Friday, November 13, 2009

The Romance Gene - Helen Bianchin

Is there such a thing? What is it that gifts some and not others with ... what shall we call it ... the sight to write romantic fiction? That special ability that drives the need to put pen to paper - or fingers to keyboard - and transfer the vivid images in our head into words. Words we'll edit, change, delete countless times until the words read right. And that's before an editor has her say.

As a young child I often lived in a world of my own imagination. Relatives tagged me as a dreamer, quiet, introspective, with a love of books. There was never any doubt about what I'd prefer as a birthday gift. My mother was an avid reader of romance. My paternal grandmother adored historical romance, and had every one of Georgette Heyer's titles in her collection.

It was my paternal grandmother, widowed for many years, who helped raise me from age 11 to 15, while my parents operated a seven day a week business. Born in Swansea, Wales, a schoolteacher before marriage, every evening after dinner I would beg her to tell me a story. She really was the best storyteller, tales from real life as well as fiction. One real life story I particularly recall was about her sister, married to a Frenchman who was a member of the French Resistance during World War II. Exciting tales which stirred my imagination. Had my grandmother ever thought to consign these tales to paper? Or attempt to write her first love - historical romance? I knew she kept a journal.

My maternal grandmother was a Kelly from Tullamore, Ireland. She also loved to read ... meaty romantic sagas, and she had the gift of the Irish to tell wonderful stories. Had she ever thought to write them down, combining fact with fiction? Not that I knew of.

Did these three women influence me to write? Had I inherited some of their storytelling ability, sufficient to instill the determination to transfer the stories in my head into words on paper?
Or was it the gift of a vivid imagination that gained strength with each succeeding generation to tag me as the one who would persist, pen a romance and send it to a publisher?

What do you think? How many of you who write (published or unpublished) have pondered why you write, what drives you, and who, if anyone, has influenced you to want to write.

I'd love to hear your views and comments ...

Regards to all,


Linda Henderson said...

I'm not a writer so I can't speak to that issue. But as far as being an avid reader, I'm not sure how I ended up being such a dedicated reader. My parents did not read. I've never seen my mother read a book. The only thing I can think of is the fact that my childhood was so dysfunctional that I found my release in books. I could live in a world where people had happy families, had friends and went on adventures. As I grew up I still kept my thirst for reading. Romance books that I kept reading through two failed marriages. Even though my marriages didn't work out I still believe in love and I love reading those stories and experiencing their happily ever afters. I can travel around the world and see things I never will see in person through books. I guess you could say I am an armchair traveler. I do so love your books and they are on my keeper shelves to read over and over again. I always look forward to your next story.

Mary said...

I only write articles, but most are how to care for small animals. I think it's mostly my life that influenced my writing because I've seen people who have small animals and have no idea how to take care of them.

Sandie Hudson said...

Helen, what an interesting topic, and yes I have often wondered what lead me to writing romance novels. My Mum, loved to read romance novels or True Romance magazines when I was younger, but as our family grew her time to sit and read dwindled. So maybe my love of reading romance novels came from Mum. As for my writing? I think I would look at my Dad, while he enjoyed nothing better than a good thriller or mystery novel to read, he wrote the most wonderful poems for my Mum. He was a true romantic and new the first time he met my Mum that they would marry.


Mary Anne Landers said...

Helen Bianchin: Thank you for your thought-provoking article.

I believe there are plenty of reasons why I write. I am aware of only some of them.

But of those I know about, I believe the most important is this: I write to make real, at least in my own mind and those of my readers, that which in the actual world does not exist, but should; and that which in the realm of fiction is too scarce and hard to find, assuming it exists at all.

Helen Bianchin said...

Hi Linda,
Armchair travel is wonderful - no long haul flights or jetlag. Lovely to relax and visit various countries around the world via an author's vivid description. Experience the sights, share the ambience and
enjoy the a hero and heroine's romantic journey.
Thank you so much for your kind words about my books. I hope you continue to find pleasure in reading them.
All the best,

Helen Bianchin said...

Hi Mary,
Your articles on caring for small animals sound fascinating.
I have two Birman cats, a seal point and a choc point. They're gorgeous,affectionate and smart.
They make wonderful companions.

All the best

Helen Bianchin said...

Hi Sandie,
Your dad sounds a true romantic, and I love that he wrote wonderful poems for your mum. That he knew the first time he met your mum that he would marry her touches the heart.
All the best with your writing,

Helen Bianchin said...

Hi Mary Anne,
Writing is a fascinating topic, for to create a moment in time, penning characters who live for the readers requires work. Hard work. Regardless of genre. I think the author succeeds when the author manages to entrance the reader from first to final page.
All the best with your writing,

Mary said...

Helen, The cats sounds wonderful. I think animals make us all happier.

Lucy Monroe said...

Hi, Helen...very interesting post. I'm sure our family do influence us. While my mother never read romance, both my grandmothers did and my oldest sister (who I pilfered my first M&Bs from). My mother read other books though, by the truckload and she passed that love of reading onto four of her six children. I write because the stories in my head insist on being told. I write for publication because I am too driven to make such an undertaking a hobby. I write because there is no other job in the world as pleasurable and challenging. But what made me want to write? I think it may well be gentic. My mother wrote three novels when I was younger. One was accepted for publication, but when the editors wanted revisions, she burnt. No joke. She's very much the artiste. :) I think there is an artistic gene, I really do. And I think it shows itself in many ways, writing being the one I adore the most.

Hugs and blessings from a hugely devoted fan,
Lucy :)

heidi87 said...

I have always loved to create stories in my head. Each night to go to sleep I would work on my story. It always help to relax me to fall a sleep. then the next night i would pick up where i stopped and go from there. then I decided I needed to write them down. Thats how I got started writing. Plus I come from a weird family and the only way I could get away from them was to dream my story .

Helen Bianchin said...

Hi Lucy! How lovely to see you here. Reading is one of my favourite pastimes. Currently I have two piles of to-be-read books waiting for my attention ... so incredibly tempting when the current deadline has priority. The love of reading is outshone by the love of writing, isn't it? The cast of characters we carry in our head, demanding their story be told. It's an amazing talent, and so interesting to explore its origin.
Hugs in admiration,
Helen :)

Helen Bianchin said...

Hi Heidi,
Creating stories in your head whilst on the edge of sleep is truly magical. The day has been dealt with, a new day has yet to dawn ... the mind relaxes and the characters, their story, appear. The trick is to have a pen and notepad on hand to write down the words in order to recapture the entire scene when you wake. Relying on memory alone doesn't always work!
All the best with your writing,

kim h said...

any winner from karen anders blog

Annie West said...


What a thoughtful post. I'm sure we're influenced by our families more than we expect, even if we seem like cuckoos in the next when it comes to our delight in romances. I know there was a female author in the family way back but I don't know her name. It would be nice to think there was a link there. But of course there's a very strong link in that all my family loves to read. What a better way to start a budding writer than to give her lots of great stories as a child!


Helen Bianchin said...

Hi Annie! How lovely of you to drop by. I agree, I do think a love of books during childhood stimulates the imagination, and often leads to the creation of stories. Some remain in the mind, others get written down ... whether merely for the writer's pleasure, or with a view to publication.
Hugs, and all the best

Helen Bianchin said...

My sincere thanks to Lee for the invitation to blog, and my appreciation to you all for contributing your comments and views.
It's been fun!

Regards to all