I’ve often joked about my made-up word, romash, to describe my books. What I realized recently, with the help of some readers, is that a more accurate description of what I write is a romance with subtext. I love the definition of subtext: “an underlying and often distinct theme in a piece of writing or conversation.”
Of late, my favorite subtext has political tones. It doesn’t take much to rile me up and go on a writing spree about whatever topic caused the bee in my bonnet.
Sometimes I have more than one subtext in a book. Of course, I am going to talk about Pleasure Workers, which has two subtexts: immigration and stigma placed on pleasure workers (also known as sex workers-but I don’t like the negative connotations to that descriptor).
If you dig deep enough, there is another subtext in Pleasure Workers that for whatever reason finds its way into many of my books: the broader notion of beauty. I wrote the main character is such a way that it is clear how she appreciates women of all shapes, sizes, ages, etc. I like that about her.
My challenge is how to balance the subtext with the romance. Give too much attention to one over the other and some readers might feel unfulfilled. Either they didn’t get enough romance, or I didn’t do justice to an important social issue.
I am struggling with that very issue as I balance those two themes in my current work in progress. One Shot at Love is a contemporary romance, that has a strong subtext of gun violence. If I highlight the subtext more, I fear the book will sound too preachy and lose the central beauty of the romance. I suppose the other subtext is about how two very different people can come together through dialogue and compromise. The question I must always ask myself is whether my books have the perfect blend of romance and subtext to satisfy those readers who enjoy both separately.
What I won’t do is toss into the garbage my made-up name of romash, because, come on, there is something so wrong about Romsub, or Romtext, or Subrom. It just does not roll off the tongue like romash and I do like when things roll off or along my tongue. Don’t you?
If you are curious about how I developed the subtext in Pleasure Workers, all the applicable links are below. Don’t forget about Ali Spooner’s Trophy Wives Club. A real treat as a precursor for Pleasure Workers.
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