I just sent off the final proof of my next book, which will come out in September. This one is historical fiction...well, I admit it's sort of a romance...set in 1870s Wyoming. But I still cringe when people call my books romance. I guess that's because romance has become so cliché and cookie-cutter, and I hate to think my writing is that.
I mean, is it just my perception, or is every romantic heroine twenty-two years old, petite, redheaded, and green eyed? Her name is always something like Saxony or Brandi and she's always a manager of an exotic travel agency or a personal buyer for someone fabulously wealthy. The hero is just as predictable - a high-power executive or SWAT team member or district attorney, with a shadowy past and a secret pain deep in his dark eyes. It goes without saying that he's 6'2", gorgeous, with a full head of hair, and he smells good.
Why can I never find a romance where the heroine is a cashier at Safeway and takes three tries to get into her nylons? Where the hero washes his white socks with his red shirt, and eats mac and cheese right out of the pot? Personally, I think we need to balance fantasy and glitter with some good ol' comforting reality. We need literature that doesn't leave us with a dissatisfied taste in our mouths. Literature that tells us we can have romance and happiness even if we're fifty-two and pudgy. Books that show us how to find love in our own lives instead of making us long for the unattainable. I worry sometimes that a generation of girls is growing up bombarded with images from books, TV, and movies that give them false expectations about what life and love are.
Maybe I'll start a line of geriatric romances, books that celebrate how much living the older folks still have left in them. I can see it now: "When their eyes met across the crowded cafeteria, Ernie was suddenly glad he'd put his teeth in that morning..."