Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Beauty and Goodness of Romance Novels - Hall

By Linda Hall

In the past few weeks, romance novels have taken a hit. Entire blogs have been devoted to the fact that Christian romance novels are a) unimportant, (i.e. not leading to a worship of God) b) formulaic (i.e. they’re all the same) or c) rules driven (i.e. – puritanical and just plain weird). The implication is that Christian women shouldn't “waste their time” reading romance, especially Steeple Hill romance, because they are the simplest of all romances.

People read romance novels. These days it’s what’s keeping bookstores open, publishing companies in business, and the Toronto Star from going under. But still there is s stigma, especially for Christian women. Some time ago a judge in a romance novel competition wrote along the bottom of her judge’s sheet: "I don’t believe Christian women shouldn't read romance novels." To this day I don’t know how she got to be chosen to be the judge of that competition. Some Christian women I know actually apologize when seen in public with a romance novel in their laps.

I have written 'both' kinds of novels - important 'issues based' novels and I am now writing romantic suspense for Steeple Hill/Harlequin. I am perfectly honest when I say that writing for Steeple Hill is some of the most difficult writing I have ever done. It's way harder than my issues based novels where I could ramble this way and that. (If there IS a formula for writing a romance, could someone please send it to me?)

But more importantly, to me romance novels have to do with God. Yes. God. Some Christian romance writers say that we write romance because God gives us love and romance for us to enjoy. I don’t believe this for a minute. God didn't give us romance. It’s not for our benefit. It's for God's benefit. God IS romance. And we who are made in God’s image and know God are involved in the greatest romance of all time. Our romantic hero is Jesus, himself - the Great Romantic.

Go back and re-read the story of Ruth and Boaz (Boaz was the 'kinsmen redeemer' foreshadowing the Great Kinsmen Redeemer - Jesus Christ). If you enjoy poetry, read the epic poem, The Hound of Heaven, which tells the story of how Christ pursued us across eternity "with unperturbed pace," His love, His bride.

Therefore, every time I write a romance I am involved in an allegory, a parable which points to the GREAT romance. I am, in effect, re-writing again and again and again the story of how much God loves us, pursues us and eventually finds us.

One day we shall participate in the biggest and grandest wedding feast of all – the wedding feast of the Lamb. And talk about good food – our finest meals and most wonderful wines will have nothing on that banquet. So, until that time I will write that story over and over and over again in many different ways.

An excellent book that spells this out is The Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge. Have a look at:


Margaret Daley said...

Linda, I really enjoyed this blog. It expressed why I write inspirational romances so well. Thank you.

PamelaTracy said...

Great blog, very insightful. I'm pretty lucky. Both at my day job, and at my church, and with my friends, they all just think it's cool that I write for Harlequin's Steeple Hill line.

Linda Ford said...

Great observations. I'm proud of writing Christian romance. What better way to reveal God's love for us?

Tina Dee Books said...

Great post, Linda! Thank you. I love writing romance because three women in my life opened up to talking about how the characters handled their situations after reading a Lori Wick book series I loaned each of them. Each woman is now walking with the Lord.

I hope my romance novels will one day have that affect, to open the door of a woman's heart and either allow Christ in or deepen her relationship with Him.

Alice J. Wisler said...


Good job! Long live romance--in our lives and in our fiction!

~Alice J. Wisler
Rain Song (Christy 2009 Finalist), How Sweet It Is and (coming in 2010), Hatteras Girl

Sandra Robbins said...

Thank you for this post, Linda. You have expressed in beautiful words why I write romance. On this Thanksgiving Day, I know I am blessed to write for Steeple Hill. As you said, it is some of the hardest writing to do, but the emails and letters I get from readers let me know God is using those stories.

Sandra Robbins

Julie Lessman said...

Hear, hear, Linda -- preach it, girl! I am SO totally onboard that God is the TRUE AUTHOR OF ROMANCE. I am reading Captivating right now by John and Stasi Eldredge, which clearly points out that women, created in God's image per Genesis, were designed to be romantics because that is an essential part of who God is! So I am not ashamed to read or write romance because having a passion for Him and a passion for romance is one of the most important things we can do.

Thanks for a great post! Happy Thanksgiving to all!


Barbara Phinney said...

I like romance. I like happy endings. The Bible has a happy ending, too, BTW. So why should romance be considered bad for you?
Those who don't care to read romance, or any fiction, need to remember that the body of Christ has many parts and we are all important.
As for that contest judge, perhaps the contest coordinator should be rethinking his/her choice of judge if that person is so biased.
Barbara Phinney

Tracy Krauss said...

Thanks for setting the record straight. To say that Christian's shouldn't read romance is like saying we should only listen to hymns or artists shouldn't paint anything but pictures of Jesus. God created us to be creative AND emotional beings, and we need to celebrate that, not pretend it doesn't exist. I'd like to be part of this ongoing dialogue among Christian authors. My newly released book called "And The Beat Goes On" would be classed as a romantic suspense.

Crystal Laine Miller said...

Romance is my favorite genre.

I read your first novels and continue to read your LIS novels, Linda. You continue to have a voice I want to read. I have read and reviewed all genres in Christian publishing, and I like a good story. Period. But there's something about a romance...:)

As to romance stories in Christian publishing--God IS the Author of romance. The greatest love stories ever told are in the Bible. Have the "criticizers' ever read Song of Solomon? What about us being the Bride of Christ?

I see no purpose in Christians tearing down or siding against other Christians. Perhaps it was a lesson for all, and that lesson came at a cost.

Long live Christian romances~!

Carrie Turansky said...

Wonderful thoughts, Linda! Thanks for sharing this and speaking up for all of us who write romance from a Christian world view.

Peter Black said...

Wow! Linda.
This very interesting piece of yours has certainly opened up a veritable tsunami of response from your romance writing friends.:)

Anonymous said...

You are right, Linda, God is the author of romance, and, dare I say it... sex... in its proper context of course. I am an avid reader, and a writer aspiring to be published. I love your books and am always looking for a new one. Romance is threaded through all of life. So much of the beauty in our world is the romance of creation... flowers attracting bees and butterflies, birds singing and displaying for each other. Does God create and believe in romance? Watch a beautiful male cardinal feed his mate ever so gently... and tell me otherwise. I don't have any doubts. And for those who say all we do should be only God oriented... is it wrong to play golf, or watch anything but strictly Christian TV shows, or have conversation that always includes God/Jesus? A tall, and I believe, unrealistic order. I believe Jesus in us makes the ordinary in us beautiful and holy.

fudge4ever said...

I'm reading "Storm Warning" right now and haven't had a good spine-tingle like this for awhile!
And of course I love the romance in it. Thank you for your confident stand.
Pam M.

Marcia said...

I confess I'm one of those who used to have a bias against Romance - I didnt' think people shouldn't read or write them, but I just didn't like those I had picked up and tried to read. Until I read yours Linda. Then I realized there were some good writers writing good romance. I might even try my hand at it myself -if I ever get my sequel to One Smooth Stone finished!!
Bless You! Marcia

Popular Posts