Jean Marie Stine from Sizzler Editions.com asked me if I would mind writing a guest blog for Sizzler about why I write the way that I do. It was suggested to me by a dear friend that I should post it here on my site as well, so here it is~
Melissa Harlow, why did you write that?
It’s a story, there is sex in it. No, it’s not mindless, continuous sex and it isn’t flowery, soft, romance. You might like it, you might not, but it is always, first, and foremost, a story.
I wrote my first one at the age of forty, after a lifetime of -I should… I can… but I just don’t have the time. One day I just sat down and started to write. It became everything, my hobby, my passion, and now it is my job. It is a job that really is more a privilege.I currently have seven published books, and I still squeal and jump up and down when a new work of mine is accepted. I cry when I get good reviews (and the occasional bad one- but it’s not the same kind of crying, believe me.)
I always wanted to write, and erotic romance seemed like it would be the easiest way to get started. After reading a few popular books I was a little surprised because I didn’t think they were very good. Not because they were poorly written, but because I couldn’t identify with the people I was reading about.
The characters in my books are just people. Real people, who have made mistakes, with problems, or who are just generally fed up with their day to day lives. Would I write a book about a millionaire with a plane? No, not because I couldn’t, but because I can’t identify with someone like that. I write erotic fiction, but I write real people, the waitress who is sick of her job and her life, the ex-convict, who knows he’s always done the wrong things-but can’t figure out how he can be any other way, the shy over-weight girl who always got made fun of. .. To me these people are very real, and I have known many like them. In my mind the more alive my characters become, the better my stories are.
I write my characters the way I do because I feel that at some point in everyone’s life they have encountered a situation where someone has judged them for one reason or another. There are a great many people who can’t see past the exterior of something, or someone. People tend to get lumped into classes and terms based on their appearance or what they do. Beyond what we are, or how others see us, there is always more. I am a writer, but that’s not all I am.
I read an article once about a homeless man who died. He was a decorated Vietnam War veteran. He had done heroic things, and saved many of his fellow soldiers, and he died alone beside a dumpster. How many people looked at him each day and wrinkled up their noses in disgust? They didn’t look at him and see a hero- they saw a nobody- if they even saw him at all.
I enjoy writing a character, that at first, you might not think is a good person, you may not think this person has anything heroic inside of them. As the reader, you get to do something that in real life none of us get to do, you get to see inside of each person. Past the scars of drug addiction, or the man holding the gun, or even the homeless man by the dumpster, you get to see what they are truly like inside. Everyone has made mistakes, and as much as we all hate to admit it, none of us are perfect. In my books people who’ve never had anything really great happen to them in their lives get that shining moment of glory, people who have been dragging around guilt finally find a little peace- oh, and there’s sex, lots of sex, I guess I should mention that.
In this genre I see the various trends, and they come and they go. I’m not trendy, I like to try new things and explore different ideas, but I can’t bring myself to write a book just because it is the current popular theme. Sorry, but you won’t see me doing vampires or werewolves.
I will admit that I find it difficult to deal with rules. I’ve tried writing stories for a specific market or publisher, knowing that this or that has to be toned down, or I can’t write certain things, and then all of the sudden the story takes a life of it’s own and ends up breaking the rules or guidelines I have had set in front of me. In that respect I have found Sizzler to be a good fit for me. No, truthfully, my stories may be a bit tame for some Sizzler readers, but it’s nice not to have to worry about someone coming along and hacking out huge chunks of your manuscript because you wrote about a screwdriver handle. (Pick up a copy of my book “Stolen Property” and you’ll see what I’m talking about.)
There’s more to writing a good book than just typing words at the keyboard. It’s not about word count, or great sex scenes, or even good plot ideas. I have to feel something to write it. I’ve found that if I don’t, the story just isn’t any good. If I don’t cry when I write it, no one is going to cry when they read it. I invest a lot of emotions in my writing. Oh, and did I mention there’s sex?
Thank you for taking the time to read a little about why I do what I do. If you like my work I sincerely appreciate it, and if you don’t then just ignore me, either way I will continue to do it. Get used to me, I’m going to stick around for a while.