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    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    SAY IT LOUD AND SAY IT PROUD: I READ AND WRITE ROMANCE!

    I could spend hours sharing all of my passionate arguments on the benefits of both reading and writing romance. I could quote more market statistics. I could quote psychologists. I could quote Jayne Ann Krentz and remind you of the positive, life-affirming values inherent in all romances: the celebration of female power, courage, intelligence, and gentleness; the inversion of the power structure of a patriarchal society; the psychological benefits of spending time with authors who have a positive world view.

    But to be honest I’m a little sick of defending “romance” as a genre to people too obsessed with its sexual content to attempt to understand its emotional content. So if any of you are ever leered at, sneered at, or otherwise degraded for writing or reading romance, simply blink and gently say (really quickly), “What the romance novel is really all about is the archetypal human struggle of integrating the masculine and feminine aspects of our psyches.” I can promise you that nothing will shut them up faster.

    People often ask me why I write romance. I write romance because the ever expanding boundaries of the genre allow me to express my own heartfelt beliefs in optimism, faith, honor, chivalry and the timeless power of love to provoke a happy ending. In a society gutted by cynicism, we have found the courage to stand up and proclaim that hope isn’t corny, love isn’t an antiquated fantasy, and dreams can come true for women still willing to strive for them.

    Probably the most subversive thing we dare to do is to make the woman the hero of her own story. And to realize exactly how subversive that is, I want each of you to honestly ask yourselves if the marvelous J.K. Rowling would have been such an international success if her first book had been titled, HARRIET POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE. Traditionally, in our mainstream patriarchal society, it’s been the male character who is allowed to go on all the thrilling physical and emotional quests. Oh, he might have a female sidekick like the delightful Hermione Granger in HARRY POTTER, but she is rarely allowed to overstep her role as confidante and facilitator of his self-discovery. In a romance, the heroine acts as narrator of her own story as well as driving the various plotlines that fuel that story.

    Our heroines don’t just “stand by their men”, they “stand up to them.” And guess what—their men love it! We celebrate both a woman’s softness and her strength and introduce her to a man capable of recognizing the value of both. Is it any wonder that both she and our readers fall in love with him?

    I write romance because a young woman in Portugal named Lourdes Goulart was praying that my next book would come out before the cancer that was ravaging her body claimed her life. Even though chemotherapy had weakened her eyesight to the point of blindness, she sent me a beautiful and painstaking cross-stitch she’d done of a windmill she could see through the window from her bed. Six months ago, I received word from her sister, Rosa, that Lourdes had died. She started my new book the day before she entered the hospital for the last time, but didn’t want to read past the first page for fear of being interrupted.

    I write romance because of a call I recently received from a friend who attended nursing school with me. She’d just undergone a total hysterectomy. She described how depressed and emotionally empty she’d felt after the surgery and its numerous complications. She told me that reading my latest book pulled her out of her depression and even restored the sexual desire for her husband that she had feared she would never feel again.

    I write romance because of an e-mail I recently received from a 54-year old incest survivor. Instead of blaming her father for the terrible thing he had done to her, she had always blamed her mother for letting him do it. Because my hero in A KISS TO REMEMBER found the grace in his soul to forgive his mother for a similar act, this woman decided, after nursing her bitterness for 50 years, to forgive her mother before she passed away from Alzheimer’s Disease.

    I’d like to share one more brief story with you:

    They met in 1957 when he was twenty-two and she was eighteen. He was a skinny, handsome G.I. with a motorcycle and a devilish twinkle in his eye. She was his sister’s best friend. She was beautiful, smart, and funny. He was in love.

    They married in 1959 and three years later, while she was pregnant with what was to be their first and only child, he was transferred to Heidelburg, Germany. They lived over a bakery run by a jovial German couple named “Momma and Poppa Hartman.” On weekends, they would climb into his convertible MG without so much as a change of underwear and go racing through the countryside to explore the castles of Germany and Austria.

    The child was born in 1962. His first indication that something was wrong was when he came home from work one day to discover that his wife had given away all the furniture. Luckily, a kind-hearted neighbor had taken it in and stored it in her apartment. His beautiful young wife lost weight and stopped sleeping. Her speech was rapid and slurred. At times, she even seemed to forget that she had given birth to a baby. He had no choice but to seek professional help.

    The doctors informed him that his wife was suffering from a severe form of mental illness. It would be well over a decade before that illness was correctly diagnosed as Bipolar disorder or manic-depressive illness.

