When I began Virgin River, I thought I was writing a romance balanced
neatly with a women’s fiction. Then I realized I had a four book series.
And then, because readers connected, I had what can only be termed as a
long running series. Or maybe better termed as a runaway train. I have
committed to many Virgin River stories. Twenty-one at last count, some
of them novellas or special Christmas editions. Honestly, I can’t see
any end in sight. Towns live for a long time.
Everyone seems to have their own definition of women’s fiction and
romance, whatever definition works for them. Mine has changed over the
years. Women’s fiction was once strictly a feminist thing in my mind,
but now it exceeds that. In this phase of my writing life romance is
about finding the perfect partner; maybe not perfect for everyone, but
perfect for the two people involved. And women’s fiction is about
dealing with the issues that threaten a woman’s happiness and peace of
mind and may (or may not) have anything to do with their romantic lives.
Those issues have such a wide range – from relationships with family
members to pregnancy and childbirth, to life threatening issues from
cancer to battery domestic.
The balance of those two genres seems to strike a cord for women readers.
Romance tends to be a woman’s issue more than a man’s, but it’s not
always the chef’s recommendation on the menu. I love romances, but I
also love those deadly serious novels that examine the
sociological/political/spiritual challenge a woman continues to have in
our world. And I adore those wonderful “girlfriend books” that bond a
group of women as they try to resolve one or more of those issues.
Add to this tender balance the daily/weekly/monthly/yearly changes in a
town and what you end up with is a lot on your plate. People come and
go, are born and die, meet and fall in love, visit and go home, the
possibilities are endless. A small town is a very large canvas to paint
I’ve never had so much fun! I find this juxtaposition of women’s
fiction/romance/small town drama gets me jazzed every morning and is hard
to wind down from at night. It might have started as a happy accident,
but it turns out to have a more personal impact than that. Based on my
reader mail, it’s what it does for women that works for me – I wish I’d
planned it! Showing female characters grappling with serious concerns in
a positive way with satisfactory results is empowering to women! Showing
female characters choosing men of honor and integrity to fall in love
with rather than some loser they hope to turn around is empowering to
women! Add in a sense of community, one that we not only all long for
but can replicate in our own neighborhoods and towns is empowering to
Before you think I’m giving myself an awful lot of credit, I realized
this after the first books were written and the readers pointed it out to
me. They told me they’d taken an important lesson from Mel Sheridan who
got on with her life after being widowed, and from Paige Lassiter who
fled an abusive spouse and from Brie Sheridan who went after her rapist.
And coming now, in Forbidden Falls, meet young Ellie Baldwin who has had
just about every hard knock a girl can endure and has survived it all.
She has earned a chance for a good, solid, dependable life and she’s ripe
for love. Soon to follow in Angel’s Peak, meet Franci Duncan who chose
to raise her child alone rather than hook herself up to a man who didn’t
want a commitment. And finally, in Moonlight Road, take a spin with Erin
Elizabeth Foley, a single woman who put her personal life on hold to
raise her orphaned siblings – now it’s her turn, and what a ride it is!
This is the writers life at its best: Virgin River is growing and growing
and with it, so is the author. I am learning from my readers and from my
stories. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Therefore, I humbly thank you.
Come away with me to Virgin River. There’s always a lot going on.