Life Isn’t Romantic – Amy Harmon
Life isn’t romantic. It’s hard and ugly, and people have bad breath and big bellies and thinning hair. Couples age together, see each other at their worst, annoy each other, hurt each other, and even hate each other sometimes. That’s why we women love romances with mythical creatures that sparkle, never age, don’t get bad breath or work as mail men, school teachers or plumbers. We need that escape, that fantasy, because life is so genuinely un-fantastic sometimes. And that mythical creature can make us swoon, giggle, and pant and never expects us to make dinner, lose a little weight or wear something besides sweatpants. (I love mythical men!!)
I started writing romance because that’s the kind of book I love to read. Frankly, whether it’s a blockbuster movie or a best-selling book, if it doesn’t have romance, I’m not very interested. However, the first time I saw a porno – now I’m blushing – I made the mistake of thinking I was going to get romance. I didn’t. And I was not impressed. Nor was I moved, touched, soothed, or inspired. That’s when it occurred to me that romance isn’t necessarily about sex. And I wanted to be a romance writer. I wanted to write the kind of romance where sex is not the climax. No pun intended. To do that, and make it realistic, I have to create scenarios and plot lines where the two main characters can’t have sex because of age or distance or propriety or, in the case of Slow Dance in Purgatory, because one of them is a ghost.
In my bestselling novel, Making Faces, one character is a soldier who comes back from Iraq gravely injured. His injuries and insecurities hold him back in physical situations. In my latest novel, Infinity + One, the two main characters are on the run, and it’s not possible or believable for them to be pulling over and engaging in sexy time. In my first book, Running Barefoot, my characters start out at thirteen and eighteen, and sex is not even part of the equation. In my novel, A Different Blue, I made the main character a senior in high school and, in order to allow my characters to build a relationship that is NOT based purely on physical attraction, I made the leading man, Wilson, her young teacher. I didn’t do it to be controversial or provocative. I did it because I didn’t want sex to be part of their relationship, not in the beginning. Instead, these two characters learn from each other, inspire each other, become friends, and eventually (spoiler alert!) fall in love. All of these scenarios. In each of my books, allow both the reader and the characters to get to know one another without expecting that at any moment there should be sex.
In my books, love always comes first, and sex, well…I’ll let you find out for yourselves. I want the characters I create to be REAL, just like you and me – or you and your sweetie – and yet come to love each other anyway. No immortality, sparkles, or granite abs allowed.
For me, and probably most women, a good romance should be emotionally erotic and not just physically erotic. Unlike porn, romance novels are about both. We women enjoy sex…but not just for sex sake. We need that emotional connection. My own love life doesn’t look like a porno flick. And that’s a good thing! I wish I had the tight tush and the pert breasts, but I honestly wouldn’t trade my sex life for either the breasts or the tush. Why? Because my sex life is a love life. Life isn’t romantic, but love is, and underneath it all, isn’t that what we women are really looking for? In spite of the bedhead and the stretch marks, love exists in everyday life, everywhere I look.
And that, my friends, is why I read and write romance.
~Questions for Amy Harmon~
1 - Describe the most daring, adventurous or inspiring thing you ever did.
I was auditioning to be in a choir directed by Gladys Knight. But I was very late for the audition. When I got there, the audition was over, but I could hear a group of people behind a closed door. The microphone was still on in the main room where the auditions had occurred. So I got on the microphone and started singing. Eventually, someone came out and asked me who I was and if they could help me. I told them I really wanted to audition for Ms. Knight. They left and came back a few minutes later and said she would let me sing for her. Bottom line? I got to sing for a legend, and I made it into the choir. True story.
2 - Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to getstarted? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)
I’ve always been a writer, and I wrote my first novel, Running Barefoot, simply because I wanted to prove to myself I could do it. I didn’t know how to get something published, and I was a busy mom teaching school, so I set it aside. Several years later, out of work with a brand new baby (child number four) and mounting medical bills, I knew I had to do something different. I wrote another novel, Slow Dance in Purgatory, and self-published both of them on Amazon. Fifteen months later my fourth novel, A Different Blue, hit the NY Times Bestsellers list, and I’m just trying to process it all. What a crazy, awesome ride it’s been!
3 - Tell us about a book that changed your life.
There are a lot of really awful books in the self-pub world. There’s a lot of terrible writing. I’m sorry, friends, but it’s true. And I didn’t want to wear that label if that label symbolized an inferior quality of book. Then I read and lovedFlat Out Love by Jessica Park, a self-published book, and I realized that being a self-published author didn’t have to mean you weren’t “as good” as the traditionally published authors. It just might mean you weren’t waiting around for the publishing world to discover you. Jessica Park has now been embraced by both worlds and continues to be an inspiration to me and many others. Flat Out Love was definitely a turning point for me. Thank you, Jessica!
~Amy’s Current Reading Recommendations~
**Penny Reid : I met Penny at Book Bash in Orlando in June and devoured Neanderthal Seeks Human. Her books are a cut-above. Truly. http://reidromance.blogspot.com
**Tarryn Fisher : Her books aren’t fuzzy feel-goods. But they are incredibly thought-provoking and well-written. I love to find authors like her in the self-pub world. There is no one out there like Tarryn and Mud Vein rocked my world. http://www.tarrynfisher.com/books/
**Rachel Hollis : I read Party Girl by Rachel Hollis – her debut novel – last Christmas, and I really enjoyed it. It felt very fresh and fun, with a similar feel to books I’ve loved by Sophie Kinsella. Rachel has another book coming out soon and has been recently signed by an Amazon Imprint. www.amazon.com/Party-Girl-Rachel-Hollis
Amy Harmon is a USA Today and New York Times Bestselling author. Amy knew at an early age that writing was something she wanted to do, and she divided her time between writing songs and stories as she grew. Having grown up in the middle of wheat fields without a television, with only her books and her siblings to entertain her, she developed a strong sense of what made a good story. Her books are now being published in several countries, truly a dream come true for a little country girl from Levan, Utah.
Amy Harmon has written five novels - the USA Today Bestsellers, Making Faces and Running Barefoot, as well as Slow Dance in Purgatory, Prom Night in Purgatory, and the New York Times Bestseller, A Different Blue. Her sixth novel, Infinity + One, was released in June, 2014.