Writing Reality Romance Was a Novel Experience
For an Experienced Romance Writer
By Judith Arnold
After publishing 86 romance novels, Judith Arnold was asked to write her first Reality-Based Romance ™ which would tell the true love story of a real-life couple. In this guest blog, Judith talks about what it was like to write “Meet Me In Manhattan, her 87th romance novel about the true love story of New York couple Erika Fredell and Ted Skala.
I was thrilled when HCI Books invited me to write one of the launch titles for True Vows, their new line of romance novels based on real people. Being the first person to do something is always exciting. You’re a pioneer, venturing into the unknown. No one can compare your work to former True Vows books, because there are no former True Vows books. You’re the first, setting the tone for all who follow.
So yes, I was thrilled…but also apprehensive. Since selling my first book, a Silhouette Desire, in 1983, I’ve seen eighty-six of my romance novels published. I’ve written comedies, dramas, novellas, single-titles—but True Vows was an entirely new concept: romance novels based on actual, living couples. HCI Books even came up with a name for this brand-new genre: Reality-Based Romance ™.
In all those previous eighty-six novels, I had made everything up. I’d created the characters, the stories, the conflicts. Could I write a novel in which the characters were real people? Could I shape a dramatic, passionate romance story out of an actual courtship?
Once I learned about the real-life romance of Ted Skala and Erika Fredell, I knew I could. Ted and Erika’s romance was a classic reunion story. They’d fallen in love their final year of high school, spent the summer after graduation infatuated with each other, and then parted ways amid much heartbreak when Erika headed off to college. Sixteen years later, they both wound up working in Manhattan. Ted was in a serious relationship with another woman, but he couldn’t bring himself to take the next step with her. Erika had dated but never fallen in love, and she’d accepted the likelihood that she would remain single for the rest of her life. And then Ted and Erika met for a drink, a meeting that made them question the directions their lives had taken, the choices they’d made and the deepest yearnings of their hearts.
I love reunion stories—the idea that a flame you thought had burned to ash years ago might in fact have been smoldering all those years, only to flare anew when you and your former lover find each other again. I’ve written fictional reunion stories before, but Ted and Erika’s story actually happened. I turned it into novel, adding characters, juicing up the dialogue—if only we could speak as cleverly in real life as characters do in novels!—and shaping the story so it followed a dramatic arc, with all the elements readers expect in the best romance fiction. But Ted and Erika are real people, which adds an entirely new element to the reading experience. (In fact, you can see a photo of me with Ted and Erika by clicking here.)
Writing Ted and Erika’s story was a joy. I was completely swept up in its epic drama, the wild passion of their teenage love and their more complex, nuanced emotions when they met again as adults. If you love reunion stories as much as I do, you’ll love Meet Me In Manhattan.
To try out Reality Romance, you can read the first three chapters of “Meet Me in Manhattan” for free, by clicking this link.
From Tracy: Intrigued by what you read? One lucky commenter will win a copy of Meet Me In Manhattan by Judith Arnold. Enter the giveaway by leaving a comment on the previous post before 11:59pm (pacific) on 9/14/10. Winner will be announced on 9/15/10. Good luck!
Please join me in giving a big thank you to Judith Arnold for being my guest today!