I’m not sure how I feel about this. It’s hard because people will ask me “oh, what do you write?” and without fail, I always hesitate to answer. I’m not ashamed to write romance. I love a good romance novel just as much as the next girl. But do you know how many silly, sappy, happy romance books I’ve read this past year? Way too many. There are thousands of them out there. And it’s great. You want a happily-ever-after love story that’s so cheesy there’s no way it could ever happen to you but my gosh, it’s just so cute? Perfect. There are hundreds of those. I get them on my Kindle entirely too often. It’s like just because they’re only $1.99, I can buy a new one every day, right? (My bank account says otherwise).
But do you know how many of those happy, sappy romance novels I vividly remember out of the literal dozens I’ve read this year? Probably two. That’s not to say they weren’t well written. Or that they didn’t make me laugh, or swoon, or fall for the hot, alpha male. To put it honestly, they’re simply unextraordinary. Sometimes that’s what you want to read. Just a happy, simple story that you can smile at and know everything works out in the end. I think that may be why so many people like to read romance. You get that happily-ever-after you don’t always see in real life. But the problem with that is the stories become forgettable.
I like the stories that rip your heart out and then stomp on it for good measure. (Could you tell from how I wrote Crossing Lines?) I like the books that you can’t put down because you’re on the edge of your seat just waiting to see what could possibly happen next. I like the novels that you think may actually work out and then have a last paragraph that leaves you shell-shocked. Give me the book that makes me cry and makes me so angry. Those are real stories. Those move you. Give me a book that leaves me with a book hangover for the next week because I’m so hung up on what happened that I can’t possibly even think of picking up another book while my mind is still in turmoil over this one.
I want Colleen Hoover’s Verity where I can’t possibly imagine what messed up turn it will take next and still get floored by the ending and a month later I still think about it at least once a day, because seriously Colleen? What the fuck.
I want Tijan’s Ryan’s Bed where it’s gritty and painful and honest but there’s so much love and happiness, too but then that ending. Woah. Yeah, didn’t see that one coming at all. Thank you Tijan.
I want Heather Orgeron and Kate Stewart’s Heartbreak Warfare where that protagonist is so badass but so sweet and you’re so torn because is there really a right decision here? Where they don’t shy away from the ugly, brutal stuff you never want to live yourself. Where you see first-hand what a condition like PTSD is truly like. It’s not smoothed over and pretty. It destroys.
Give me the real stories. I want to actually feel when I read. I want to make you feel what I write.
With that being said, Doors is not pretty. It’s ugly actually. It’s heartbreaking and sad and at times downright abhorrent. Because you want to know the harsh truth? This stuff is real. People aren’t happy, sappy, sunshine and butterflies. People are ugly. People are messy. But in all of that, there’s still love. It’s an ugly love, but sometimes I think that’s the most amazing kind.
I want to give you that messy story. I want to give you an ugly love. I hope you want to read it.