Fiction Vixen is pleased to welcome author Ruthie Knox today.
Coming Out of the Closet as a Romance Novelist
As a teenager, I hid romance novels in my closet. Literally. I had two older brothers, and I didn’t want them to know what I was reading, because if they’d found out, they would have teased me until the end of time, and they just possibly might have located the books and read them aloud at inconvenient moments, perhaps to boys I thought were cute, or highlighted the filthiest passages and written them on poster board and taped them to my locker.
Okay, they probably wouldn’t have done that. But something. They could’ve done something. It didn’t take much to mortify me in those days.
And it wasn’t as if I had just a few romance novels in the closet. After I read my first Silhouette Desire and realized they came out in a steady stream of six per month, I subscribed to get them in the mail. They arrived in a small brown box, the first shipment conveniently accompanied by a green pleather “cover protector,” which did an excellent job of ensuring no one could know I was reading a smutty book. Unless, that is, they happened to find it curious that I’d bothered to wrap the small paperback to which I was devoting my rapt attention in pleather—an act that declared in a whisper-scream, Nothing to see here, folks. Move along, move along.
I was not fool enough to use the pleather cover. No, I rarely took the books out of my room, and I never, ever took them to school with me. You see, I was a critical girl who had critical friends. We listened to The Cure and read Camus. Hell, I named my cat Camus. This was Pretension with a capital P, folks. This was Nine Inch Nails concerts and combat boots and ripped fishnet tights worn under baby-doll dresses with ankh pendants on strips of black rawhide. Romance novels had no place among my peer group. I ought to have scorned them. I scorned everything else. Publicly, I scoffed at the whole notion of romance and refused to talk about sex, ever, to anyone.
But secretly, at home, in my room, I watched Beverly Hills 90210 on a tiny portable black-and-white TV, and I read romance novel after romance novel after romance novel.
They were good for me, really. I was a dateless teenager (see: pretentious and cynical; see also: frighteningly brainy), and romance novels reassured me with the endless repetition of their message: Women who are unexceptional find men who love them for themselves all the time. Obstacles to love are removable. Happily-ever-after is possible. If you have a sharp wit, a good heart, and all the basic female equipment, there’s a guy for you out there somewhere. It’s only a matter of time before he finds you.
Who else was telling me that when I was sixteen, after all? Nobody, that’s who. I didn’t invite the message—I was, in fact, probably the human equivalent of a sign reading DON’T TALK TO ME ABOUT ANYTHING PERSONAL—and had it not been for romance novels, the message may not have found me at all. But it did. And I devoured it.
In college, I had my first kiss, my first boyfriend, my first long-term relationship, and I drifted away from romance before I ever had to tell anyone of my love for it. It wasn’t until I came back to the genre as an adult that I finally came out of the closet and did it properly, publicly. Which is funny, because I was finally reading romance on my Kindle, and everybody says one reason for the spike in sales of digital romance is that e-readers conceal those embarrassing covers. No need to ship green pleather “protectors” anymore! The device itself does the job.
It was, I am not ashamed to admit, the Outlander books that hooked me back in. I read them all one summer, and I had no choice but to tell my husband, Sorry I’m ignoring you, but I am completely, utterly obsessed with these books, to the point that it is difficult for me to talk. The best strategy for you would be to hold all questions and conversation until I’ve finished book eight. Okthxbai. Once I’d admitted it to him—pragmatic, practical, non-fiction-reading, lovable man that he is—it was pretty easy to admit it to the friends in my knitting group, many of whom had similarly nourished an obsession with Jamie and Claire. It was the knitters’ fault that I read the books in the first place, actually.
But I can still remember feeling a bit weak in the knees and damp at the armpits when I mentioned it, casually, one Sunday afternoon at my friend Alison’s house. I’m obsessed with the Outlander books.
You? someone said. I never imagined you were into that sort of thing.
And I said, I am. I am so into that sort of thing.
There. Done. I am not the flinty, rational woman I appear to be. I am a flinty, rational woman with a heart of pure, romantic, cotton-candy dreck, and I am not ashamed.
Such a relief, that was.
And then, a few months later, when I started writing a romance novel on a whim, why not tell the knitters? They already knew my secret. They were surprised and amused and highly, highly entertained, but all in a good way. So I kept them abreast of developments as I finished the novel and began another one, and another one, and another one. I started sharing my manuscripts, sex scenes and all, with strangers. Then with friends. Then with family members. Everyone was nice about it. No one pointed their fingers and laughed at me. And at some point along the way, I ceased to care altogether what anyone thought about my love of romance. That particular worry fell away, cleaved off by . . . my maturation, I guess. My growing confidence as a writer. That, and the comfort of finding a community of like-minded, rational, intelligent women with mushy, drecky hearts, and no shame.
I love romance novels. I write romance novels. I write dirty, filthy, romantic, smutty, drecky, heartfelt books, and I am proud.
In this fun, scorching-hot eBook original romance by Ruthie Knox, a cross-country bike adventure takes a detour into unexplored passion. As readers will discover, Ride with Me is not about the bike! When Lexie Marshall places an ad for a cycling companion, she hopes to find someone friendly and fun to cross the TransAmerica Trail with. Instead, she gets Tom Geiger — a lean, sexy loner whose bad attitude threatens to spoil the adventure she’s spent years planning. Roped into the cycling equivalent of a blind date by his sister, Tom doesn’t want to ride with a chatty, go-by-the-map kind of woman, and he certainly doesn’t want to want her. Too bad the sight of Lexie with a bike between her thighs really turns his crank. Even Tom’s stubborn determination to keep Lexie at a distance can’t stop a kiss from leading to endless nights of hotter-than-hot sex. But when the wild ride ends, where will they go next?
In this fun, scorching-hot eBook original romance by Ruthie Knox, a cross-country bike adventure takes a detour into unexplored passion. As readers will discover, Ride with Me is not about the bike!
When Lexie Marshall places an ad for a cycling companion, she hopes to find someone friendly and fun to cross the TransAmerica Trail with. Instead, she gets Tom Geiger — a lean, sexy loner whose bad attitude threatens to spoil the adventure she’s spent years planning.
Roped into the cycling equivalent of a blind date by his sister, Tom doesn’t want to ride with a chatty, go-by-the-map kind of woman, and he certainly doesn’t want to want her. Too bad the sight of Lexie with a bike between her thighs really turns his crank.
Even Tom’s stubborn determination to keep Lexie at a distance can’t stop a kiss from leading to endless nights of hotter-than-hot sex. But when the wild ride ends, where will they go next?
How about you — have you come out of the closet as a romance reader? When, and how? Share your coming-out story!
One lucky commenter will be randomly chosen to win a digital copy of Ride with Me. Just answer the question above for entry. Winners will pick up their copy through Net Galley. Good luck to all!
Open to: US and international entries. You have until end day February 16 to enter, winner will be announced soon after.
Giveaway sponsored by: Random House