My First Romance
I read my first historical romance novel at the age of 13, SHANNA by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, and from then on, I was hooked. I compared all my teenaged suitors to the dashing, steadfast Ruark Beauchamp. Too bad for them. No one could seem to live up to those standards.
Years later, inspired by Ms. Woodiwiss's works, as well as those by Johanna Lindsey and other greats who transformed the genre in the late 70s and early 80s, I started to write my own historical romance novels. And too bad for me, because my own writing could never seem to live up to their standards.
A few years ago, just before I was published, I had the honor of meeting Ms. Woodiwiss at a writing conference in New Jersey. I'm embarrassed to say, I cried. I blubbered to her that she was my inspiration, and yada yada yada. She was very sweet and gracious, and I must say, really embarrassed by my display. But she murmured some encouraging words and gave me a tissue, and it was one of my great writing-related moments.
Afterwards, I wished I would have said something else. Instead of telling her she inspired me to write, I should have told her how many hours of pleasure she'd given me as a reader--a gift I now know, as a writer, is no easy thing to give.
I learned yesterday that Ms. Woodiwiss passed away on July 6th. It was a sad day for romance, indeed.
I hope she is mentioned in tribute at the RWA National conference this week in Dallas, TX. I can't be there in body, but I will be there in spirit, and my guess is that Ms. Woodiwiss will be, too.
Because you simply can't have a gathering of romance writers without her.