Hi, Patrick, thanks for stopping by today. Tell me a little about yourself in a few sentences. What do you do for a living, and other than reading, what do you do for fun?
I’m 43, been married for 23 years, and have 2 adopted kids, an 8yr old boy, and a 19 year old girl. I was kicked out of college, spent 4 years in the USMC, went back to school and studied to be an actuary, and have been a computer consultant specializing in web based applications for a bit more than 15 years. Part of my time I spend teaching 4-5 day classes for large companies around the world (mostly in the US), and part of my time I consult for various organizations. I also have a business with a friend specializing in SharePoint customization.
My life’s a bit strange because it has two main compartments. About 180 days a year I live on the road (hello from Chicago), sleeping in hotels and eating every meal out. In that compartment I fill my free time reading (2 or 3 books a week) and writing. When I’m at home, I live in quiet southern Mississippi with my family, horses, dogs, and cat. When not working on some project I watch movies, sail, ride, and in general have more hobbies than I have time, ha. My wife also homeschools so I sometimes help with that.
How and when did you pick up your first romance? Was it in a sub genre (as in paranormal, thriller, contemporary etc.)?
It was fricking Nora Robert’s fault! Three or four years ago, I had to drive to an event because my flight had just been canceled. I was going to be stuck in a car for 12+ hours, so I headed to Cracker Barrel, because I knew they rented books on tape. I had to get moving so I grabbed a couple of mysteries that sounded interesting and hit the road. One of Books on CD I checked out was by this author I knew I’d heard of but never read, Nora Roberts. Her book was good! So when I got to D.C., I hit the B&N so I could buy the next book in the series (don’t remember which one exactly).
There I was, 6’3”, 250lbs, with my Stetson on. I checked literature, I checked mysteries, I could find hide nor hair…so I asked at the service counter. This perky little thing said, “Nora Roberts!” like I was an idiot, “She’s over in romance. Here, let me show you.”
I choked, literally. I was so embarrassed. I bet my cheeks were flame red. I pulled at my tie and tried to think of a way out, but ended up following dutifully. She pointed out the Nora Roberts section, tossed her ponytail at me, and left me there by myself. Oh my God. The section of the bookstore I had always dutifully avoided, as any red blooded straight male should, and it was as bad as I thought. There were covers with sweaty men, covers with women just busting out of Victorian dresses, covers with both together. I’m not sure if it was the looks I was giving or sounds I was making, but ever female in the section cleared out in the first 30 seconds I was there. But I sucked it up. I’m a Marine for Christ sake, I could do this! I figured as long as I was there, I may as well get the next Nora and something else. I could do it. Then I saw a book with a hot chick on the cover with a sword, and hey, that wasn’t really so bad. So I grabbed some kind of PNR, and got the hell out of dodge!
The rest is history. I still read a bit of everything, but I lean heavily towards the PNR, UF, F/SF world.
Why does reading romance “click” for you? Conversely, do you find room for improvement in the genre in general (or any sub genre in specific)?l,
Well, I think all men enjoy romance, down deep, I mean who doesn’t, right? The problem is that as men, we are conditioned from the playground days up to believe that there are some things that are girl-only (tampons, giving birth, reading romances, like that). Once that conditioning is set, there’s an automatic, knee jerk reaction that men have to romance novels. I mean, I spent 10 years in all boys catholic schools, 4 years in the USMC, and have 3 younger brothers… I know what I’m talking about here. When I went into that romance section after a fricking Nora Roberts book, there was a lot of brainwashed pressure that said as a man, I had no business being there. If I hadn’t been on a trip where the possibility of me running into someone I knew was zilch, I think I would have probably fled to grab a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue or something.
I ultimately figured that as long as I was there, and since I’ve never been adverse to trying things once, I’d give it a shot.
What I like about romance is its ability to add another dimension to a story. It’s kind of like food, right? My family has a spice store (family owned and operated since 1870) and it never ceases to amaze me how you can take something ordinary, out of a can say, and with the right spices, turn it into an amazingly nuanced dish. Same thing with romance. If you take a basic story arc that’s been done a million times before, and throw in a few special scenes, characters, and a good romance, you end up with something interesting that has both intellectual and emotional appeal. Pair a good story, with good characters, a good plot, AND a good romance? Come on! Can it get any better than that?
