Romance Books Inspire!

By Casey Dawes, author of California Sunset and California Wine

California WineI’ve been inspired by books all my life, and not simply the non-fiction books designed to do that. Romance has inspired me along the way to learn new things, travel and change my perspective.

Most of the time the inspiration is on a small scale. Debbie Macomber’s Blossom Street series was one of my inspirations to take up knitting again. Even now, every time I read a book with knitting as a theme, I want to get my hands in that soft wool. Maggie Sefton’s cozy mysteries (with some romance thrown in) have inspired me to learn about the animals who produce the wool, like alpacas and the process to develop yarn. In fact, I’m now the proud owner of an alpaca fleece. (Not that I know what to do with it!)

I think everyone gets seduced by books with recipes, even if we don’t make them. After writing my latest book, California Wine, I’ve been intrigued to learn how to make ravioli, although I confess I haven’t made the plunge yet.

Jane Porter inspired me to lust after cowboy boots and a body that would look good in cut-off jeans and a tee-shirt with her book She’s Gone Country. This is always a good book to reread when I really want that second helping. Oh, and my son and his girlfriend gifted me with cowboy boots this year–great kids!

And, of course there’s always vicarious travel. Books with backgrounds in small town USA are fun to read. I love reading books about places I haven’t spent much time in–the South and Southwest come to mind.

Writers are human and we have opinions. When we’re on our best behavior, we slip our views in subtly. If we’re being too obstinate, our viewpoints could cause our readers to stop reading. Not a good thing!

But when a writer slips in a phrase that makes me think about something in a new way, I’m grateful. With historical novels, it can be a grand sweep of history. Currently I’m reading a novel by Susan Wiggs set in Ireland in the Cromwell period (The Mist and the Magic). I knew it was bad, but I’m gaining a new perspective on how bad it was.

Ancients knew that telling stories was the best way to make a point. In the New Testament, Jesus uses stories to bring changes to his culture. Through romance I’ve learned new ways to look at myself, relationships and many of the moral issues of our day.

Novels of all stripes, including romance, have inspired me to make changes in my own. I’ve used what I’ve learned in my own novels, to inspire women readers to go after the love they deserve.

How about you? What novels have you read that inspire you?