Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reflection about the stories I write. Often, I get caught up in author articles regarding various genres and what’s hot. Hot usually equates to more sales. And who doesn’t want more sales? Unfortunately, the lane I’ve traveled for my personal storytelling doesn’t seem to want to change even though I often think of attempting other types of stories and characters. My only stretch has been to Gothic romance once with A Portrait of Perfection, which was a challenge. Unfortunately, my brain is void when it comes to paranormal, science fiction, or murder mysteries (no matter how many British murder mystery shows I watch). Contemporary is difficult, except for the one I’ve written, but I have another partially finished tale that I grew bored with some time ago and put aside.
One thing I’ve come to understand about myself is that I thoroughly enjoy writing about flawed characters who eventually learn from their mistakes and grow. I see that in The Legacy Series in my characters with Robert, Suzette, young Robert, Jolene, and Philippe. I believe I’ve dragged that family through quite a bit, giving them obstacles, lessons to learn, and growth that leads to happiness. Each of them were flawed in their own way.
Some of my other characters in Dark Persuasion, Blythe Court, and Thorncroft Manor have their share of flawed individuals, too. I’ve definitely had chances to kill off a few — especially Rupert in Dark Persuasion — but I saved him from the cliffhanger to bring about reconciliation with his brother instead. It’s interesting to note that in reviews, being too flawed can make an irritable character. I get that criticism a lot in Thorncroft Manor with Caroline.
A recent article that I came across indicates that one of the hotter trends in romance these days is “clean romance.” You know, the Fifty Shades mentality is supposedly dead and people are swinging to the opposite. I’m not sure if that is true, but when I think of myself writing clean romance, I frankly struggle. The connotation of clean romance to me is not just kissing scenes and nothing else. Often, when I read them, the characters are so squeaky clean they never see temptation or struggle between right and wrong. Otherwise, those thoughts become “unclean” so to speak, and do not get addressed. Let’s face it, folks, we all face temptations in life, and we all have flaws.
I’m especially going to be guilty of that in Ladies of Disgrace because each of my ladies are fallen women, and to get that title means illicit sex. However, as you can see behind Lady Isabella, there are no graphic sexual scenes and there will be only one obvious (but less descriptive) scene in Lady Grace. My focus in these books are the ladies who I have chosen to create and the temptations they face. I’m more interested in the flaws of women in these eras and the reason behind them. To think that people have no flaws or never think a thought about what it would be like to make love to someone they adore lacks reality.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just not in my heart to be the truthfully squeaky clean romance writer. Perhaps that is because my own past love life has been riddled with flaws, mistakes, and unhappiness. The old adage to write what you know rings true in my pen. It doesn’t mean I may branch out and try a different genre every now and then, but I know that my writing focus is elsewhere.