Ultimately, I think to turn a blind eye to a book simply because of its genre, or subject matter, or cover, is the ultimate form snobbery… a literary cutting off of ones nose to spite ones face.
Room for improvement? Well, I don’t think the Romance genre markets itself to men at all and if authors want to eat into that group of possible readers, they are going to have to rethink both the way they approach men, and the subject matters they use when they do. I do think e-readers will help, greatly. With a reader, who knows what you’re reading. I mean there’s a big difference between me reading something on my iPad, and me holding:
in my hands, you know?
Who are your favorite romance authors? Non-romance authors? Can you give a percentage (just a rough off-the-top-of-your-head guess) about how much you read of each?
Well, if you like, you can see what I’ve read recently here:
I mostly lean towards PNR and UF (two sides of the same coin in my book) so I’d probably say (forgive the spelling!) Lara Adrian, Chloe Neile, Nalini Singh, Sunny, Laurell K. Hamilton, Molly Harper, Kelly Armstrong, Karen Chance, Jeaniene Frost, Elileen Wilks, Meljean Brook, Patricia Briggs, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Karen Moning, and the like.
In the non-romance: Stephen King, Jim Butcher, Peter F. Hamilton, Dickens, Hammett, Philip K. Dick, Preston & Child…
Really, I’ll read just about anything. Currently, I probably read 90% PNR and UF, and the other 10% could be anything. This year I’m also doing a 12×12 reading challenge, and one of my categories is “Romance novels that scare me” which I’m going to use to expand my romance reading to more classic works, I’m even going to throw in a regency *shivers*.
If you could make a wish-list of a story you would like to read but haven’t yet, what would it be?
Oh gosh, I have no idea. I like action and romance and a good plot. I like the romance to support the plot, not necessarily be the plot (though that’s nice sometimes too). So, I’m not sure what to put here 🙂
Since I’m approaching this as a conversation, would you like to ask me something in return?
🙂 How do you like keeping up with your blog? I’ve never done one, but I’ve thought about it. I even registered www.RomanceReadingMan.com and www.RomanceReviewingMan.com, but I’ve yet to use them. I also got RomanceWritingMan, ha, but that one’s farther off. I tend to write more what I guess I’d call Fantasy with heavy romantic elements, but we’ll see. I’m on my third book and will wait and see if I think this one is good enough to try and publish.
I’ve never read any of your books, but I will. I just added Dragon Bound to my TBR 🙂
I did notice that you only are putting some of your books up on your site, why don’t you include those from some of your other pseudonyms? Just curious.
ME: I hope you enjoy Dragon Bound! I had so much fun writing that story. And I’m very new to having a blog. I’m a little worried about it. If you neglect feeding your blog, I suppose it turns yellow and floats to the top of the fish tank?
My back list of romances have been out of print but I look forward to including them on my website soon, especially now that my agent and I have gotten the digital reverted back to me!
Back to you: is there anything you would like to add?
Unfortunately, I think reading Romance for a man is a bit like listening to opera. I started going to the opera when I was 6 and was never taught to lump it into the “Should never be listened to” pile. That was the days before super/subscript English translations to everything sung, so I have these great memories of being the youngest person there, and my Dad reading me the synopsis of each act before we heard it. But when I play opera for my class say (always play break music!), many students will comment that they’ve never listened to opera. Some make faces and hope the song ends fast. I can guarantee you that most people’s aversion to opera is pure learned behavior. If you take the right piece, stop and listen, and open yourself enough feel the music, then you can’t help but like it. (not always true, but still).
For a man, the same thing’s true when reading a romance heavy story. If you can let that learned prejudice go, and open your emotions and mind up enough so that you become that man in the story, and this story is happening to you, and she’s the love of your life. Come on, does it get any better? Isn’t love what all humans crave above all else?
Enjoyed it. Take care.
I very much enjoyed the visit too, Patrick. Thank you!