I didn’t grow up sneaking romance novels from my aunt’s closet. When I started writing fiction, romance novels seemed like a place I might fit in because they explore characters’ emotions and inner struggles. I had a lot of practice writing about such things in my journal. I once thought I might write a self-help book with a chapter for each major crush I went through in my life and what I learned from it. I decided that writing romance novels would be a more fun way to share my experiences.
Originally, based on a handful of romance novels I’d read in college, I had a goal of writing novels with as many love scenes as possible, without them getting boring. I started reading in different sub-genres of romance and learning about the history of romance novels, and my goal quickly changed to writing feminist romance novels with empowered heroines. I discovered things like beta heroes and #consentissexy, and my goals as a writer kept growing into what feels more like a mission.
“Literary” people criticize genre fiction and romance novels in particular as being unimportant or “trashy” or “porn for housewives” but I disagree. By portraying positive relationships with good communication, romance novels help readers envision such relationships for themselves. They can be a model of proper consent for young people and can portray diverse types of relationships and people. They can be a fun escape while still having depth and contributing to a better society.
I gravitated toward fantasy romance but couldn’t seem to write the “dark fantasy” of most of the books I read. That’s how I ended up writing “cozy fantasy romance”—lighthearted stories with action and adventure, love and magic, but without the violence and lurking evil of many fantasy worlds. My books are kind of like The Princess Bride movie, in book form. I’ve been actively reading other potential cozy fantasies (often self-published) and am hopeful that the sub-sub-genre will find readers and take off.
I’ve also drafted some contemporary romances that I’d like to publish in the next few years. I’m hoping to share some more complex characters who are struggling with depression or panic attacks or other issues. I also want to write love scenes that include some real-life elements like a position not working well for a couple or someone being too tired for sex. I want readers to know that mishaps and imperfections are normal.
I was single for decades and have had a long (and ongoing) journey to believe I am valuable and to be confident. The themes in my stories will probably stay rooted in my own struggles to believe in myself and be courageous. “Jane” is my middle name and the pen name I use for my romance writing. You can learn more about my other pursuits at emilybuehler.com.
I live in the historical, writer-filled town of Hillsborough, North Carolina. When I have any free time, and even when I don’t, I like to hike with my partner, write paper letters to friends outside of Kim’s Bakery, defuse my Very Angry Cat named Coco by letting him kill his feather toy, or listen to podcasts to make mowing the lawn bearable.