Writing Child Characters into Romance Novels
The plotline of the first romance novel I ever read is hazy now. What I do remember is its opening scene, and the riveting ‘show don’t tell’ way that the author laid out the tense but loving relationship between the male protagonist and his angsty teenage daughter. The first setting is his bedroom. He’s getting ready to go to a ball. His daughter is challenging his authority, yet her need for love and reassurance is coming through loud and clear. What is also coming through is her father’s growing fear that he has little clue how to parent her through her coming teenage years.
As I read that scene I made a vow that if children ever featured in my books they would not be mere accessories to the main characters. They would be central to their parents’ existence, just as that anxiety-ridden teenager had been central to her father’s. Four of my five published novels would eventually feature children. They span all ages and personality types, but they share the basic need of all children to feel loved and secure. And each of them will demand this from their parents in ways that will change all of their lives.
In Making Ends Meet, it’s Harry’s seven-year-old daughter, Rosie, who takes matters into her own hands to help her father move on from his no-future marriage with her mother.
In Adam’s Boys too, I was extra-challenged with the ‘show-don’t-tell’ imperative in fiction writing. The reason for this was that Abbie’s son, Henry, is only three and unable to articulate his needs, namely having his father front and centre in his life. Nevertheless, Henry will finally let his mother know in no uncertain terms that she can never again make him choose between her and his new-found father, Adam.
Finally (and I can’t say too much because of spoilers) in my latest release, Copping It Sweet, it takes two teenage boys to finally lay down the gauntlet to my female lead, Sara, to face her long-held fear of her violent husband.
Copping It Sweet is a story about the insidious nature of intimidation and control. But as with all of my novels featuring children, it is also about the power of children’s unconditional love and trust to inspire and strengthen us to look for hope where we least expect it.