I often get surprised reactions when I tell people I'm a romance author. After all, I'm a bloke - shouldn't I be more interested in crime novels and thrillers? You know, so-called masculine pursuits? I think it's worth going over the reasons I've chosen to stick with this particular genre.
I hadn't really encountered romance during all my years of reading, aside from when I studied the novels of Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte during my university days. I was more of a horror buff - you couldn't drag me away from the novels of H. P. Lovecraft and his contemporaries.
I have Sue to thank for properly introducing me to the contemporary romance novel. Sue is, and always has been, a huge fan of Harlequin Mills & Boon and she inspired me to try out one of the books. Soon, I'd been introduced to the wonderful writing of Liz Fielding and the many other authors working for the publisher. It didn't take me long to progress onto historical romance novels, where the likes of Nicola Cornick, Carol Townend, Joanna Bourne and Michelle Styles bring long-forgotten eras back to sparkling life.
Before long, I decided to write my own historical romance. It was a difficult beginning, not least in the huge amount of research that needs to be undertaken when first starting out. I wrote a story about a highwayman roaming the roads of 18th century England, and submitted it as part of the RNA's new writer scheme. The critique I received was enough to inspire me to carry on writing - and submitting to the NWS. Since then, I've switched eras - I now write exclusively in the Dark Ages - but my love of the historical romance novel hasn't diminished.
As genres, romance and horror actually have more in common than you might think. Both are frowned upon as examples of the basest genre fiction by fans of highbrow literature. Both devote their time to human emotions. I think that's why I love romance so much - the stories are all about getting inside the hearts and minds of real people, dealing with thoughts and feelings that all of us can identify with today.
Meanwhile, the historical angle gives me the opportunity to indulge in my passion for the delights of kings and queens, warriors and knights, castles and siege warfare. The historical romance genre is one that offers me everything I could ever want to write about. I doubt my enthusiasm will ever diminish.