Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Writer's Wednesday: Getting Ideas from Brownies

Cheryl St John reveals where she gets her ideas and why writing romance is important!

There are several questions authors are asked regularly, so we either give the same old answer or we’re constantly on the lookout for a new and interesting reply. Like this question for example: Where do you get your ideas?

Trust me, there isn’t a writer who isn’t rolling her internal eyeballs and groaning at this question.

Well, I get my ideas from brownies. Did you bring any?

When are you going to write a real book?
Excuse me? When they stop paying me so well to write these fake ones.

No, I mean why do you write romance?
Big question. No quick answer. I write romance for the same reason I’ve read romance for so many years. For the same reason that first one I ever read awakened something inside me to the vast possibilities and challenging scenarios in this genre. I love romances. I love losing myself in the emotional adventures of two diverse characters who are destined to be together. I guess I want to believe that there’s somebody for everyone, and that under just the right circumstances and with a bit of that magic we call romance, happily-ever-afters are within our reach.

Before you scoff and call me a Pollyanna, I assure you I’m enough in tune with reality to lock my doors and warn my children of strangers. I watch the news and I see the state of our world. But what do we have if we don’t have hope?

Romance is all about hope.

Years ago I received the most memorable letter I’ve ever received from a reader. She told me how much she’d enjoyed my book, how she identified with the characters and how she’d cried her eyes out for the heroine. She shared that, like the character in my story, she’d been stalked and beaten by someone who should have loved her. Unlike my character however, the reader has permanent nerve damage to her arm. Her story touched me so deeply that I sat and cried. This dear person’s true-life story forced me to consider the validity of what I was doing.

I sat at my desk thinking how shallow my work is. I mean, I make all this stuff up! I order peoples’ lives around and manipulate them to suit my plots -- but it’s all fiction.

While I sit in my comfortable climate controlled office with every possible convenience at my fingertips, sipping cup after cup of chai tea and munching M&Ms, out there in the world are people experiencing devastating hurts and losses and traumas. In that light, what I do seems so inconsequential.

That thinking lasted about, oh, ten minutes. And then it came to me -- I realized why this young reader had been touched so profoundly by my story. She said she hoped that some day she would meet a man like my hero, a man who would love her that same way. She had hope.

Romance is about hope.

We invest our time in the characters in these stories because we know that no matter what dilemmas befall them, no matter what obstacles they face or which conflicts arise, in the end love will conquer all; good will win over evil; and a happily-ever-after will prevail.

Each of us hopes there is a special someone out there, a special man or woman who will love us unconditionally and fill that place created in our heart just for them. Romance brings our hopes to life. Through these stories of love and commitment, we experience the fulfillment of the human dream.

What better reason do we need to love romance than a desire to be swept away in the pages of a story filled with excitement and expectation?

I write romance because I want to share the same sweeping emotions with my readers that have been shared with me by my favorite writers. I want to feel. I want to experience the excitement of falling in love over and over, of facing my fears and winning over seemingly impossible odds.

I write romance because it’s who I am and what I believe in.
Why do you read it?

Cheryl St John has written over thirty-five books which deliver “emotional punch, hometown feel, core values, believable characters and real life situations.” Her latest The Preacher's Wife is out now.


  1. Great blog, Cheryl! I love reading anything you write.

  2. Cheryl...AMEN. I agree 100%. I remember an early letter as well from someone who had been through something similar as a heroine and how humbled I was that I had touched someone as deeply as I had. And I agree wholeheartedly that it is about hope. After all, the state of the world could be a very negative thing if it weren't for the shining ray of light that is love. I love going on that journey to overcome with my characters. You are quite right - it's all about HOPE.

    Fantastic blog. :-)

  3. I read romance because it gives me an escaoe and something wonderful to dream about. LOL For a short time I can forget all my cares and read about someone triumphing over their's and finding that HEA.

  4. Hi Cheryl, You've said it perfectly. Hope is why we read and write romance. The Preacher's Wife" is waiting for me as soon as I finish the lastest project. I can't wait!

  5. Hi Cheryl, I enjoy reading all of your books.The Preacher's Wife sound wonderful.Have a good week.

  6. Wonderful blog, Cher. I love romance because of the happy endings. And like you, I believe in hope. Without it, you might as well not wake up in the morning. My hubby was dangerously ill last year and without hope, those months would have been so cold and dark. And yay, he's all well. HEA do work!

    Hugs...and keep on writing. I just ordered The Preacher's Wife.



  7. Cheryl,
    AMEN. I love reading and writing romance because I see a world that could be. I know reality is different but I hope for the dream. I love seeing love conquer problems. I love seeing broken hearts mended by love. Generally, I love the genre.


  8. Hi Cheryl,
    I think I'm starting to become a groupie. =)

    Anyway, I still remember the very first romance novel I read. It was called Night Jasmine. I can't remember who wrote it and I've never been able to find it again, but from that first book, I was hooked. I was 16 and ready to experience first love and I knew I wouldn't settle for anything less than the sweeping-me-off-my-feet romance. I read many romance books because it let me have a peek into what I wanted to find in the future. Which, eventually, I did find the love of my life. The guy who made my heart flip-flop and the warmth creep up my neck. =)
    I read romance now for the same reason you mentioned in your post...I love the feeling of falling in love over and over again.

    Thanks! Enjoyed your post!

  9. Good morning to all! Stephanie, WE LOVE GROUPIES! lol

    It's delightful to have so many lovers of romance all gathered in one place, isn't it?

  10. hmmm, and I get ideas from people talking about getting ideas from brownies. :)

    wherever your ideas come from is a wonderful place!

  11. Lovely post, Cheryl.

    I read romance because I enjoy strong stories with happy endings.

    And I write because it's my way of putting sunshine into people's lives. (I had a reader letter once which said she read my books when she was having a bad day and it made the world feel good again, and this job is the nearest I'm ever going to get to having a magic wand.)

  12. >> Excuse me? When they stop paying me so well to write these fake ones.

    Well said. That had me laughing. That has to be the single most annoying question ever.

  13. Cheryl,
    That's a wonderful, inspiring post, thank you!

  14. I love the thought of bringing sunshne into people's lives!

    Ally, I think that question runs second in annoyance to "Where's the bathroom?" LOL

    Hi Abi and Caarol!

  15. Hi Cheryl!! I love reading romances because they make me feel good! sorta like reading your blog every day!!

  16. I enjoy reading historical novels because they usually make the past sound more interesting than the present, and I'm all for a bit of escapism!

  17. Cheryl, loved your post! I would have cried too, if I'd gotten that letter from a reader. Your book made a difference in someone's life. That's every writer's hope.

    Romances novels are satisfying, just like chocolate. I'm drooling over those brownies.