A big thanks to Lois and all the writers involved on the DREAMS & DESIRES project! Another thanks as well to all of you who have dropped by and offered your comments on the topic of abuse.
I think it’s wonderful that by doing something you love — like writing — you can help bring awareness of other issues, either through something like the DREAMS & DESIRES anthology or through the stories you tell.
I’ve often heard the comment from interviewers or others that I write romances, what kinds of issues could I possibly raise?
Well, I always try to put some kind of issue that I think is important in virtually every book I write. For example, and since we’re on the topic of abuse, Samantha Turner, the heroine in TEMPTATION CALLS, had been the victim of both spousal abuse and rape. Despite her life experiences, she found the strength to break the cycle of abuse not only for herself, but for other women by starting up The Artemis Shelter.
To be honest, when I first submitted the manuscript, I was sure that the scenes of abuse and rape would be cut even though I felt they were incredibly important to the story. Luckily, my editors agreed with me and kept those scenes in so that it would be possible to show the adversity that Samantha had faced in her life and the strength she had within her to not only survive, but to find a way to help others.
It was my way of hopefully bringing home a message about abuse.
So what other kinds of issues have I tried to bring out through my writing? Well, all kinds of messages and themes that I think are important to women.
In my very first novel, NOW AND ALWAYS, the issue was discrimination. The heroine was Cuban and faced discrimination not just from the American colleague with whom she worked, but also from her fellow Cubans because she was a Marielita (a boatlift Cuban).
I wanted to show that discrimination comes in all shapes and forms, even within one ethnicity or race.
There was another theme in that first book as well — the problems modern women face when they are in traditionally male roles, much like Diana Reyes from THE CALLING series. As a female FBI Agent, there are problems Diana may encounter in what was once a male bastion — law enforcement. That theme underlies all of Diana’s appearances in THE CALLING and really hit home in DEATH CALLS, when Diana has to deal with whether she wants a normal life, including home and children.
Even in books that are seemingly lighter, like SEX AND THE SOUTH BEACH CHICAS, there are underlying issues.
Juliana lacks self-confidence and views herself as not pretty because she’s more voluptuous than her friends. A big image problem for many women in today’s body conscious times.
Adriana is a control freak because she fears truly opening her heart to someone she could lose — namely Riley.
Tori — well, Tori is closest to my heart because she’s most like me — always responsible and always the one people count on even if it means she hides what she may desire most. Trust me, Tori would never ask anyone else for help. It’s not in her nature and yet, she finally finds a way to do that.
Last but not least, Sylvia, who so intrigued me that I had to write a sequel about her. Why so intriguing? Sylvia was seemingly the strongest of all the friends, and yet inside she was still the hurt little girl that daddy had cast aside. She was still hiding her heart from that rejection to the point that she pushed away any man who might make her feel something since if he left, it would reopen old wounds.
So, every time I sit down I try to think about some idea or theme that resonates with women. I want them to be entertained, but I also want them to identify with the characters because those characters are possibly experiencing something similar to what the reader has experienced.
I hope that as you’ve read some of my books, you’ve come away with that feeling of solidarity with the characters as well as a good read!