Most of the time, people think romance novels are just fluff, or smut, or frivolous. Or all of the above. However, most of the people who think that way fail to notice how romance novels examine and confront social issues. In my novels, I explore power dynamics in relationships (let's face it, they've changed drastically over the last 50 years), moral dilemmas created by romantic situations, and the empowerment of women. In Love or Justice, my first novel, my heroine, Laurie, goes from being a woman who only fights for herself when her survival instincts kick in to a woman who takes charge of her own safety. In Fractal, which will be released on September 17th, my heroine, Anna, spends the entire book trying to find the courage and the wisdom to be the leader her people need. Like all women, Anna has the potential to be a brilliant leader, but she needs to believe in herself first. And yes, there are lots of kisses and steamy scenes along the way, but at their core, the novels that I write are all about social issues and how women struggle with and overcome them.
In other parts of the world, where the treatment of women is far less respectful than it is here in the US, romance novels are part of a growing social movement. This article from NBC explores the reasons behind a growing number of progressive romance novels being written and distributed in Nigeria. These are the early signs of a feminist revolution! These stories by women advocate against conservative Muslim traditions such as child marriage and quick divorce. They're also read on the radio, to make them more accessible to the illiterate. These novels are even inspiring young girls to learn to read in a country where many girls are not allowed to stay in school, or they are pulled out of school at the age of 13 and forced to marry.
Remember, this is the country where Boko Haram kidnaps, rapes, and terrorizes girls. Yet, these romance novelists are risking their lives, with pen in hand, to lead a revolution through inspiring romantic stories.
I admire these writers more than I can say! I wish I could help them publish even more stories and reach even more young girls.
I write about power dynamics in relationships, the empowerment of women, and the ethical and moral dilemmas love can create in our lives. This is a space where I meditate on those themes and share them with the word. Who knows, my next novel may start right here...