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I Missed the Ship to Historical Romanceville

Oh, dear! I think my
good intentions
were on that ship!
Let me set the scene for you:

There's fog. Lots of fog rolling off the ocean. The only light spills from a gas-fueled street lamp on a pier. I'm standing there, hand shielding my eyes as I stare into the gloom, traveling valise at my Steeple Victorian boots in antique saddle, my side pinching from the stitch caused by my constraining corset. The wind is blowing, which does nothing to relieve the pea-soup thick fog, catching my skirt and blowing the lace jabot into my face.

"Wait!" I call, waving a hand-embroidered hankie at the dim lights of the steam ship sailing off to Historical Romanceville. "Oh my stars and garters!" I hiss in frustration, shaking my head. And my steamer trunk was on there too!

Gentlemen in bowler hats and silk three-piece suits tuck their wives' elbows closer and hurry around me. My hair, so neatly secured in an elegant roll earlier, is starting to collapse thanks to the dampness in the air. Well. The ship's sailed and that's that. 

Okay, what am I rambling about today? Sorry for the plug about the boots in antique saddle. I wanted to be very specific because I like a good pair of sensible brown shoes. Who doesn't, right? Ahem, back to the point. Many, many moons ago when I was but a wee lass of thirteen I did something stupid and broke my arm during summer vacation. Freak accident, if you will. Shot from the womb with a mad desire to read, I started reading romance novels at a young age. Well, okay, about a year before I broke my arm. The library was my best friend. The circulation clerks at the library probably rolled their eyes every time they saw me come in. Which, not having a driver's license, was not nearly as frequently as I would've liked. I could devour ten novels in a week. Let's go back to the broken appendage. It was summer, my mom could drive, but didn't very often and my dad worked days. Knowing what a klutz I am, they forbade me to go very far from the house. I used to climb all over our hill, so this was a bummer. Not one to watch a lot of TV, I read constantly. The book pile dwindled and I was left eyeballing a stack of my dad's Louis L'Amour novels. Which, after a long debate with myself about how I didn't want to read westerns, I proceeded to devour them, just like the romance novels. 

There's something about primitive, lawlessness that I can totally relate to. Perhaps it's the romantic notions movies and books instilled in my brain that savagery is noble in its own way. That America was built on the sweaty brows of our fore bearers, who were the strong silent type of people filled with passionate love. 

Thus my love of westerns was born. And even ol' Louis wasn't abject to a good love story. Fast forward to that black blanket of despair where I didn't write for five years. The last thing I wrote was a historical romance. I'll be honest. It's not fit to wipe your butt with. You'd get a rash and try explaining to your doctor why you have a rash from... um, never mind. When I jumped back on the writing horse, I decided I wanted to write another historical romance. So I did. And then I wrote another, which I didn't finish, but that's not the point. Then I did something bizarre and so like me that it's a wonder it hasn't crashed and burned, because I am notorious for doing weird things and then moving on to the next weird thing in a blur.

Look away! Her knees are exposed!
I wrote a steampunk romance novel. About two people who are polar opposites (or so they believe at first), trying to find a magical jewel to save the lives of those near and dear to them. And I loved every second of it, effectively ruining my taste for historical facts as I pounded out words that created a new world full of airships and electromagnetic coil guns. Yes, they can figure out electromagnetics, but not electricity. And your point is...?

I did write another western-esque novella after the steampunk one. Except I decided to make it a romance/horror story and used some nasty creatures called boo hags to spice it up. They only tried to kill the heroine two or three times. That is as close to traditional historical romance as I've gotten in two years. I missed the boat. But I found a ride on a dirigible and I haven't looked back. 

A loss for the historical romance world? Maybe. A gain for the steampunk romance genre? Eh, who knows? But I'm happy with my chosen genre. It's silly and adventurous in a way that's not possible in historical romance. And as long as I'm happy, you're happy because if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy! So, how did you pick your genre? What elements call to you? Or is it the characters who make the genre ultimately? 


  1. Another great post! How did I pick my genre? I like boy meets girl, girl hates boy, boy woos girl until girl can't live without boy. Contemporially (?) speaking. I'm too lazy to do research for a historical romance. Toying with the idea of a western romance for NaNo this year though. Probably a little research needed there.
    Wanda Fittro

  2. I love boy meets girl and girl hates boy only to be wooed by boy until it's true love. Way better than the other way around! I have no idea what I'm toying with for NaNo. I'm terrified to even think about it!

  3. Excellent post--even your blog writer's voice is awesome, hehehehe.
    I think you picked a great genre, Allison, one that fits with you and you fit with it--PERFECTLY!
    How I picked my genre...hmmm, well, let me tell you a little story about myself....LOL, I saw you roll your eyes!!!!
    Anywho, like you, I loved reading. My first romance novel was a Harlequin I borrowed from my mom. It was good and I was hooked. Slowly, as I got older, I started reading "racier" romances. Johanna Lindsey's A Pirate's Love stole my heart. I devoured every romance in every genre. Then years later, my mom--we use to exchange novels--gave me this romance book--can't remember the title--and it was about a VAMPIRE!!!! I was shocked and in love! After that, paranormal romances became bigger and better and my favorites.

  4. I love pirate romances! I used to hate them because I thought being stranded on a ship and soaking wet all the time wouldn't be fun, but I fell in love with them after Pirates of the Caribbean and going to the Caribbean myself.
    I especially love The Care & Feeding of Pirates by Jennifer Ashley.

    I started on vampires when I was in high school. Anne Rice totally pulled me in. I think it scared my folks a little bit!

  5. Loved Anne Rice in HS. Used to stay up all night reading, then sleep in history class ;)

    Part of the reason I write (one of many reason) They have a big wanted dead or alive poster with my face at the library. I love reading, it's the returning on time part I was never good at.

  6. Haha, I can just see that wanted poster and all the librarians giving you the stink eye when you come in. They're a tough breed of people.

  7. I love steam punk! I love that you found it the way that you did.

    I write middle grade. Maybe because my kids are that age, or because I work with kids that age, or because I've been reading MG books to my kids every night for a whole lot of years. Whatever it was, I LOVE MY GENRE.


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