Friday, April 1, 2011

What Makes a Great Romance? A Guest Post by Heather Davis

RT's Booklovers Convention is coming to Los Angeles next week! For the next few days, I'll be spotlighting a few authors who will be there. To find out more about what authors will be there please visit the RT website.

At a writing conference many years ago, I heard a romance editor say something that has stuck with me: “When it comes to crafting a great romance, remember -- it’s all about the hero.”

This little quote proved to be invaluable. When I set down to write my next YA romance, Never Cry Werewolf, I started with the hero. He turned out to be Austin Bridges, the III, the Heath-Ledger-meets-Orlando-Bloom, son of a werewolf rockstar. And the book turned out to be my first published novel.

My editor at HarperTeen told me that what made her fall in love with that book and want to buy it was two-fold: 1) My hero. 2) My voice. Needless to say, I’ve been starting with the hero ever since.

My second published book, The Clearing, now nominated for RWA’s RITA award for best YA Romance, has a hero you want to fall in love with, too: Henry Briggs, a Matt Damon-esque, farm boy living in the endless summer of 1944. He walked out of a neighbor’s misty field I used to see from the window near my desk and right on to the page. Maybe in writing Henry, I was trying to create the perfect guy for me -- someone I can trust, someone who loves me the way I am, someone who doesn’t give up on love.

As a reader (and writer), I find the hero is important because I want to fall in love right along with the heroine. I want to go head over heels for a complex, strong hero with challenges of his own. I want to watch the heroine grow through the story, and through the relationship with the hero. It *is* about him, and about what he represents.

So, for a great romance, look no further than the hero. He’s inextricable from the success of the story, and we need to be on board with him from the moment he arrives on the scene. After all, he’s going to lead us on journey that reminds us of our capacity to love and be loved and imbues us with hope along the way.

See you at RT!

Heather Davis
The Clearing - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - RITA award nominee
Never Cry Werewolf - HarperTeen
Wherever You Go - Harcourt, November 2011

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