I am a writer. I feel this title was bestowed on me in the womb. It’s imprinted on my skin along with my fingerprints.
How did I figure out I wanted to be a writer? It was around third grade. I had always enjoyed reading books, but had not discovered the joys of chapter books yet. When a girl in my class showed me her new book, the first book in the Sleepover Friends series, I was intrigued. She let me borrow the book and I devoured it. How could this be- that there could be a story that not only told you what happened, but it explained what the characters looked like, what they liked, what activities they preferred to do, and then had a plot on top of it all? It blew my little nine-year-old mind.
From fourth grade through middle school, I fell in love with these preteen chapter books. Sleepover Friends remained my favorite, but then there was The Baby-sitter’s Club. Not long after was Girl Talk, which seemed a little more grown up. I also loved a good Judy Blume, as I was a very inquisitive young teen. There were a few other authors (which I am embarrassed to admit I cannot recall now) that touched on sensitive teen subjects like sex, which I also enjoyed.
Once I became a certified teenager, I also developed a love of the horror/suspense genre. Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine were standards. There was a Dean Koontz that made an impact as well. I was discovering the many facets of my writer’s mind.
Then, in ninth grade, I discovered romance. Specifically smutty romance- Harlequin, historical bodice-rippers, and contemporary thrillers. I couldn’t get enough.
When I began making up stories in my head, coming up with characters, and ways to bring them together, I knew it was time to try writing for myself. I stuck with teenage subject matter, but threw in a lot of adult themes. I was ahead of my time, or so I liked to think. I had done this with my Barbies as a girl- giving them elaborate story lines that involved subjects like rape and single parenthood. I was a bit intense.
My high school writing endeavors were mostly cutesy girl meets boy stories. I did try out a few suspense plots, but I didn’t have the skills to develop them properly. By college, I was adding depth (from my own more adult experiences), which sent my characters down more contemporary adult pathways (Nora Roberts was a favorite read of mine at the time).
But, nothing stuck. Nothing seemed to make it further than the first climax. I had trouble finishing, or I would put it down for a year before finally deciding to try it out again. It wasn’t until I was firmly in my twenties that I was able to finish my first novel.
This was after I had established myself as a “real” adult, one with practical knowledge. I had also taken time to mature and get some identity work out of the way. During this time of coming of age, I also discovered yet another genre- chick lit.
How wondrous! A genre that combined my favorite- romance- with sassy, stylish characters and situations I could relate to. They also touched on the deep subjects that I aspired to write about, while still being witty and even all out humorous. FINALLY, I had found my niche.
My first three novels were solidly in the chick lit genre. Each one had a slightly different voice. The elements that seemed to make up my “signature style” were well-developed characters, emotional depth, and comic relief (in the form of “jester” characters and dialogue). I have also always LOVED details and description. I want my reader to see, hear, feel, taste, and smell everything that is happening.
Though I thought I would end up staying in this genre, in the last five or so years, I have added another genre to my mix. While my characters still tend to be modern and hip, I am now incorporating fantasy/paranormal elements into my plots. I believe this developed out of my love of sci-fi and fantasy movies and TV shows. I needed some excitement that played off the emotionality of my story lines, which I felt were getting stale left as they were.
My journey as a writer has not ended- not by a long shot. Who knows where I’ll go next? But the one thing I’m sure of is, I will never abandon romance. It is the glue that holds all my stories together. If I compared my novels today to other authors out there, I would say I’m a British chick lit author (a la Sophie Kinsella, Jill Mansell, Wendy Holden, Freya North, et al.), mixed with the intrigue of Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, and Lauren Wilig, and a generous sprinkling of JK Rowling’s imagination. After finally reading Outlander last year, I firmly believe I have a bit of Diana Gabaldon in me as well.