Why I Write Romance

Posted September 19, 2023

Photo credit: Atharva Dharmadhikari

Okay, let’s get to the heart of an important question: Why do I write romance?

We can start with the question of why I write at all, because the answer is an easy one—I can’t not write. Story resonates in me and all around me, and it likes coming out in words. Sometimes those words shape themselves into chapters and books, sometimes not. 

(Sometimes, to be honest, story rings so true and so deep within me that there are no words.) 

But why romance? 

Isn’t that the world of bulging pecs and ripped bodices, of cheesy lines and flimsy plots, of dog-eared pages tucked into drawers? Isn’t it the section inside the double doors and outside the security scanners, with the cheap stands we breeze past on our way to more illustrious content?

Romance is a huge genre. Yes, it fills the cheap boxes at the door, but it also finds its way into almost every other section on the store shelves—think tales of princesses and dragons, comedy sketches and cozy mysteries, swashbuckling sci-fi epics and wild westerns. A touch of romance can brush a dusting of magic over any story, giving it wings to fly beyond the cerebral and into the sensual. 

As a reader, I’ve known this for years, long before I picked up anything blushworthy. When I open the first pages of a new novel, I want to love. I want to care about these new characters, my new would-be friends, inspirational heroes and heroines. I fell in love between sheets of paper long before I found any romance beyond them. And story by story, I learned what love could look like, for me and maybe even real-life humans like me. 

Because humans like me fall in love. And it’s fun.

Photo credit: Jaddy Liu

Yes, I’m a scientist. An academic. An intellectual. An elder in my church. A mentor. A mother. A beloved Child of God. A practical, efficient, “get-it-done” organizer. A sensible human being. 

So I write romance stories about all that—about human beings. Humans who meet other humans and pay attention to them. Care about them. Love them. For me, the draw in a story is in the depth of the characters, in how compellingly an author can craft their fictional human beings, in all their breathtaking humanity. That turns me on. More than bulging pecs.

I’ve learned over my years of writing stories that most often it’s the story that chooses the writer. And for me, most often it’s the characters that choose the story they want to tell. If they want to meet-cute and fall in love, so be it. If they want to push the limits of gender expectations or body image conformity, they have my pen and my blessing. If they have stories to share about their struggles against unjust systems, I will go there with them, with courage and humility. 

So when into my head pops a brainy skater girl with half a PhD and the other half bad memories, who's bumping into an old friend turned small-town firefighter with a heart that hasn’t moved on… I drop everything, pick up the pen, and become a romance writer.

What about you? What stories are speaking to you right now?

Find your Fun,

Melissa J.

P.S. Want to read the story that made me a romance author? Find Skate Cute here!