Julia Quinn's first try at a little romance was more like a shotgun wedding.
"It was summer vacation and I was reading - if I remember right - one of the 'Sweet Valley High' books," Quinn recalled. "My father saw what I was reading and started giving me grief, saying I should read something better.
"He said, 'Give me one good reason why you should read this book rather than 'Moby-Dick,' or something like that,' " Quinn said. "I tried to say I was picking up vocabulary words but that didn't work. So I said I was reading this book because it was research - that I planned to write such a book myself."
What Quinn didn't count on was that her father would immediately plunk her down in front of the family's computer - "one of those ancient ones, with the tiny screen and green letters" - and told her to start writing.
What Quinn's father didn't count on was that his daughter would quickly churn out the first couple of chapters in relatively brief time.
"I sent it off, with what I thought was this killer cover letter, about my being just 16 years old - and I got it back so fast I'm sure they didn't even bother reading it," she said, laughing.
These days, Quinn's novels have millions of fans, have won many awards and have earned their author a place in the Romance Writers' Hall of Fame as the youngest inductee.
Quinn will be in Tulsa on Saturday, along with three fellow novelists, for an event titled, "You, Me and Tea with Romance's Most Popular Authors," at the Tulsa Central Library.
Joining Quinn will be:
- Rachel Gibson, whose 17 contemporary romance novels include the just-published "Rescue Me";
- Elizabeth Boyle, author of 21 historical romances including the eight-volume "The Bachelor Chronicles" series;
- Pamela Palmer, author of 13 paranormal romances ranging from her "Feral Warriors" series to the newly released "A Blood Seduction."
When asked about the whole concepts of "romance writers traveling the country in packs," Quinn let out a whoop of laughter.
"Oh, it's nothing like that," she said. "These things are put together by the publisher - the four of us share a publisher. And it's not always the four of us. Today, for example, Rachel and I are in Phoenix for an event.
"It's always much more fun to do tours with another writer - more fun for us and more fun for the audience because we can play off each other," Quinn said. "If there's a downside, it might be that you may sell fewer books because some people might think they have to buy one book from every author and that can get expensive. But the benefits far outweigh any negatives."
Quinn may not have published that first novel, but the experience of writing was enjoyable enough that, when she was going through college in preparation of attending medical school, she continued writing.
"I never envisioned this as something I would do for a living," she said. "Then I got my first contract for two books right about the time I learned I had been accepted to medical school."
Quinn postponed her medical studies to work on another novel, but when she finally got to med school, it didn't take her long to realize that the writing life was much more her speed.
Quinn specializes in historical romances, set primarily in early 19th-century England - what are usually billed as "Regency" romances.
"I was drawn to it because it was the sort of books I enjoyed reading," she said. "I would look for keywords on the cover - lords and ladies, England, that sort of thing."
What has helped distinguish her work in the field is Quinn's use of humor - from witty repartee between potential lovers or enemies to the occasional situation that may verge on slapstick.
"Again, it was something I always looked for in books - I don't think I made any kind of conscientious decision to use humor," Quinn said. "But now, I honestly can't think of writing in any other way."
And while readers of romance novels have certain expectations they require authors to meet, Quinn said she enjoys "shaking things up" with each book.
"I really love writing stories about people in this relatively small time period," she said. "Since I'm not going to change the 'what' or 'when' of my stories, that means I have to make the 'how' different. It forces me to look for different approaches to a story or come up with new twists to how I present the characters."
James D. Watts Jr 918-581-8478
Original Print Headline: Romance authors to visit Tulsa library