Beyond the Romance: Kids

Why in the world would someone of basic wisdom include children in a romance novel?

Let me take a second to look at my life, which has had a romantic element with the same person for the last 34 years. Huh. Children have been a part of it for over 27 of those 34+ years. (Also, stop with the math. I’m old. I know.)

The point: kids can factor in. And it can still be romantic.

Why? Because romance isn’t life, it’s a part of it. And for some of those who fall in love, children are a part of it. And because I write real-life romance. Children can be a part of real life.

Which, interestingly enough, is also why a good number of people don’t want the little rugrats in their romance novels. “I deal with the trials of parenthood all stinking day; I don’t want it where I go to escape my day-to-day life.” Fair enough. I’ll let you in on a secret: I don’t typically read romance novels with kids in them either.

But, writing kids? That I love to do. I love to explore kids’ behavior and adults’ responses to those behaviors. I love to pick the brains of smart kids and kids, like Adrian in Beneath the Stars, who have experienced a life-altering event. They see the world differently, many of them. There is a depth to their insight, an honesty to their emotions, and sometimes, a chaos in balancing it all to society’s tough standards.

And that’s what Adrian brings to the table. He’s wise. He’s silly. He’s temperamental and creative. Because the foundation his mother provided him before her death, he trusts quickly and shares generously. I’ve had a few comments before and since Beneath the Stars’ release–a five-year-old wouldn’t ever say…

Yeah. They would. They do. I had a four year old son, who upon breaking his big toe, greeted the doctor with, “I broke my metatarsal!” I had never used that word in my life. I have no idea where he learned it or how he knew that was, indeed, the bone he’d broken. I can’t tell you how many doctor appointments ended with our family physician saying, “Good luck,” in reference to my childrens’ ridiculous vocabulary. Certainly they’d say…

And so, I wrote Adrian. In addition to drawing and soccer and missing his mom, he knows his dinosaurs. We visited the Field Museum in Chicago last month. The entire time we viewed the dinosaurs, I imagined Adrian’s running commentary. Then, while standing at the stegosaurus display, a little boy, at the most five years of age, approached with his father. Dad got a lesson on the stegosaurus: his full name, the era he existed, his diet, on and on. He wasn’t reading the placard; he knew this information like he knew his own name. He pronounced the multi-syllabic words properly, coherently. He took dad to the next and to the next and taught his dad some serious Mesozoic lessons.

I’d imagine Adrian isn’t great at math, and I have a hunch he’d struggle with friends along the way. He’s been the center of adults’ worlds for most of his life. But, he’s a kid whose story deserved to be told. I always side-eye the statement, especially when beginning to note a book with kids in it, “I hate kids.” Hopefully anyone reading here knows it’s not appropriate to say (or think), “I hate ____ [insert any ethnicity, race, body-type, age, gender, religion].”

Why is it okay to hate kids? Why is it okay to determine for them what they are capable of (within reason)? They’re human. They’re people. From time to time, they belong in our stories.

I’ll be in Atlanta next week for the Romantic Times Convention. If you’re in the area, come see me at the book fair on Saturday, May 6 at Hyatt Regency Atlanta from 11 – 2. I’ll be at the end of row 3.

Also, take a pit stop in the RT Bazaar where you can enter to win a Beneath the Stars gift basket full of goodies–including a BTS sketch pad to connect with your inner child and create some of your own visual therapy like Adrian. I’ve included more fun things for grown-ups too. If you can’t make it to Atlanta, I’ll be holding a giveaway of a similar basket upon my return. Keep your eyes peeled here, on facebook and twitter.

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