During the run of its 30th season premiere SEX WITH STRANGERS, Renaissance Theaterworks will shine a spotlight on Wisconsin authors. On Saturday, October 28th the company will host a Mini Book Fair in the Studio Theater lobby of the Broadway Theater Center from 3pm to 10pm featuring Wisconsin-based authors and members of Romance Writers of America (RWA). As an advance introduction to the authors, Renaissance asked them questions related to the various issues and conflicts presented in the play SEX WITH STRANGERS by Laura Eason. Here is the seventh interview of the series.
Historical Romance Author
RTW: What attracts you most about writing romance novels or the romance genre in general?
BOBBI: For me the romance genre is all encompassing. I write in the timeframe of antebellum America, a time when romance was…well…romantic. There was no Internet, no emoji hearts or kisses to send with the tap of a finger. People spoke face to face. Yet in their story there can be mystery, even psychic experiences that they don’t understand and are loathe to talk about. Within the story there can be murder, intrigue and even espionage. Within the wax and wane of the romance, the writer weaves a tapestry depicting the complexities of the lovers’ day to day lives. Is it a ‘romance’ novel? Surely it is but it is not just a story of two people who find love, it is a story of the time in which they live, be it nineteenth century or present day.
What I find most attractive about writing romance is giving the reader a heartthrob or possibly a heartache. I want the reader to care about the characters, to become one with them and miss them when the story is finished. If the characters come alive for the reader, then I’ve done my job as a writer. Bottom line…just because it is classified a ‘romance’ novel doesn’t mean the story isn’t a compelling, page turner as well.
RTW: Have you ever felt dismissed because you write romance vs ‘serious’ fiction? Have you ever been tempted to use initials to disguise your gender as a writer?
BOBBI: Quite often I have been at a social gathering, meeting new people, and someone asks what I do with my days. (Odd question but people actually do ask.) When I tell them I’m a novelist I can see the interest in their eyes. However, when I tell them I write romance, the interest dies and the smile fades. Their expression clearly states that somehow writing ‘romance’ is not really writing. “Oh, you write trashy stuff.” With that statement, I have been summarily dismissed. “No,” I respond to their blatant disinterest. “I write romance interwoven with an intriguing story.” Depending on the other person’s expression I’ve sometimes even continued. Are my novels fine classical literature? No. Actually, they are fun, light reading, but with a powerful story and irresistible, heart stopping characters that I hope will grip you to the very last page.” At this point I sip whatever is in the glass in my hand and smile sweetly as any good romantic heroine would do. I love the romance genre and it is ‘serious’ fiction to anyone with a heart beating within them.
I can’t say that I’ve ever been tempted to use initials to disguise my gender as a writer. I’m honored to be a part of the genre. No matter what the gender of the writer, when lovers meet sparks fly. There’s a story to be told, and I feel privileged to present it.