Finally, our wonderful moderator, Christyna Hunter, is here to share a few words about her relationship with romance books. Please come and meet her, me, and all the lovely women I’ve featured this week, tomorrow, Saturday, February 13th, at 2PM at the Ashburn Virginia Library. The address is below. See you there!
Now please help me welcome, USA Today Happy Ever After blogger and Virginia librarian, Christyna Hunter!
We all know that snicker. You know the one you get when you proudly respond to someone’s question about what you are reading. Romance, you say. It used to make my skin prickle when I got that look, the condemnation.
I got that look when I was younger, too. Not because of what I read but rather what I had.
I was born with a (mild) form of cerebral palsy. To make a long story short, I was made fun of as a child by my peers for having the disability and later for the “hi-tech” portable typewriter that I used in class. (This was before laptops and iPads, folks!) Thanks to physical and occupational therapy, the outside symptoms lessened, although did not disappear. So as an adult, I’ve gotten that snicker because I still acknowledge my disability though to the outside world I often don’t fit the stereotype.
Through all of this, all the snickers and labels and challenges, I found books gave me an outlet to worlds where the underdog won. There were places where people accepted other people for who they were, even if it wasn’t in my neighborhood or classroom. Books gave me hope and pulled me out of some dark depths.
In college, my roommate randomly showed me the book she was reading, Julie Garwood’s Saving Grace. (You never forget your first.) Bam! Talk about serious love at first read. The heroine and hero were flawed and vulnerable. But they found love despite their flaws and came out better people for it. And it wasn’t just the couple’s story. Their romantic love flowed outward, transforming and uniting two warring tribes. If love did that, what other possibilities were there? I began to see the world a bit differently. There were possibilities. There were ways to get along despite differences.
And although I will always be indebted to my friend for that initial introduction, the place that took that original juicy bite and made it into a feast for me was the public library. Once I finished Saving Grace, I tried the college library. And although it had substantial information, its pleasure reading section was two bookshelves set off to the side of the lobby. So on weekends, when I was home, I visited the local public library and checked out books by Garwood. Once I devoured all of her novels, there was a buffet of other authors I discovered such as Nora Roberts and Sandra Brown. Each story brought more opportunity, more joy.
Later the public library helped me learn about writing romance novels and about self-publishing. The result was the independent publication of two of my novels (2005 and 2009). Although I didn’t become the next Nora Roberts as I had originally planned, the publication experience allowed me to learn a lot about the romance genre. In fact, I have learned so much that I have created and given presentations on the genre to different librarians over the years. It’s amazing how many librarians are not fully aware of the genre’s depth and scope!
Now that I work in the library world, I find less snickers and more acceptance. And even if there is a snicker or two, it’s now an opportunity to educate rather than rebuke. Now it’s pretty much pure joy for me.
(This post was originally posted on ReadARomanceMonth.com)
Despite being born with a disability, Christyna Hunter has surpassed all perilous predictions. She graduated from college where a friend introduced her to romance novels, started a freelance writing career, self-published two romance novels, The Butterfly’s Dance and Wildfire, and worked at a non-profit organization. Currently she works as a library associate with Loudoun County Public Libraries in Virginia, reads romance novels in her free time, and prays often to her writing muse. Check out her blog at christynahunter.wordpress.com.
And here is the interview Christyna did for USA today with Laurie Kahn, director of Love Between the Covers.
Please join Chrystina Hunter, Diana Belchase, Tracee Lydia Garner, Delancey Stewart, and Adriana Anders for a free screening of Love Between the Covers followed by an authors’ panel discussing romance in books. We will have great prizes and chocolate!
Saturday, February 13, 2016 at 2 PM at the Ashburn Virginia Library. 43316 Hay Road, Ashburn VA 20147. Be there or be square!