A funny thing happened to me, just around the turn of the twenty-first century – I was seized by an urge to write sexy historical romance novels. I wasn’t a newcomer to writing, though I’d never made a career out of it. Call it rather a lifelong passion, from childhood poems to grownup essays and book reviews, to the pair of erotic novels (still in print!) that I wrote in the 1990s, inspired by the discussions raging in my San Francisco feminist community, about what was possible, permissible, or just plain fun to say out loud about female sexual desire.
I didn’t write every day; I was a mom after all, and my job as a computer programmer kept me pretty well occupied the rest of the time. But when I had something to say, you couldn’t stop me from getting it down on paper. And suddenly there was a lot to say. My experience writing erotic fiction had gotten me thinking about sexual expression in other historical periods. Which led me to ask questions about what love has to do with sex and sex with love, and what sex and love have to do with freedom and respect between equals.
Or to put it another way, I began taking on the big subjects at the heart of countless lives and also at the heart of romance fiction. And I was lucky enough to do so at a moment when the romance genre was learning to write about sex, with a bracing new explicitness, and in ways that spoke to women’s whole selves through the truths of our fantasy lives.
Thrilled to find a supportive, enthusiastic community of readers and writers, I wrote four romance novels and one novella. It was the experience of a lifetime, culminating in 2009, when The Edge of Impropriety won Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award for Best Historical Romance.
And then, sadly, I found that I’d said all I had to say. But my books remain, even as the romance genre continues to evolve. And I love what I took away from the experience of being a romance writer: an abiding respect for authors who prevail over the long haul in a tough and competitive business; and a deep affection for those (like me) who have their passionate say and move on. And I continue to keep faith with a community that, at its best, is taking on a new set of long-overdue questions about everybody’s right to love, sexual expression, freedom, and respect.
I’m a grandma now. Retired from programming and novel-writing, these days I work alongside Michael, my retired bookseller husband, at our copyediting business, P&M Editorial Services. We love editing romance (check out our website) and recently we’ve begun lovingly re-issuing revised and expanded versions of my romance fiction.