Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Writing Happy Endings—The Beauty of Romance.

I know I’ve mentioned, a time or two, that I love a good romance. One of the reasons I do is the happy ending. The fun is seeing what the characters go through to get that happy ending—sometimes parroting life, at times holding love as something worth fighting for. Life is full of horrific happenings. Love is strong and I happen to think it’s one of the strongest and most enduring qualities. It survives being poor, wars, sickness, and even death. It holds hands with hope and the belief the world isn’t so bad if you have love and share love.

My guest today is Romance author Stephanie Julian. She shares why she likes happy endings. Pull up a chair and join in the discussion.

There is coffee, tea, and yes, now a nice pot of hot chocolate, plenty of scones and muffins. *sliding a crystal bowl of Junior mints near Stephanie. We can’t have withdrawal pangs, Steph, lol!

Thanks for having me, Sia. Do you mind if I bring hot chocolate? I don’t do coffee. Or tea or alcohol (though I love Fuzzy Navels and Mojitos). I don’t smoke either but I do have a wicked addiction to Junior Mints.

And romance.

I’ve been a romance reader all my life, since I first discovered Harlequins in the mid 70s. I think I was eight or ten. I was a pretty precocious reader, graduating to Bertrice Small and Rosemary Rogers by the time I was twelve.
I also read a lot of fantasy, including Tolkien, Eddings and Brooks, and every Stephen King. But even as I enjoyed those stories, I was always looking for more romantic elements. And was vaguely disappointed when a book didn’t have enough romance.

At college, I majored in English. I loved Shakespeare but of course I was the one who wanted to rewrite the ending of “Romeo and Juliet.” The greatest love story of all time and they both die? What the hell? Yes, it’s an amazing written work but I’ll stick with “As You Like It,” thank you very much.

That preference for a Happily Ever After is why I write romance. People who don’t understand or look down on the genre don’t fully understand the appeal.
Why do you want to read a book where you know the ending? That question is one you hear a lot from people who read books where all the major characters die at the end, usually in horrible fashion.

I read romance because I like to believe that life isn’t always so dire. That there is hope and love does triumph even when your world is crumbling down.

Pollyanna much? Maybe. But isn’t that the beauty of romance?

When Rhett Butler walks out of Tara and away from Scarlet, I knew one day she’d follow him and win him back. Same goes for Ilsa and Rick in “Casablanca.” Actually, I just finished working on a ménage so maybe Ilsa and Rick and Victor… Maybe not. But Ilsa and Rick are meant to be together, even if they have to wait until Victor dies heroically liberating death camps.
In my Magical Seduction series for Ellora’s Cave, an entire society of Etruscan magical users has hidden itself in our society, clinging to their old ways while trying to fit into modern life. They still retain their magic; they worship deities (who just happen to be living among us, as well) and fight to keep themselves and their families safe in a world that, if they were exposed, probably wouldn’t look too kindly on them.
Some of them have horns, wings and pointy ears and can change into wolves and other animals. But these stories are first and foremost romances and the central story is always two (or three) people falling in love amid turmoil, suspense and conflict.

How they overcome their obstacles to live Happily Ever After is the best part for me. Yes, writing the sex scenes is fun and exciting but having the story unfold before my eyes is even better. I’m not a detailed plotter. I have a general idea of the story before I start but I typically just start to write when I finally have the main characters in my head.

I had a leg up on that plot for “Seduced by Danger,” the sixth book in the series, just released from EC. It’s a continuation of the story told in “Seduced by Chaos.” I knew Michael and Cara before I started their book and I knew where their journey would take them.

They were going to have a pretty rocky road but, at the end, they would come through and be stronger for it. Together.

And isn’t that what we all want?
Stephanie Julian is an avid reader, who used to have a book-a-day habit. Then she realized she not only wanted to read books but write them, too. Romance has always been her first love, the sexier the better. Hot men, strong women and a heaping helping of magic dominate (and she does mean dominate) her blazing hot stories.

When she's not writing, she's, well... she's certainly not cleaning. And she only cooks when her guys complain that they're hungry. Otherwise, she's got her fingers on a keyboard, her butt in a chair and her head in the stars.

For other books in the Magical Seduction series by Stepanie Julian, visit Ellora's Cave

This and other titles in the series are available now.

SHADOW MAGIC (on the left) Featuring Seduced by Magic and Seduced in Shadow, books one and two of the Magical Seduction Series.


~Sia McKye~ said...

A warm welcome to Steph! I'm so glad you were able to visit with us Over Coffee.

Anonymous said...

Those are the same reasons I love romance, for the happily ever after and a sigh (sometimes tears) when I close the book when done reading. Great post. Oh, and Scarlet so went after Rhett and they did live happily ever after too. At least that is what I always believed.

Stephanie Julian said...

Thanks so much for having me, Sia. You can ply me with scones and Junior Mints anytime.

Stephanie Julian said...

Thanks for stopping Amy. I'm sure somewhere Rhett and Scarlet are bickering happily.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Amy, I always thought that Scarlet was such a fool for wanting the insipid Ashley when Rhett was so much better. Then she gets him and she's still pining for Ashely. Wanted to kick her! Stupid woman.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Steph, for you I have a nice crystal bowl full of Junior Mints and plenty more where those came from, lol! I will admit, Junior Mints and Yorks Pepperment, afterall, Yorks advertises, "be Sensational" and of course I am. lmao!

