So, Ingrid has asked me to step in and offer a few points from a romance spouse’s perspective, a care and feeding guide for the romance author in your life, if you will. Quite literally care and feeding at times, as anyone who’s lived in the same house with an author on deadline can tell you. Let me offer you a few pointers that have served me well in the last few years, and may do the same for you or the romance spouses in your life.
- Kids – Our first son was three months old when she was offered her first contract. Two hoped-for joys at once isn’t a bad thing, but signing up for deadlines and editing passes when your life is about to change in ways you can only dimly imagine was daunting. Six books and another son later, there’s nothing we’d change, but robust co-parenting is the only way to carve out a bit of writing time. Plus, it’s the right thing to do.
- Tea – Sometimes stereotypes are there for a reason. Writing runs on tea, at least in this household. Making a cup or six during a writing binge, and ensuring that the tea locker remains well stocked. (Captain Picard notwithstanding, this a Darjeeling house, but I understand other blends have their partisans.) And for the Americans in the audience, the electric kettle isn’t a Commonwealth affectation, but a valuable addition to the arsenal.
- IT – Years ago, an acquaintance who’s now quite senior in the world of romance publishing proposed a service (it would be an app these days, but smartphones were still undreamt of) to match publishing girls with nerdy guys. Clearly it’s a match made in heaven, and I deeply regret my lost millions from Tinder avant la lettre. For us, at least, a touch of interest in ‘web stuff’ has been something useful I can contribute, though obviously every couple has their own mix of skills.
- Defense of the Genre – It won’t come as a surprise to anyone reading this that there’s still a surprising amount of prejudice against the genre, particularly among the excessively dudely or literary. It has a sexist vibe that doesn’t look good on one’s friends, and it’s good to have a few bon mots on hand for the occasions it comes up. If nothing else you can be pretty damn sure that romance sells better than whatever they’re reading, and in that kind of conversation the economic argument may land when others won’t. It’s not mommy porn. Unless that’s what you’re into, in which case more power to you. We won’t judge.
- Chocolate – Stereotypes again, but if anything this is truer than the stuff with the tea. Bars, truffles, fudges, cakes, hot, mousse, the merest sniff of a wrapper if nothing else offers. I’ve been accused of having secret emergency chocolate, and it’s occasionally true, and a bit of foresight I heartily recommend to my peers.
- Research… – You know, for those climactic, story defining scenes. Purely as a matter of service to the craft, of course. Vigorous, thorough research whenever the occasion offers.
- Tea & Chocolate – Did you think I was joking? They’re both key provisions, like raw meat for lions, and just as dangerous to go without. Imagine a dimly lit office with a feral writer curled around a laptop in one corner. Absent a tranquilizer dart, which is generally frowned upon, and will do no good in hitting word count, the romance spouse has no better friend.