Was it really 1990? It only seems like yesterday…
Once upon a time I had a dream. Yes, I really did. I was in bed with the flu and feverish. I couldn’t work, but I couldn’t let go of a dream I’d had for a romance proposal due soon to my publisher. A proposal can mean different things, but this time I was supposed to tell them the story I wanted to write. In detail. Sounds simple and isn’t. Especially when you want to tell a story that began with a fever.
Writers know that sometimes our best ideas are our craziest. But this was crazier than most. I told my editor that as I discussed it with her.
“Leslie, I’ll understand if this is too weird. I had a fever of 102, and even I know this isn’t your typical romance novel. You see, the heroine is posing as a prostitute to try to find her teenage sister, who’s run away from home. And I want to explore what it’s like out on the streets for kids who are desperate enough to leave their life and family behind.”
Luckily for me, Leslie Wainger, editor extraordinaire, didn’t want typical from any of us. You see, back in 1990, there was no “women’s fiction,” which is the genre I write in today–if it really is a genre. Romance novels were the name of the game for any novelist who wanted to be published, because there weren’t a lot of novels selling in the general fiction arena about the lives of women and our hopes and dreams.
Leslie told me to go ahead. I did, following that first book, Runaway, with The Way Back Home and then Fugitive. I say “then” instead of “finally” because as I was reading Fugitive this week to reacquaint myself with the story (remember it’s been, gulp, almost thirty years since it came out) I recognized a minor character. And yes, I’d used HIM in another book. That one, Desert Shadows, will probably be one of the next ones I re-release.
I’m always a little nervous re-reading my older books, and this one? A book I conceived while wrestling with the flu? A book begun during a restless fever dream? So I waited until the last possible moment to start it. I had a date with my cover artist that I couldn’t delay. And, wow. I have to say, I loved the book. And I loved the next one. And the next.
Of course, I wrote them. I am not a harsh critic. I was a harsh critic when I wrote and rewrote it, as I always do. But now? I’m just glad Leslie, bless her, gave me the go ahead.
I hope to release all three at the end of the year as my “Homecoming” seires. They’re not your typical romance novels. There’s lots of action, suspense, and some heavy social issues. But through it all, that shining ribbon of happily-ever-afters.
I won’t be updating these books. One in particular would suffer horribly if I added cell phones and computers. So I’m leaving them all in 1990. I was glad to go back there. I hope you will be, too.
When they’re ready, I’ll show you the next covers and give you pub dates. Stay tuned.