We are beyond excited to have author Lucy Monroe join us today to share with us how the current social climate changes thanks to movements such as #MeToo have changed, or not changed, how she writes romance.
May 1st is Protomagia in Greece, otherwise known as May Day (or Labor Day internationally), because this is the day that people take off work, and head for picnics in the countryside. Honestly? I can’t imagine Andreas Kostas (Kostas’s Convenient Bride) taking the day off, any day off. I’m pretty sure that the years he spent living in Greece with his despised Georgas family, he never observed such a holiday. He was too busy scheming for a way out. A way out of Greece, a way away from the family that caused his mother so much grief, a way to make his mark on the world without the Georgas influence.
Because he is an alpha hero, a man confident that he is supposed to have a place in the world and that place is not at the bottom of the ladder. It’s at the top. He’s pretty damn sure that his best friend and business partner, Kayla Jones is supposed to be at the top with him.
But when he shows up in New York, tracking her down, she’s utterly shocked.
Because he’s taking the day off. More than the day, he’s taking off as long as he needs to ensure Kayla makes it back to their hometown of Portland, OR. Why? Because he’s stupid in love and totally ignorant of that fact, but he thinks it’s because he’s worried about his best friend.
Yes, again…Andreas Kostas is an alpha male. And like most alpha males (and females) he’s not
great at reading his own emotions.
And I adore him. Full stop.
I’ve been asked if I felt the need to change the stories I write because of the #MeToo movement and the changing political climate, demanding acknowledgement of women’s personal power and equality in the workplace. Like a lot of other romance authors I love to read, my books have always been about empowering my characters.
Kayla (Kosta’s Convenient Bride), is brainy, strong willed and self-aware enough to realize when she’s not getting what she needs from the current circumstances of her life. I started this book over three years ago, long before the impactful social-political movements shaping our present and future.
For me, romance has *always* been about empowering women. Empowering people. I have gained a reputation with editors (and readers) for writing “issues” books, for writing characters who *talk*, so the conflict always has to be something far deeper than can be solved with simple conversation.
It took me so long to finish because of my health, because my doctor (and I let him) made some abysmal choices about what kind of medication I should be on to prevent migraines. But the truth is, this book is the book I set out to write way back then and finished last fall.
Because isn’t life like that? Talking and communication in all its forms is so very important, but conflict? The stuff that makes life hard for all of us? It’s not just about understanding one another, though that can be a huge component. It’s about living in the trenches of life, where things get messy and we don’t always have the control to change what hurts us.
Saying, “No,” doesn’t always result in someone backing down. And isn’t that what we’re fighting? We stand together insisting that actions live up to rhetoric, knowing that for all of us at one time or another, they don’t.
So, I write characters that aren’t perfect. They fight for their happiness, for their futures, but they make mistakes, just like we do. They give in sometimes, only to come back later standing more firmly than ever. They stand firm, when they should be open to compromise. They are human.
Not super human. Not perfect (which incidentally is a construct we each create in our own head and isn’t going to match from one person to the next).
My alpha heroes aren’t flawless. They have all sorts of faults. But they aren’t alpha assholes as some have dubbed them in the media lately either. They are human beings strong enough to pair with the women, imbued with their own personal power, that I write. The people that populate my stories may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
But then I’m not either. I’ve been alpha female my whole life and that’s caused a lot of conflict for me, because society doesn’t always look kindly on the bossy girls, the girls who stage sit-ins and start petitions when they’re in grade school and progress to marching on the Capitol by the time they are in high school. The women who grow up to insist on equal voice in their marriages and other relationships, who get the education supposedly reserved for men. And finally, who choose to write books that are primarily for women…written by…again primarily women, edited and purchased and marketed by…once again primarily women.
I’m okay with that. For a long time, I wasn’t. I fought my own nature, trying to fit in, to be softer, more acceptable. Not to rock the boat all the time, to stifle my own opinions.
You know what helped me find my own power? Reading romance by authors like Jayne Ann Krentz and Lori Foster. Authors like Christine Feehan, who writes consistently strong female characters who have deep wells of compassion. I get those women. I *will* sacrifice for those I love, but I will not be walked on.
So, in answer to the question, “Do you think it’s time to change what you’re writing?” my answer is fundamentally no.
I hope I’m always striving to write a better book, to stay relevant with my plots and my characters, but do I want to write less pushy, more touchy-feely characters? No. I want to write pushy, assertive men and women who are (and have always been) a little touchy-feely, maybe surprisingly compassionate and protective of one another. I want to write the characters I can admire, root for, hope for and yes, sometimes want to clobber. Just like real people. Imperfect people.
Strong, confident, amazing people who change the world because they don’t try to fit in.
Bio: With more than 7 million copies of her books in print worldwide, award winning and USA Today bestseller Lucy Monroe has published over 70 books and had her stories translated for sale all over the world. While she writes multiple subgenres of romance, all of her books are sexy, deeply emotional and adhere to the concept that love will conquer all. A passionate devotee of romance, she adores sharing her love for the genre with her readers.
You can learn more about Lucy, her books, and sign up for her newsletter via her website.
What do you think about flawed heroes, and heroines for that matter? Have you found reading about them empowering? Has the romance genre to be empowering for you? Lucy mentioned some specific authors in her post, authors she found empowering to her as a reader. Which authors do you find empowering to read?
I like flawed characters as long as they’re not doing something criminal or abusive. Many times, flawed characters derive their strength from being flawed.
I like that – and I agree, Denise – not only does a flawed [character[ often have more about them – it lets them know what they can handle – and probably show more compassion than otherwise.
And/but [ironically?] … 😛 I’m ok with some criminality BUT!!!! it depends on a) what it is and b) the reason. Guess while LEGALLY and professionally I’m against “street justice” … in certain times, for certain reasons, if it’s not too serious … <.< I'm good with it.
OR! Even if it is serious – e.g. there was a McKenna book(?) where the hero was in prison for beating the shit out of his sister’s rapist, who was never charged etc. So … based on where they came from, what happened, what DIDN’T happen … while I wasn’t cheering that or anything, of course… I got it, and was ~ok with it/it didn’t ruin him being a hero for me.
With criminality, I was thinking physical abuse or something along those lines.
I could understand some smaller crimes and do believe in redemption–depending on what occurred, especially the circumstance you mentioned.