by Dina Sleiman
Last week at the ACFW conference was filled with wonderful memories. One of the great conversations I had was…well, more of an argument really…with Gina over the definition of a romance novel. Gina follows very strict guidelines and often fusses that even award-winning books in romance categories aren’t actual romances. I, on the other hand, take a more liberal view. However, after hashing it out for a while, I think we came to a consensus.
|Dandelion Dering played by Taylor?|
And I have decided that for me as an author, romances are a bit stifling.
Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy and girl face obstacles in getting together. Boy and girl live happily ever after. That’s the basic romance novel in a nutshell. For a true romance, if you remove the romantic thread, there’s no plot left. And the story should be told from the hero and heroines third person points of view.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I adore romance. For me, no book is complete without it. I even love a happy ending. But personally, I enjoy a few more twists and turns along the journey.
When I penned my debut novel, I wanted it to be a love story, but I wanted to go a different route in how I explored the topic of love. The first thing that came to mind was a Eugene O’Neil play I had read in high school. In it, the heroine lost her true love in one of the World Wars. She spends the rest of the play searching for a man who can take his place—but instead finds only men who fulfill aspects of that longing. This gave me an idea. What if my heroine turned her back on true love because of a childhood wound? She could spend the rest of the story searching for love. She would find men who represented aspects of love, but never quite the real thing.
So in my novel, Dance of the Dandelion, my peasant heroine does indeed turn away from true love because of her childhood trauma of enduring a famine. This launches her on a journey of discovery. She goes through a series of men against an exciting backdrop of the medieval pageantry and adventure on the high seas. Gottfried, the stoic knight, fulfills her need for safety and belonging. Richard, the charming castle steward, meets her longing for romance and fun. Giovanni, the kind Italian merchant, provides her with friendship and companionship. Finally she meets Lucio, the sexy sea captain, who represents passion and desire, but each relationship lacks some important element and leaves her unfulfilled.
As you might have guessed, it is only when Dandelion finds God’s true love that she is set free to find earthly love as well. But the story doesn’t end there. Dandelion still has challenges and difficult choices to face.
So, I guess the verdict is in. I write happy-ending romantic love stories of the non-romance variety. Did that make any sense? To hardcore romance readers who approach a book with a very specific set of expectations it does. And yet I think any romance readers will love my novel.
Here's what a few of your favorite authors have to say (humor me for a minute, I just got two of these yesterday and have to share them somewhere.)
"Dina Sleiman is a beautiful writer. Romantic and gritty, Dance of the Dandelion takes readers on an epic journey of human failings, self discovery, and second chances. Through it all God’s love and forgiveness shines through."
--Julie Klassen, Bestselling Author
"This medieval romp of a book reads like a dance! Full of unexpected twists and turns, it displays the folly or joy of our choices and the God who enables us to find true freedom in Him. Dandelion Dering is a heroine you won't soon forget!”
"A magical medieval tale of whim and whimsy, the Dance of the Dandelion is one woman's journey to both true love and the truth, spinning a spell that will hold you captive from the first page to the last. Strongly recommended for mature audiences, this is a novel--and an author--not to be missed, and an emotional and spiritual journey that will leave you breathless."
Dance of the Dandelion is now available in print and ebook on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. Next week the Inkies have decided to celebrate the release of my debut novel. Please come back and join us and enjoy their various perspectives on the book as well as a giveaway opportunity.
Which do you prefer, a romance novel or a love story? Why? What is your definition of a romance?
Dina Sleiman writes lyrical stories that dance with light. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. She was the Overall Winner in the 2009 Touched by Love contest for unpublished authors. Her first novel, Dance of the Dandelion with Whitefire Publishing has just released. She has recently become an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire as well. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at http://dinasleiman.com/