Writing is all about transformation, in my opinion. The reader hopefully undergoes a transformation when reading a book. If all goes well, it should touch them or make them laugh and forget their problems for a while. It might inspire them to try something new or reconsider an opinion.
However, I think it should also be a vehicle for transformation within the writer. For me, writing is a constant learning experience. I feel as if I’ve learned so much since picking up the pen for book one, but I continue to discover new things about myself and my writing style every day.
When I look back at my early romances, I see books that are light and sexy and (dare I say it?) even a little “fluffy.” I can admit it. They are beach reads. Nothing wrong with that. The thing is, I don’t feel all that fluffy anymore.
I have been craving a bit more substance with my romances. This is not to imply romance can’t have substance. After all, for many, the biggest risk they can take in life is to fall in love and overcome their personal hurdles. Love can be scary and bracing and biting. At the same time, I long to explore other topics, to show a bit more of the motivations riding my characters. For many, those motivations spring from tragedy and loss.
My shape shifter series is a good example of this transformation. When it began, it was very much a fun and flirty series with easily-resolved conflicts. Each book ended tidily. Not so much with the latest books. In book 5, a new villain emerged and we glimpse a darker side to my characters and their family lives. Readers have told me they’ve enjoyed the blurred lines and darker themes and I’m so glad they have.
I’ve begun a new contemporary romance series featuring a trio of contractor brothers. When I envisioned it, again, I imagined a light, feel-good series of romances. Now that I’ve almost finished book 1, I suddenly have a subplot dealing with the hero’s PTSD. Honestly, I never saw that coming. I had his conflicts and wounds all laid out in an outline and one day I started writing about PTSD. I began to research it. This condition not only affects veterans, it can affect those who’ve witnessed tragedy (my hero’s situation). There are dark moments and I hope my readers will be willing to experience them with me.
What is the moral of this story? When you read one of my books, you will still get the elements you’ve always found in my writing: humor, fun and a whole lot of sexiness. But I think from now on, you’ll get more. You’ll see life as it is, flawed and frightening and sometimes sad. However, at the end of the day, you’ll also feel a lot of hope and inspiration. I will never leave you with an ending that is anything other than happy. That is my promise to you.