Romance By Accident
I have a confession to make. I used to be a literature snob. I was an English teacher, but even before I started college, I only read the classics. It never occurred to me to read romance. After college, my mother started reading Harlequins and I remember thinking why? Don’t get me wrong. I will always love Steinbeck. To Kill a Mockingbird will always have a special place in my heart. But classics aren’t the only good stories out there.
I actually came to romance by accident. I picked up a book at Costco (2 books in one) by Nora Roberts. I had no idea who she was—until I went to the bookstore to pick up another book by her. Anyway, I read that book and fell in love. I’ve always been a reader who is drawn in by characters. I connect with them and they become part of me. There are characters in classic lit that had that effect on me (I’m looking at you, Holden Caulfield), but never like what I experienced reading romance.
All of a sudden, I was reading about these people who remained totally relatable, even if they were in unrealistic situations. I couldn’t get enough. Reading romance helped me to have a better understanding of myself and the people around me. If they are nothing else, romance novels are a study in human relationships.
Some people give me a look when they find out I write romance, like it’s somehow beneath me. I should be doing something more important. But if I can make a reader feel, transport her somewhere else, give her a break from her life, I’ve done my job.
Romance is a lot of things to a lot of people. For me, it’s both and escape and a learning experience. The joy of reading anything is the journey you get as a reader—and that’s something to celebrate no matter what the genre.
Shannyn’s Reading Recommendations
I have so many authors that I love to read: Julie James, Victoria Dahl, Ruthie Knox, Hanna Martine, Jill Shalvis, Jennifer Crusie…the list could go on for pages. 🙂 An up and coming author I’d like to recommend is Sonali Dev. First, I must admit that I know Sonali personally, but I’d love her writing no matter what. Her debut, A Bollywood Affair, releases later this year. Her writing is beautiful and the story fun.
Questions for Shannyn
Describe the most daring, adventurous or inspiring thing you ever did.
In truth, I’m not a very adventurous person. I’m a planner. I live by schedules and routines. However, as a gift to myself when I graduated high school, I decided to travel to London for two weeks. I was lucky in that I had relatives that I could stay with to save money, but other than that, I was on my own. I thought nothing of it. I don’t mind being alone, but I remember many people looking at me like I was crazy. I had a great time, doing some touristy stuff and a bit of wandering. I only wish I would’ve taken more time or taken more trips after this.
Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)
I always wrote when I was younger, but I never considered being an author. I came to reading romance later than many people, but once I discovered the genre, I gobbled it up. When I got to the point that I was reading 3-4 books a week, I decided to try my hand at writing one. I had no idea if I could, so it was just an experiment, but I found that I loved it. That first book was a learning experience, and will never been seen by others, but after completing it, I was bitten by the writing bug.
Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)
The Return of Rafe MacKade by Nora Roberts – this was the first romance that I can remember reading. I picked it up at Costco and didn’t even realize that it was a romance. If I hadn’t picked up that book, I don’t know that I would be writing now.
Shannyn Schroeder is the author of the O’Leary series, contemporary romances centered around a large Irish-American family in Chicago, as well as the Hot & Nerdy New Adult trilogy available this fall. When she’s not wrangling her three kids or writing, she watches a ton of TV and loves to bake cookies. You can find out more about Shannyn at her website, Facebook and Twitter.