I love romantic love. I always have. It’s my favorite thing to read, and obviously to write. One of the biggest joys for me about romance novels is watching the main characters build and find a connection. That spark, that feeling of knowing, that “wow, you really get me!” kind of connection. Physical attraction is important of course, but truthfully, that’s the lust part. And that element only means something in romance because it compels the characters into each other’s space. But what keeps them there, or makes them keep coming back for more? Both in real life and on the page, what makes a relationship something real, something special, is that deep soulful connection that two people find as they’re falling in love. And when two people connect in such a way, it can be downright magical.
I think that true love, at its core, is finding another person that you feel that inexplicable but undeniable click with, and it’s completely mutual and reciprocated. It’s feeling truly understood and appreciated for who you are, in a way you don’t with others. And yeah, being crazy attracted to them is an amazing, heady rush all its own. But true connection is something that can’t be manufactured or wished into existence. You just FEEL it. And it’s amazing. Sheer joy.
In romance, we like to watch characters connect, on several levels—emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Isn’t that what everyone really wants, deep down? And in a romance novel, watching the story unfold and the characters make their way toward each other… the magical little moments that sparkle and heat with that budding connection… that euphoria is what makes it resonate for me when reading. It’s also one of my favorite elements of what I love about writing romance. Reading and writing about that kind of connection brings me joy. It gives us hope that that kind of joy is possible for all of us.
- Tell us about a moment in your life when you experienced sheer joy. In May 2015, I was driving home along beautiful roads on the North Shore of Long Island, the lush trees as a canopy overhead and the sunlight sparkling off the Long Island Sound to my right. I’d just left a fabulous dinner with some of my closest writing friends, after a lovely afternoon spent amongst colleagues at the Long Island Romance Writers’ big annual luncheon. Between the gorgeous scenery outside, the upbeat song playing in my car, and thinking over the events of the day, I was suddenly overcome with gratitude for how special and fun the whole day had been. And it hit me: I’m a professional published author, and my writing career is starting to really happen. It was a moment of realization that all the hard work I’d been doing for years was finally starting to pay off. I was overcome by such gratitude and joy, something like soul deep euphoria, that it brought tears to my eyes. It was powerful and wonderful. Sheer joy.
- Tell us about a place that brings you joy, or is attached to a memory of joy. A place that brings me memories of joy is the little house in the Poconos that my uncle used to own. Throughout my childhood, until my late teens, my family would all go there together for a weekend: my mother and brother, my grandparents, my uncle, and me. It was less than three hours from Long Island to the Poconos. Nestled deep in the woods, the simple wooden house had a long backyard that went right to the edge of a lake. I loved being surrounded by all the trees, or staring out to the water beyond from the back deck. I could read or write for hours and no one would make me stop. I can even hear my grandparents laughing in the sun room if I think hard enough. We had great times there.
- Tell us about a sound that brings you joy (or a memory attached to sound). Of course, my children laughing would be that, but that’s an easy answer. The sound of wind rustling softly through leaves also brings me joy. To me, it’s soothing, peaceful, and life affirming, all at the same time.
- What recent book have you read that brought you joy? The most recent book I read that left me all warm and fuzzy inside, happy for the characters’ HEA, was The Boyfriend List by Jeannie Moon. http://jeanniemoon.com/books/list/ Nate is my new book boyfriend. I like guys that are alpha but with a sweet side, and smart, and sexy… he’s all of that and more. And I was so rooting for Jenna to get out of her own way, and she did. Loved it.
- For fun, the joy of choice – pick your Chris! Even though there’s a ton of them, I had a hard time picking my Chris! Came down to either Christopher Reeve (in his Superman days, that man was stunning and charming and everything) or rock singer Chris Cornell (his voice is aural sex).
There are so many wonderfully talented authors out there, I could put together a list that would stretch on for pages. But off the top of my head:
Eloisa James www.eloisajames.com – I love historical romance, and Eloisa’s writing just shines with wit, intelligence, and high emotion.
Jill Shalvis www.jillshalvis.com – I know there’s no such thing as perfect, but her contemporary romances are the closest thing to it I’ve read in the genre. Her stories are packed with humor, emotion, and heeeeat.
Jane Porter www.janeporter.com – I don’t cry often from books, but her Christmas At Copper Mountain had me bawling. Gut punches of emotion in her stories.
Rebecca J. Clark www.rebeccajclark.com – I adore her small town romances. Her characters are so relatable, and are full of heat and the emotion.
This was so fun to do! Thank you Tule Publishing for hosting me on your blog and for asking me to be a part of this, Lorelei’s Lit Lair and Bobbi! Being a part of Read A Romance Month is an honor.
You can find Lorelei’s Lit Lair essay here.
Jennifer Gracen writes contemporary romance and romantic women’s fiction. She likes to write about tangled mature relationships, with equal doses of humor, warmth, passion, and gravity. A mother of two young boys, she originally hails from Long Island, New York and lives there currently. When not spending time with her family and friends, reading, or writing, she also does freelance copy editing and proofreading, and is a professed social media addict. Her latest book, HIS LOVE, was released by Tule Publishing in July. It’s one of three novels in the Summer in New York series.
More info can be found at her website: www.jennifergracen.com
Thanks so much for the shout out. :) The rustling of the wind through the trees is also one of my favorite sounds. In fact, I was outside just a few minutes ago, sitting under the maple tree and just listening.
I really love your work, Rebecca. And that you get me on the wind-through-the-leaves thing. :)
greatest joy ever will always be my kids….. even if I were to ever become an author , while great, it would mean anything without them…
Make no mistake, my two sons ARE my greatest joy in life. But we (the participating authors) were asked NOT to talk about our kids, families, weddings, etc. as our greatest joys, or we’d likely all have the same answers. :)
My kids are my heart.
my brother had a house in the poconos–it was so cold there in the winter. lol
What a nice write up. I love Jill Shalvis’ books too! I waited two months to read the last Lucky Harbor book just because I didn’t want the series to end! Silly…I know.
love reading your books as you know!!!