All The Kissing is a celebration of all things love, kissing, and romance in the written word. That’s why we offer this blog and host this community, and that’s why you’re here (and we’re very, VERY glad that you are. 🙂 ) The ATK admin team got together to discuss some of the reasons we love the romance genre, and what we hope to see from this beloved genre of ours in the future.
What has romance taught you?
Alexa: Romance has taught me so much. Mainly, I think it has taught me how to be completely and unapologetically myself. That, no matter what other people might think of that, I still deserve to be happy and I still deserve to have my story told. For writing, it’s taught me that trope is not a bad word and that just because I know there will be a HEA, that doesn’t mean every single book doesn’t have a different, and fascinating, journey to get there.
Gwynne: Reading and writing romance has taught me that it takes a lot of skill and imagination to put a new spin on the standard plot arc. It’s more than just meeting the beats and having all the right romance elements. It’s about attention to the characters, their motivation, their own personal arcs. Reading the way skilled writers intertwine all of these elements is such a treat, and a very special art form.
Lindsay: Is it cheesy if I say romance has taught me how to be a softer, more loving person all around? How to open up and own your emotions and tell people when—and how deeply—you care about them? That it’s okay to embrace feelings and celebrate love, that there’s a rich, heady power that comes from allowing your heart to still cherish soft things in a world that is hard? Whatever. That’s how I feel and I stand by it.
Maxym: Romance has taught me so much. It’s hard to narrow it down to one or two things, but I’d have to say the most impactful lesson I’ve learned from reading and writing in the romance genre is how to construct a compelling character arc. Romance, at its core, is about the characters. People. And coming up with a story that grips people from the first page and keeps them reading late into the night? That requires a compelling cast. While yes, a strong plot is still necessary to keep the story moving forward, there’s something to be said for characters who feel real, tangible, and go through situations we can all relate to.
Tricia: Romance has taught me that when the world has gone sideways it’s okay to have hope, and relish the optimism and warm-fuzzies I get with every happily ever after. I’ve always loved character-driven books, and there’s no better genre to learn how to create in-depth character arcs that readers become invested in. I think we, as romance-writers, do characterization at the highest possible level.
Shannon: Romance has taught me little details and behind-the-scenes of so many professions. I love the research authors put into their novels and feel a bit more educated when I finish a book. Romance has also taught me the value of happy-for-now in a world determined to be burned to the ground.
Why do you love this genre?
Alexa: I love that I can go into a novel and no matter how dark or how difficult the road is for the MC, that at the end they will be happy. And I don’t care what that says about me, sometimes I just need the validation that everything is going to be okay. Also, I am obsessed with how unapologetically feminist romance is.
Gwynne: I love it because at the end of the day, you know you’re going to find your way to an ending that’s happy, uplifting, and satisfying. There are plenty of other genres to read if I want to be depressed for weeks, but with a romance, I know I’ll have a smile on my face at the end. Yeah, we put our characters through a ridiculous amount of heartbreak and angst, but they come out from it all the better. More well-rounded. My #1 reason for loving the genre is because it takes us on an emotional roller coaster ride, but we know that ride won’t fail us.
Lindsay: I’m echoing others here, but I agree—the best part of the genre is the HEA. I want to feel good at the end of a story, and romance consistently delivers. Additionally, I super-duper love that modern romance is increasingly feminist and All About Women’s Pleasure. I’m 110% here for it.
Maxym: I love this genre because LOVE. Love is SO powerful. Honestly, our world is kind of grim these days—there’s so much happening out there, so much pain and hate and violence, and I think romance novels are in a unique position to show everyone that we can rise above all that. That love truly has the power to change worlds, teach acceptance, and put us in a better place. It’s not just about the sexy times, though those are fun, too!
Tricia: No matter how many books I write, the romance community is by far the greatest reward. Whenever I’m having a tough time, I turn to my community and find the support that I need waiting for me. That is a priceless gift.
Shannon: This genre speaks to me on all levels. It’s my preference for reading. No matter the peril or tension in a novel, I KNOW it’s going to all work out and the main characters will find happiness. I love writing about love and every day people struggling to find it. And agree with Tricia about Romancelandia. This genre’s community is everything.
What would you like to see change in romance?
Alexa: Inclusion. Diversity. Even though we’ve seen growth (go Kennedy Ryan!!!), it’s so slow and it feels like there is this constant dance of one step forward, two steps back. I know I started writing because of a craving to see someone who looked like me in one of the books I read. My hope is that the next person starts writing not because they feel they have to, but because they want to. And, that while they write, they aren’t worried that their race, sexual orientation, religion, or anything that makes them different won’t prevent them from getting their book in reader’s hands.
Gwynne: Greater inclusivity, more diversity, more openness from more readers. The romance community hasn’t been without its ups and downs, but in general it’s a kind, loving, and welcoming place. The books are evolving to reflect that as well. As long as I’m dreaming, I’d love to see romance respected as an equal genre, so that people didn’t have apologize for reading and liking it…and the authors would no longer feel like they owed apologies for writing it.
Lindsay: To continue moving toward a place of greater inclusion, hands down. Love is love, and love is for everyone—and publishing needs to continue opening up its doors for diverse love stories of all kinds. Ooooh and now that I’m reading Gwynne’s answer, I do agree, I’d also like to see us nix the “guilty pleasure” jargon and “omg kissing, how embarrassing” attitude that’s plagued the genre (largely from outsiders, to clarify). I’ve been known to aggressively/lovingly correct friends, family, and coworkers who say romance books are their “guilty pleasure.” There is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, I will die on this hill. Like what you like; life is too short. Also, I’m rambling now, so I’m going to shut up. You get my point. #RomanceForever
Maxym: More diversity and inclusion across the board. We’re making strides, but we’re far from done. There will always be some level of unconscious bias that we’ll have to actively address and move beyond, but we have the power to do that. In a genre that’s all about love, why wouldn’t we accept everyone? Isn’t that the core of what we’re writing about?
Tricia: It’s not a secret that writers in other genres (albeit, not all writers) like to look down their noses at romance. I’d like to see authors across all genres receive equal respect for their craft and the stigma of reading “mommy porn” smashed to bits by the writing community. I think that starts with acceptance as equals across the board. We are all writers and the fact that one writer pens space operas or literary fiction does not make that author any better a writer that one who pens paranormal romance. I also want to see romance evolve inside our own community. We must be inclusive and accepting of marginalized voices. Everyone deserves to see themselves reflected in their heroes and heroines, and though we’re making progress…well, we got a long way to go, folks.
Shannon: I’d like to see other people’s attitude toward the genre change. Romance writers (and readers) are laughed at, dismissed, ridiculed, and pushed aside because romance isn’t considered literary work (whatever that means). Speaking of dismissed and pushed aside, I’d also like to see romance authors’ attitudes toward diversity, inclusion, and equality change too. There’s enough backlash outside of our genre, we don’t need the pearl-clutching inside of it also.
To Sum it Up…
With such similar answers, is it any wonder the All The Kissing team came together to create this incredible community? A way for us to celebrate our favorite genre, support and encourage other romance writers in their journeys, and provide a safe and brave space for authors to ask questions, share all their triumphs and struggles…and maybe learn a little about the artistry of romance writing as well.