So, this may come as a shock— especially since I’m the girl who watches a war movie with the hubby, searching for some morsel of romance amidst the blood and explosions— I didn’t always write romance. There was a time when I’d never even read a romance book, steering clear of that ‘fluffy’ stuff, going straight for the literary fiction, classics, or, more often than not, speculative.
I love to know how people got to where they are now. (I’m just nosy like that!) I like to know why they followed a certain passion, career, ministry, or a combination of those like writing is for me. So, today I thought it’d be fun to share with everyone how I came to write contemporary romance.
Growing up, I was a HUGE fantasy and sci-fi fan. I still am and wear my geek badge proudly. It was authors like C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, Lois Lowry, Orson Scott Card, and J.R.R. Tolkien who sparked my love of adventure in fiction. And later, writers like Sharon Hinck, Terry Brooks, and yes, I’m going to say it— J.K. Rowling, showed me how ordinary, everyday people could do important things like save kingdoms and vanquish powerful foes.
When I had my oldest daughter, she was the slowest eater on the planet! Don’t get me wrong, I loved the cuddle time, but sometimes she wanted to eat for 45 minutes to 1 hour at a time. And every 2 to 3 hours, she was hungry again. That’s a lot of time sitting in a chair! So, at first, I started reading a ton, even more than usual. I loved any fantasy or sci-fi I could get my hands on. I had a baby in one arm and a book in the other.
That’s when I allowed the smallest seed of an idea I’d had for years, to become a fiction writer, to truly grow and blossom. It was a thought I’d contemplated but allowed lies to fester, creating paralyzing fear in my heart which kept me from starting. Lies like I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, didn’t have enough time, or know the right people, et cetera to see it through. But once I told those lies to take a hike, claimed the passion God had given me to create stories, and began planning my book, I was sure I would be a speculative fiction writer. It seemed only natural given my devotion to all things fantasy.
From then on, it became a baby in one arm and a pen/paper or fingers tapping out words one-handed on a computer on the other side. (I got pretty good at the one-handed typing, too!)
I struggled and I learned a lot in those early days— like how not to write a book! But with much effort and time spent, I did indeed produce a young adult fantasy novel. And then upon hearing about a book on the market with a plot too similar to my own, I completely rewrote my manuscript. I also wrote a few speculative short stories after finishing the manuscript. Something was off though. I couldn’t understand why the joy I’d had when finally allowing my inner-writer to emerge had slowly ebbed away.
Sure, I loved my characters who seemed like real people to me after the months and months of spending time with them in my head. The creativity oozed and sparked as I thought of new and exciting realms and creatures for the backdrop of my fantasy worlds. But as I stepped back and asked myself why I wasn’t enjoying this anymore and what it was that I really wanted to write— I kept coming back to the only thing I still cared about in the book I’d written— the relationship between the hero and heroine and their budding young romance.
That’s when it struck me. Even though I love speculative fiction, the relationships between the hero and heroine is what brings my passion for writing to its fullest. This is where I felt my calling to write was leading me. And I realized that all along, I’d searched for depth and realism in the relationships between the characters I’d written and read over the years. I’d hunted for the bitter and the sweet of romance in the books I’d read— no matter the genre—because that’s what resonates with me. So, I decided I wanted to explore the depths and heights of human emotion, how pasts affect the present in relationships, and give readers the toe-tingling tenderness and heat of first kisses in realistic, contemporary settings in my writing.
At first, I felt maybe I’d betrayed my geekdom by switching to romance writing. But have you ever set out to do something and immediately a peace and a quiet confidence of ‘rightness’ washes over you? Kind of like a duckling taking to the water, right? That was me the minute I started writing contemporary romance.
I call my writing, “romance with a spark of adventure,” because I’ve kept my roots of epic quests, heroism, and bravery within my romantic writing. I truly feel my writing now has benefited from my speculative fiction attempts. And, who knows? Maybe someday I’ll combine my romance writing with my love of fantasy. But for now, I’m right where I belong. And that’s right where I want to be—in the heart of His purpose for my life.
Have you ever been sure your purpose stretched down a certain path only to have your course change?
What are your passions?
I’d love to know what creative and exciting things are going on in your life!
A born and bred Midwesterner, Mollie Rushmeyer makes her home in central Minnesota with her husband and two spunky, beautiful daughters. From a young age, she loved putting words to page and dreamed of becoming an author. As an inspirational contemporary romance and women’s fiction writer, she loves to bring stories of hope to messy, prodigal gals just like her.
She’s an active member of ACFW and is the Vice President of her local chapter. In her “spare” time she lives out her Lois Lane fantasies as a local print journalist, writes encouraging online content for Crosswalk and iBelieve, is an outdoors enthusiast, a passionate champion for the freedom of human trafficking victims, loves to sing and read, and enjoys full-time employment as a monkey-catcher… ahem, mommy.
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