Imagine you’re at a social event–could be dinner with your spouse’s co-workers, maybe a book signing, a writer panel you’re participating in on how to write a sex scene, even a family gathering–and your profession comes up as a topic of interest. Not unusual; people like to chat about what they do, and when you have a creative career (especially if you work for yourself and/or don’t have “traditional” hours or whatnot), the curiosity grows exponentially.

Learning that you write romance seems to trigger a reaction in some people. Not all, mind you, but definitely enough that we writers of kissing books have very likely experienced some variation of the following, all said in a *wink wink nudge nudge* tone, sometimes with an actual wink and/or nudge:

“Ooh, your spouse sure is lucky!”

“So, what did you do for ‘research’?

“I’ll bet your spouse helped you with the ‘research’, huh?”

*long-suffering sigh*

So, there’s always discourse about this, and rightfully so. It’s invasive, it’s nosy, and it’s just freaking weird to ask or insinuate what they’re insinuating. No one in their right mind asks Stephen King (or any other horror writer, for that matter) what they did for “research” on their book.

“Wow, those stabbings must have been really somethin’, huh?” *wink wink nudge nudge*

Or asked if a science fiction writer went to space or traveled through a wormhole or time loop or battled little gray aliens to get the details right in their recent work.

Of course not!

It’s like a switch flips in someone’s head, and they just can’t imagine that we romance authors reserached our work the way pretty much every other author does–by looking things up. Especially if we write on the spicier side. It’s somehow much more glamorous (and…creepy?) for them to imagine us doing all the things we describe in our books instead of *checks notes* sitting at our computer in sweatpants and Googling. 

On top of that (phrasing definitely intended), we romance authors would like those folks to know that, shockingly, we may not be into the things we write about or describe. I’ll give you a minute to process. All good? Okay. Just like writers who do not write kissing books, or books where much more than kissing goes on, we use our imaginations and try to write realistic scenes from the protagonist’s perspective. And the protagonist may experience or be into a lot of things we authors 1) haven’t experienced; 2) have no desire to experience; 3) will never will experience for whatever reason.

But, if you believe we have first-hand experience with something, maybe we do–or maybe we just have good imaginations. *wink wink nudge nudge*

Oh…and please don’t make it weird.

xoxo Ryley