    He went driving along the river that dark, rainy night at nearly a hundred miles an hour--a 26 year old soldier in a foreign country with a brand new baby and a wife facing a lifetime of torturous illness and uncertainty. He had a choice to make. He could shuffle his baby off to be raised by relatives and abandon his wife to the care of a German mental institution. He could drive into that river and let all of his decisions be made for him. Or he could choose to live and fight for his family.

    My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year. Because my dad meant it when he said, “for better or worse; in sickness and in health,” I enjoyed a relatively stable, happy childhood and my mom’s hospitalizations were kept to a minimum. My father’s love is as unwavering and unconditional today as it was fifty-one years ago. Although my mother is now suffering from a rare and terminal brain disorder that has resulted in severe dementia, when my father visits her in the nursing home every other day, he still sees that beautiful, brilliant girl who won his heart all those years ago.

    So when people ask me, “Why do you write romance?”, I can only reply, “How could I not?”

    http://www.teresamedeiros.com
    You can follow Teresa on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/teresamedeiros and join her Facebook Page at: http://www.facebook.com/teresamedeirosfanpage

    40 comments:

    ev said...

    That was beautiful

    Donna Cummings said...

    Truly incredible -- every single bit of this. It gave me shivers. I want to point everyone to this post, so they can understand what romance is all about.

    Kimberly Van Meter said...

    Wow. That was heart-warming. Thank you for sharing such a personal piece of your family history.

    (And I love your books. I have several on my keeper shelf that I read for pure pleasure!)

    Aislynn said...

    What a beautiful story. It gave me shivers reading it.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Aislynn
    Knit Purl Stitch Read & Cook

    Sherry Cahill said...

    Wow! I am in tears. What a beautiful story, and I think it is that optimistic, hopeful soul of a romance reader and writer that others who don't "get" the genre take exception to. But, seriously, what's wrong with hope? What's wrong with taking a look at one's not-so-perfect situation and finding the best in it until, despite the ups and downs, you have a happily ever after of your very own? My life has never been perfect, never will be, but my romantic heart is happy, and it is reconfirmed every time I read a romance (especially Teresa's. Romance is a valid genre that has something to say, and I will always defend it.

    Gannon Carr said...

    Teresa, I've heard you tell that story about your parents before, but it always brings me tears. And it reaffirms that true love never dies.

    Elaine Golden said...

    What a heart-wrenchingly beautiful post, Teresa. Thank you.

    Anna Campbell said...

    Teresa, that was absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much for posting this!

    Jennie Marsland said...

    What a beautiful post. We read and write romance because it calls out the best in us, like it did in your father. What other justification does it need?

    Camille said...

    Thank you. Wow that was...amazing. I work in a large chain bookstore where I do proudly declare (it's on my ID lol) that my passion, is romance. I have friends who were cynics but I hate having to think of having won them over to my cause because it really shouldn't take so much convincing. It's a genre I repeatedly state is inherent in every other style of fiction whether it be literary, crime or fantasy. As you can see I do my fair share of defending XD

    thank you again!!

    Saranna DeWylde said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    mel said...

    You have me in tears! Such a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing!!! Just beautiful!


    Melodi

    ChrisS said...

    Teresa, this is beautiful! Thank you for your sheer honesty and for writing romance! As a reader I am honored. God bless you and your family!

    Saranna DeWylde said...

    I had a #typefail. So sorry. :)

    Anyway, I love this post. It was beautiful.

    Thank you.

    Lisa said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Andi said...

    Although this says it all... I read romance because it gives me hope, makes me laugh, cry, scream, and believe that someday my price will come... In a time when your world is falling apart and everything you thought you knew about human nature blows up in your face, you can turn to a good Romance novel for a little escape and the power of love to remind you what truly maters.

    Kelle Z. Riley said...

    Thank you for posting this. It reaffirms all that I believe about Romance as a genre. We all need to have hope that we, too, can have a happy ending to our lives if we only perservere through the hard times with great love.

    June M. said...

    Beautiful story...Thank you for writing romance novels!

    Keira Soleore said...

    Terrie, there's the reason right in this post why I'll always read you. I have heard your parents' story before, but I cry every time I read it. Your mother was blessed having him in her life; what's more, your father considered himself blessed to have her in his life. Yes, how could you not be a believer of romance and become a romance author.

    Becky said...

    Love your books! Never stop writing. You touch so many lives.

    HistoricalRomanceJunkie Rita said...

    Thank you so much for writing and sharing.
    Whenever people look at me weird for having two romance books in my purse at all times, or squealing in delight no matter where I am when I get to a good part, I always feel a bit of pity for them. We as readers are so lucky to get the chance to open a book a truly feel the love being described. We're damn lucky to have passionate authors like you to write in this genre.

    Thanks for putting your heart into all of your books.

