Dearest Love Interest: How to Find Romance Between the Pages

Autumn whispers its return, smears mist between the Nashville hills and paints the breeze with a nostalgic crispness. Like every other local and tourist, I don thick sweaters, sip spiced lattes and pretend summer’s heat is far in the past (forecast says it will return next week).

To celebrate the cooler weather, I took my new journal (Refer to “I Lost my Voice”) to a local state park and set up camp in a shaded grove. I sprawled on a picnic blanket and scribbled on the journal’s yellowed parchment.

I tend to not like writing in nice notebooks—I worry one slip of my pen will mess up the entire thing—but practicing my voice was different. I let myself reflect on what it means to be a writer, how writing is not authoring. The brainstorm session led me to the question:

How can I write love stories when I don’t have one of my own?


Love interests are an important element of literature. In fact, many acquisitions editors won’t accept a young adult fiction proposal if it doesn’t have a love interest. Romance seems to grab readers’ attention.

Romance also seems to create a common ground beneath the author, readers and characters.

Eight years ago, I dedicated my creativity to pen and paper. I attacked my dream of becoming an author and wrote “The Prime Way Program,” a science fiction novel with a strong love connection. Since then, I have written a handful of other books, all of which have romantic undertones. Confession: I write love stories without a reference, meaning all mushy, gushy romantic stuff in my works are from my imagination alone.

To come out and say it . . .

I have never dated . . .

And yet I have explored romantic emotions countless times.

To write fiction well, one must be vulnerable and transparent with their characters, insert their deepest, darkest secrets into the pages like a cipher. I love my characters. To find romance between the pages of their story, I tear out my own pages and do a rewrite, add what isn’t written between the lines. To fall in love with them, I must first learn to love those deep, dark extensions of myself.

Kyle Chase, main character in “The Prime Way Trilogy,” was created from the noble, tender parts of me. His leadership and innocent mind come from my question: Is empathy a sign of weakness or can it make someone strong?

Cora Kingston, also a main character in “The Prime Way Trilogy,” showcases my inner darkness, fears and complexities. She embodies all I try to hide about myself.

Julie Stryker from “The Vestige” is a monument to my transition into adulthood.

Jack Buchanan, heartthrob in “The Vestige,” is my personal dreamboat.

And collectively, the characters create me.

Takeaway: Writing romance isn’t determined by your personal love story, rather how you are able to fall in love with the messed up, understated extensions of yourself.