Anonymous said...

i like to celebrate the moments of my life with a cafe vienna and a good ellorascave book.

i know what i am doing this mother's day. thanks for the inspiration stephanie.

best, joyce

Jamie C. said...

I like my endings happy most of the time. That is the main appeal of romance. Actually, I was watching V for Vendetta last night (yes, I'm on the late news) and the movie had a "happy ending", but the romance did not. Made me mad. V deserved a happy romance ending. Stooopid movie!

I always thought Rhett could do soooo much better than Scarlet--spoiled brat. She grows up toward the end and he likes her less. Huh? And no, Rhett shouldn't have gone for Melanie either--insipid dishrag that she was.

Don't mind me. *goes off to mutter in the corner

Steph, I love your covers. Gorgeous and sexy. I've got to ask what Etruscan magic users are though. Is this common lore that I'm clueless about or did you invent it all yourself?

Anonymous said...

Romance, for me, is about the journey to Happily Ever After. Nothing is more annoying than thinking I'm going to get HEA and then there is a tragic twist. Screaming is involved. smile

I'm a pantzer too. Half of the fun is watching the story unfold in front of me. My characters sometimes surprise me in the most delightful ways.

Stephanie Julian said...

Sounds like a good day to me, Joyce. Hope it turns out that way.

Stephanie Julian said...

Hey Jamie,
I've been blessed by the cover gods, truly.

And the Etruscan mythology is real (the Romans stole a lot of their mythology from the Etruscans) but the magic angle is purely my imagination. The Italians have all those fairy folk in their folklore but I've twisted and remade and flat out made up the rest.

And I love it.

Stephanie Julian said...


I know there've been a couple of books that I've tossed (Cold Mountain, anyone?)

I love when I've written something in the opening of a book and realize at the end why it matters. There really is a muse out there.

Sheila Deeth said...

Neat. I think I'm coming back to romance after a long time away. I always associated them with my mother - so read them avidly when I wasn't supposed to, then stopped. But now I know why my Mum loved them, and I love them too. My reading diet needs some reliable treats.

Other Lisa said...

Hmmm....I'm mixed on the HEA. I like it, but I want them to WORK for it, dammit! I mean, I like points along the way where you really don't know, is this going to work or not? Are they going to make it?

About now's when I should utter some cliche about journeys & destinations, but I think y'all know them already!

Sewicked said...

If I want a depressing story, I'll watch the news. *threatening mutter* I want my HEA.

There have been the occasional romance ending where I was thinking, 'hm, they're okay now but unless they work at it, they're getting a divorce in three years.' Blech. Luckily, those are rare.

Then there have been the ones that some misbegotten son (or daughter) of a diseased camel marketing person put under the romance label that did. not. have. a. HEA. I want my HEA. I want things to be right. If the HEA of the couple (or menage, etc) in the story is not what I want for myself, that doesn't matter. It matters that they are happy.

That's another reason why I like series. The ones where you get a brief glimpse and see that 'yes, the couple from book 1 are still going strong' or 'they're arguing but they resolve it & their marriage/relationship is stronger.' It confirms the HEA.

Some mysteries give me a similar feeling, when the ending is just, well, right. And some fantasy novels (another couple genres that I frequently devour), but it's not part of the genre formula, so sometimes you don't get that HEA.

Stephanie Julian said...

Well, welcome back Sheila. I was always sneaking my mom's books. Loved Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss, probably well before I was supposed to.

Stephanie Julian said...

Lisa, I agree. It's no fun if they don't suffer for it. Especially the man. I always want him to beg. And yes, in all ways...

Stephanie Julian said...

Sewicked, I've always loved fantasy for the scope of the story they tell. I've been a Terry Brooks fan since high school and David Eddings and Tolkien. Probably why I write them.

Judi Fennell said...

So, are there any Junior Mints left from the Florida road trip? ;}

I love Steph's stories. And, no, I don't have to say that because I'm her CP - I really do love her stories - that's WHY I'm her CP.

Stephanie Julian said...

Judi, you know I'll share my Jr Mints with you anytime. But, uh, no there aren't.

Kat Sheridan said...

Steph, I'm with you 100% in wanting my HEA! I've been a romance reader most of my life, and am now venturing into writing them. Like other folks, I enjoy the journey there, the moments when you want to kick them for being blind and stupid (probably why Rick and Ilsa always have been and always will be my faves - they SOOO end up together!) Gorgeous covers, and the stories sound great! Sia, as always, you are a wonderful host!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Good thing I stoped by Wal-Mart on the way home,huh? *filling up the crystal bowl with junior mints and another with chocolate kisses, dark, milk chocolate, and almond...

Steph, I really enjoyed Eddings series. I also enjoyed Anne McCaffery. They both had elements of love and happy endings--not without work, mond you, but there

I had a friend had me The Notebook a couple of years ago. Oh, I just loved this book she said. Okay I read it and I was seriously ticked. wtf? Died? love story? Then she had me read the next one which I can't remember, and it ended up tossed across the room. He writes wonderful romance she said? pffft. I agree he writes well, but someone put something in his cheerios while he was writing. sheesh. I want them to work hard on the coming together, I don't care if they break up, battle, or whatever, by by god, at the end of the book, they had better BE together and happy!

Helen Ginger said...

I like the idea of combining fantasy and romance and modern life. Your books can certainly appeal to a wide array of readers.


~Sia McKye~ said...

Thank you Stephanie for visiting with us Over Coffee. It was fun.

Thanks to all who stopped by to comment and share their thoughts--it always adds to the fun. :-)