Why I Transitioned from Writing Romance to Writing Women’s Fiction
After years of writing happily-ever-after romance novels, author Robin Wells delves deeper with her historical fiction series.
There’s one piece of writing advice that I’ve always tried to follow: write the book you’d love to read but can’t find, because it hasn’t been written yet.
For 17 years and 16 novels, that meant I wrote books that were classified as romances—in most cases, romantic comedy. Think Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, or Pretty Woman; that was the feel I was going for. I love a good heartwarming story about two likeable characters finding each other, experiencing the humor and heat of falling in love, then growing and changing as they work through their problems to live happily ever after. I love the magic of love. I adore happy endings. I like to laugh. I believe that as a rising tide lifts all ships, love lifts all aspects of a person’s life.
Over time, however, I yearned to write with wider scope and deeper nuance. I wanted to examine women’s friendships and family ties as deeply as their romantic involvements. I wanted to look at historic events, societal changes and how women’s roles have changed over time. I wanted to write books that not only entertained, but invited thought and discussion.
I’ve always been fascinated by the WWII era because it was such a time of tremendous upheaval and change. My dad was a WWII veteran, and his stories—as well as the tale of how he and Mom dated three months, became engaged while he was overseas, then married the week he came home—fired my imagination.
I decided to set a series of novels in the fictional town of Wedding Tree, Louisiana and show the town and characters at different time periods. When I wrote the first book in the series, The Wedding Tree, the novel not only had different subject matter than my previous books; it also had a different tone. For one thing, it was the first novel I’d written in first person. For another, half of the story took place in the 1940s. The book still contained humor and romance—a lot of romance!—but it also covered loss, letting go, change, fear, procrastination, forgiveness and acceptance.
The second novel, The French War Bride, begins in Wedding Tree with 91-year-old Paris native Amelie O’Connor opening the door of her assisted living apartment to find her husband’s ex-fiancee, Kat, standing in the hallway.
“Before I die, I want to know how you stole Jack from me,” Kat says. “I know you tricked him, but I want to hear how.”
Amelie tells of a girlhood interrupted by war. She describes the dark days of Paris under Nazi occupation, her secretive work for the French Resistance, and the impossible choices war imposes – choices that juxtapose the survival of loved ones against the accepted standards of right and wrong. She tells how she met and married Jack, crossed the Atlantic on a war bride boat, then struggled to earn Jack’s trust after he uncovered the trail of deceit Amelie had left in her wake.
Is everything fair in love and war, or is nothing fair in either? I hope you’ll look for a copy of The French War Bride and decide for yourself.
Before she became a full-time writer, Robin Wells was an advertising and public relations executive, but she always dreamed of writing novels—a dream inspired by a grandmother who told “hot tales” and parents who were both librarians. Her books have won the RWA Golden Heart, two National Readers’ Choice Awards, the HOLT Medallion, and numerous other awards. She now lives in Texas with her husband, but will always be a Louisiana girl at heart.
There's nothing we love more at Shelf Pleasure than a ..
Author and Shelf Pleasure contributor Karen A. Chase on how ..
One of author Mary Miley’s favorite things about being a ..
Author and police psychologist Ellen Kirschman, Ph.D., weighs the pitfalls ..
Little known fact about Shelf Pleasure's Kristen: she's obsessed with ..
Although Debbie De Louise has been a librarian and avid ..