Love on the Lido Deck: A Nautical Romantic Comedy by Barbara Oliverio

Monday, September 08, 2014

When I tell people that I'm an author, they inevitably ask the next question with a brightened eye and a catch in voice.

“What do you write?”

I'm not exactly sure what the "correct" expected answer is, but I sense that the one I give them must not be the one they want to hear.

"Romantic Comedy."


I have disappointed them, but I don't know why.

Have I indicated that the genre I have chosen is on par with writing detailed instructions on how to set fire to an orphanage? On Christmas? What would be the correct answer? Mystery? Biographies of saints? Multi-part serials of wizarding teenagers? I really throw a lot of people for a loop when I add the fact that my books are all PG-rated. (It's can scratch your head at that one too if you want.)

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I can't write in other genres. I started my writing career as a technical writer and have documented everything from graphics software to oscilloscopes. (Insert yawn here.) I have also been a marketing manager and PR manager and can wrestle with that verbiage as well. (New! Improved!) And to this day my own reading choices include every genre from theology and philosophy to post-apocalyptic dystopian YA fiction to sociology.

When I decided to release my own work, though, I very specifically chose RomCom.
First, I have great respect for authors who can manipulate the genre. It's not just a matter of "boy and girl meet cute, fast forward, cue the hearts and flowers, happily ever after." A well-written romantic comedy follows a distinct set of rules. The heroine needs to learn a lesson on the journey through the story. She needs to be a real, relatable person and not just a cardboard cutout. The hero needs to be worthy of her pursuit. As other characters are introduced, they need to be part of the story and not just handy devices to make the story turn out. Although romantic comedy does not generally have mad chase scenes or heavy dramatic twists, many different elements of the real world can and should be present. RomCom can be blended with all genres including paranormal, mystery, period, etc. Look…writing a well-paced, interesting RomCom ain't for sissies.

When I chose to tell the story in my debut novel (Love on the Back Burner), as I started typing, the characters couldn't help but be funny. The words that came out of their mouths were snappy and witty and for me to rein them in would have done them a disservice. In addition, as I led the heroine through her adventures, those adventures automatically became madcap because of her personality. Therefore I knew I was squarely in the realm of comedy. But why romance, you ask, and why PG? With all due respect to authors who choose to write in a more racy format, I was convinced that even in the 21st century there is an audience for a love story that isn't explicit. I knew that an author could build the romantic narrative between two characters with dialog and plot without the necessity of them jumping into bed. I took a chance in believing that my readers could connect the dots in a love story. And the readers who have commented tell me that they can! I followed the same pattern with my current novel (Love on the Lido Deck), and am currently working on a third.

So. PG-rated RomCom it was and is.

I do have to add that when my biggest fan -- my husband -- is within earshot as I tell people that I write RomCom he always adds "...and her books are amazingly well-written." Reactions tend to be more positive. I guess it's less disappointing when a 6'3' ex-football lineman gives his stamp of approval.

One lucky reader who comments on this blog will be randomly selected to win autographed copies of Love on the Back Burner and Love on the Lido Deck. Best of Luck!

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