A local college girl tore off her hairnet and began playing the heartstrings of one man, and eventually she won the hearts of millions of romance fiction fans. Jill Monroe met her future husband while she was serving food at the University of Oklahoma cafeteria during her sophomore year. "I was wearing a hairnet, and he asked me out anyway!” Monroe said. The way she met the love of her life deepened her fascination with how people fall in love. So, romance novels were an easy choice when it came time to stop talking about writing a book and to start writing, she said. Here’s some of what she had to say about romance writing: Q: What was your first romance novel, and when was it published? A: My first novel was "Never Naughty Enough,” and it came out in December 2004, hence the "Naughty” in the title. Q: How many romance novels have you written? A: Well, I’ve probably written 12. But ... the first three are so bad, they should be tossed. My kids will find where I’ve tucked them after I’m gone and wonder, "What was mom thinking?” I have five in bookstores now, with a novella coming out this summer. My next book comes out in November, and I’ve contracted to write two more. Q: How do you come up with the steamier parts of a novel? A: The steamier stuff comes naturally from the characters. It’s as (much a) part of the story as the plot or the setting. Some books are steamier than others. Q: Why do you think romance novels are so popular? A: I think they are empowering to women and affirming. I know this might be surprising to people who aren’t familiar with the genre, but the Harlequins I read growing up told me that, as a woman, I could do and be anything I wanted. The characters traveled all over the world and had fascinating careers like architecture and archaeology. They worked to put themselves through school because it was important. The heroines deal with their problems, they walk away from abusive relationships, battle breast cancer — you name an issue particularly important to women, it’s probably been explored between the covers of a romance novel. Q: What do you like to read? A: Other than romance, I find myself reading a lot of nonfiction as research. My oldest daughter wanted to read the "Twilight” series by Stephenie Meyer, so I picked it up to read before I handed it over. I was just going to give it a quick scan but immediately became hooked. Now, I’m reading a lot of young-adult fiction such as P.C. and Kristin Cast’s "Marked.” Q: What does your husband think about your romance writing? A: He loves it. He’s read all my books and is my biggest supporter.
Did you know?→The romance novel genre contains nine subgenres ranging from contemporary series to inspirational to paranormal. →For those who read books in 2007, one in five read romance novels. →At 25.7 percent, contemporary series romance accounted for the largest percentage of romance releases in 2007. →Publishers released about 8,090 romance books in 2007. →Expected net revenue for romance fiction in 2008 is $1.34 billion. →Romance Writers of America, based in Houston, supports the interests of more than 10,000 members. Oklahoma chapters are the Oklahoma City-based OK-Romance Writers of America and Tulsa-based Romance Writers Ink. SOURCE: Statistics compiled by Romance Writers of America