    (and I also have a mother who suffers with mental illness. I can remember being 7 or 8 and watching paramedics wheel her out on a gurney at 2 in the morning. I am just starting college and trying to 'find myself', but you must know better than most how a parent's mental suffering stays with their child. I am so inspired by your candidness and strength and wish the best for you and your family. Romances keep me going, give me hope, so thanks for following your dreams and giving me an escape for a few hours!)

    Louisa Cornell said...

    Ladies,if you ever get the chance to hear Teresa speak in person don't miss it! Teresa, your books, your life and the story of your parents' true love affair in a world where so many forgeries of love are considered newsworthy are one of the greatest ambassadors for romance fiction ever.

    To you and all of the many other romance novelists whose books I have read - THANK YOU! Thank you for entertaining me, making me laugh, making me cry and getting through every crisis in my life by showing me over and over again life's greatest truths - Love is the greatest force in human existence and anyone can achieve a happily ever after if they just believe they can.

    E.C. Smith said...

    Great post! I'm passing it along to everyone I know.

    Karen Ware said...

    That was a beautiful post, Teresa! I'd never seen the story of your parents and their time in Germany but it is a real life love story.

    The reasons you give for writing...so touching. This was a great post to appear Valentine's weekend.

    Teresa Medeiros said...

    Ah, Rita, we share some of the same memories.

    Ellen said...

    The very thought that your existence wouldn't include grand and wonderful stories of romance and life, would be to sad. Even your blog is like reading a great book. Your last line made tears run down my face. We love you Teresa, can you tell?

    Anonymous said...

    That is the most touching, beautiful story and it's perfect for Valentine's Day...thank you for sharing it...I feel so for your mom...I was diagnosed as manic depressant years ago, an while I never gave the furniture away I did try to give my hubby away on the radio

    Joy Allen said...

    I just finished reading one of your books (I am bad at remembering titles) that incorporated part of your story in the history of Lottie's husband. I loved the book and I am even more moved to know that it came from your own life. I have a step-daughter that has this condition and it is very difficult to manage since they don't want to take their meds during the manic stage. God bless your father and his loving acceptance of the whole person your mother is. My prayers are with you both as you support your mother in her last days on this earth.

    Bre said...

    wonderfull..I am still crying..in a good way :)

    Anonymous said...

    Well said! Thank you. It always surprises me that some people put down such a wonderful genre, when romance movies rake in millions upon millions of dollars.

    Thank you for sharing your family's story, so heartwarming.

    Hauckston said...

    Inspiring! I am always so amazed how people take an unexpected situation, accept it and then choose to use it to make their life better - profound. It is beautiful that you've used this gift from your father to create and share.

    Daphne said...

    OMG... That was.... Beatiful... and full of true!!!

    Sandra Hyatt said...

    Sitting here with goosebumps on my arms and tears in my eyes.

    Ms. Lulu said...

    Your parents' story is so beautiful. Like "The Notebook" in real life. Keep on writing - I fell in love with your books since Nobody's Darling!

    Yvonne Lindsay said...

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    I'm so glad I got to read it. I think we are among one of the few career choices that are constantly asked to validate why we do what we do. No wonder our world is in such a state, hmm?

    Lyn said...

    Wow! You've said better than I ever could why reading romance is worthwhile.
    I just don't share that I read romance with the people that I know will judge me for it.

    Sara Mickel said...

    Teresa, the first book of yours that I read was "Charming the Prince". I loved it because it was funny and delightful and didn't take itself too seriously. I still have it.
    Now I realize that the real message from that, and your other books, is that anything is possible; that it's easy to be negative, and a lot harder, sometimes, to be positive, but positive is BETTER; and that true love does conquer all.
    With Thanksgiving coming up, we all need to think about what we do have and what we can do, and how lucky we all are to be here.
    You said that when you shared your story with us.

    Jessica Peter said...

    Fabulous! I was inspired by a combo of your post + a book I just finished to make a post of my own - I hope you don't mind that I paraphrased you! http://jessdoesstuff.blogspot.ca/2012/03/kick-ass-chicks.html

    Kristel Franco L. said...

    Oh my ... it was such a lovely story... touching one.

    I´m glad you write, because I can feel through your books all the emotions inside the pages.

    I love your books...!!

    Best regards. =)

    Elisa Llewellyn said...

    This is the most beautiful thing I've read in a long time, and now I understand so much of how you portrayed Abby's relationship with her mother so well - I too have a mother with bipolar disorder and I can't tell you what it means to see it discussed in such a loving, understanding manner. Thank you. (also, this is one of the best arguments "for" romance novels I've seen)