While I do battle with the evil blogsquatter Desi Jumiati, I have a guest blogger. Mark R. Hunter is part of a rare breed: a man who writers romance. That’s right–romance. Nicholas S;parks isn’t the only one of his kind! So…Mark, the floor–uh, blog–is yours!
Okay, so I insist on calling my stories “romantic comedy”, because it sounds so much more … mainstream. Like humor is my beard. But isn’t writing supposed to be all about being new and original? Shouldn’t I, then, loudly proclaim my entry into the girl’s writing club? The truth is there have always been male romance writers, just as there have always been female, say, science fiction writers. SF had James Tiptree Jr, C.L. Moore, D.C. Fontana, C.J. Cherryh, Andre Norton, Marion Zimmer Bradley – well, I thought they were all guys, when I thought about it at all.
About 98% of romance novels are written by females, which makes sense considering 90% of romance readers is female. However, this leaves 2% of romances written by guys – and with over 7,000 new romance novels published every year, that becomes a fair number. As opposed to a fair sex number.
I, of course, chose to write romance due to my commitment to equal rights and feelings of …
Oh, who am I kidding?
I started out writing science fiction. Fantasy, really, since my very first story as a preteen was an adventure to the Land of Oz. In my teens I was all about SF, usually including either great space battles or much violence and sex, or all of the above. Then I became interested in firefighting and started mixing the space opera with great sagas of blaze battling derring-do.
My firefighting tales always contained a large percentage of female firefighters, even though this was the early 80’s and the concept was still foreign to many people. Why? Because I liked women, that’s why. My main character, as is common with teenage writers, was basically me, and me liked to be around woman. (He was a dull, dull character … be assured you’ll never see him.)
Then I started a humor column and got married (to a woman, so there’s a pattern) – and no, I’m not interested in being psychoanalyzed to see if there’s a connection.
When you write 52 columns a year, you learn two important things: To meet deadlines, and to find material everywhere. I found my mom’s old 70’s romance novels, with the bodice ripping and the character names like Brock, Dex, and Hyde. Suffice it to say that I savaged the genre, because that’s what humor writers do. (I’ve since turned my attention to politicians, lawyers, and criminals, but I repeat myself.)
But I was married – and my wife loved romance novels. No, the column’s not the reason she divorced me. I assume.
She challenged me: Had I read a romance recently? No, I had not: I was going by the memory of seeing five year old romances that my mother had laying around the house ten years ago. So I picked up a few new ones, and discovered they’d changed for the better – modernized in every way, no longer with old fashioned characters or cookie-cutter plots. They were no longer confined to any requirements other than a happy ending, and sometimes not even that.
Then my former wife said: “You know, nearly half of all novels being published are romances.”
That got my attention.
Don’t get me wrong: If you try to write a genre just to make money, you’re doomed to failure – the reader can tell. I’d read dozens of them before I decided to take a crack at writing one, and even then I poured through two books on writing romance first. The third one I wrote, Storm Chaser, sold to the small publisher Whiskey Creek Press. It’s perhaps ironic that I was long divorced by then.
I like writing romance – excuse me, romantic comedies – and I plan to keep doing so. Just the same, I plan to keep writing in other genres too, even if that upsets some future agent or publisher. My new short story collection, Storm Chaser Shorts, is – you may have guessed this – based on the characters from Storm Chaser, but the stories themselves cover several different genres. They’re pure humor, action-adventure, drama, and one that turns out to be fantasy (and which calls back to my original Land of Oz story).
So someday you’ll see firefighting stories from me, space opera, humor, post-apocalyptical fun, and maybe even that long promised Oz story. And romance.
Because I’m not a romance writer: I’m a writer. And I’m proud.
Mark Hunter’s first novel, Storm Chaser, was published in June, 2011 by Whiskey Creek Press. WCP also published his collection of short stories, Storm Chaser Shorts, in June, 2012. Mark has also appeared in My Funny Valentine, a humor collection by various writers and artists.
In addition to his full time job as a Noble County Sheriff’s Department dispatcher, Mark is a newspaper writer whose humor column is carried in three local newspapers; a 30 year veteran volunteer firefighter; and a volunteer writer for a few local non-profits. When asked if there’s any stress in his life he laughs hysterically.
Mark can be reached through his website, www.markrhunter.com, and his works can be purchased at the publisher’s website, www.whiskeycreekpress.com, or on Amazon athttp://www.amazon.com/Mark-R-Hunter/e/B0058CL6OO .