By Brenda Hammond, author of Catch of the Year
In the eighties, I was a harried mother of four kids. So when I was diagnosed with Graves disease and my doc advised lots of rest, this was a problem. I mean, where to find the glue that would keep me stuck to my bed or couch for a long enough period to consider it ‘rest’? Especially as I’ve never been much of a TV watcher. Rather, I was used to running around like the proverbial headless chicken. How was I going to learn to lie around in sloth?
Although my thyroid illness was debilitating, I still led a fairly normal life. Apart from that rest requirement, of course. When a dear friend who owned a beach cottage invited me for a short vacation, my husband said, “Go.” Off we set for the coast, five of us gals together, as I remember. Soon after we arrived in Plettenberg Bay, formerly Baia Formosa, in South Africa, I settled down on a couch with a view over the Indian Ocean. I turned to my hostess and asked, “Do you perhaps have something for me to read?”
For long seconds she gazed at me. Then she gave a small smile and padded across on bare feet to a low bookshelf. After rummaging for a bit, she produced a pile of old Mills and Boon romances. She looked through them, checked the summaries on the back, and handed me one. “Try this”.
Believe it or not, I’d never thought of reading or buying a romance novel. Not even during the seventies when we lived in the UK, and I must have seen them in stores. But now? Ah, the perfect diversion! As you can probably guess, the story kept me on the couch for a good while. I’d found the glue! And when I came to the end, I closed the book with a satisfied sigh. I felt good. Affirmed.
Having gobbled them all up, I was soon was on the hunt for more, more, more: Harlequins, Silhouette Special Editions, Second Chances at Love etc. etc.
Then I realized there must be an easier way to get books. Light bulb moment! I took out a subscription. And I can tell you, that was so worth it. Even now I can remember my delight when those shrink-wrapped packages arrived in the box on our gatepost in Cape Town. What wasn’t so delightful was having to wait another month before the next lot arrived. How much more fortunate are we today when we can conjure up a romance, and another and another, at the click of a mouse?
At that time, the genre hadn’t become as diversified as it is now. Mostly, I read contemporary romances. And so, when the moment came for me to start my own writing journey, this was what came naturally to me. Also, to my surprise, I discovered through ‘free’ writing exercises that my pieces often turned to funny.
I love humor. Plus, it’s healthy to laugh.
Now that I’m an author, what do I find? Usually, when I’ve completed one of my more serious writing projects, I turn again to romantic comedy. I sit at my computer, typing away to the sound of chuckling keys and think, ‘Well, at the very least, I’m amusing myself!’
But of course I also hope that I’ll be amusing you.
Have you found that romance novels have helped you through tough times too? Tell us about it in the comments!