Family and childhood

What goes into the making of a romance writer? Did all romance writers grow up surrounded by books? In small towns? In big cities? Did a family member read The Princess Bride to them every evening before bed? Thirteen authors talk about their family histories.


Kim Killion: I’m from the Midwest, and I grew up on a farm and bottle-fed calves when I was a sophomore in high school. And money sent me away to be an artist.

Romance writers come from a lot of places. Where did they grow up?

Nalini Singh: My early childhood in Fiji? Um, I guess it was like most people’s childhood.

Radclyffe: I grew up in Hudson Falls, New York, which is actually the village of Hudson Falls.

Nicole Peeler: I grew up in Aurora, Illinois, which is the furthest west suburb of Chicago.

Jessica Andersen: I grew up in a little town called Hanover, which is now a pretty affluent suburb, but back then, you know, there were pigs in people’s backyards. So it was still pretty farm country, and that was fun.

Cindy Gerard: I literally grew up in a town of 750 people.

Lexie O’Neill: I’m from a rural area in Virginia.

Radclyffe: Very small town. Ethnically not very diverse.

Jill Shalvis: I was a valley girl, San Fernando Valley.

Crystal Jordon: I grew up in the Bay Area, in California.

Jill Shalvis: Spent my whole life on the beach, in LA, Hollywood, Westwood. I was this very natural LA girl.

Crystal Jordan: It was a ranching and farming community at the time. We were big for our corn festival in July. That was rockin’.

What about their parents?

Sherry Thomas: Well, I guess you could say we were a family of academics and professionals. My grandfather taught—he was a professor of parasitology.

Jessica Andersen: My mom, she’s a really interesting character. She’s a biostatistician who runs big parts of the AIDS research on the planet.

Crystal Jordan: My father was in, like, engineering, he worked for Lockheed and —then Lockheed Martin—and most of the things he did he couldn’t tell me about.

Caridad Piñeiro: My parents had to leave Cuba in a rush. They had been working against Castro after working for Castro.

Crystal Jordan: My mom worked in telecommunications, and she also was a dog breeder on the side.

Nalini Singh: My dad’s a computer analyst, and my mom is a tailor.

Cindy Gerard: My dad was a blue-collar worker all the way.

Brenda Jackson: Oh, my father was a meat cutter with a major food store, and my mother was a registered nurse.

Caridad Piñeiro: My dad had always, you know, his family had a store in Cuba. So at first he kind of went to work doing odd jobs. He got, you know, a commercial license, he was driving trucks.

Nicole Peeler: My parents were high school teachers, and my brother’s a policeman.

Radclyffe: All my family were garment workers. My father was a shirt cutter, my mother was a glove maker, my aunts were dressmakers.

Lexie O’Neill: My father was a maintenance worker for the railroad, and a farmer on the side.

Cindy Gerard: He worked for the John Deere factory for 38 years in Waterloo, Iowa.

Beverly Jenkins: Dad worked for Chrysler. He also worked for the Detroit Board of Education, later on.

Radclyffe: My father was a high school graduate. My mother was not, she didn’t graduate from high school.

Cindy Gerard: My mother came from a very poor family, and she actually had to quit school when she was 15.

Lexie O’Neill: My father was the first one in his family to have a high school degree. My mother was pregnant with me at 16 and only had a GED.

Cindy Gerard: I’ll never forget that when I was a senior in high school she got her GED. Which we were so proud of, ’cause that was the first time she had an opportunity to even—further education of any type, because she’d been working and raising the family.

What about the rest of the family?

Brenda Jackson: I’m the oldest of six kids. Big family, but it was a very close-knit family.

Beverly Jenkins: Extended family—my mom has six brothers and sisters, so.

Nalini Singh: I was very close to a lot of my cousins, and my aunts and uncles.

Beverly Jenkins: So my brother’s a musician, I have sisters who make dolls, I have sisters who make cards, and all of us are creative in some way or form.

Nalini Singh: But, you know, I grew up with this mess of extended family, so I always had people to play with.

Beverly Jenkins: And the family picnics at my grandmother’s house—you know, you had the uncles in the back lying and drinking brown liquor and, you know, playing cards and the kids running through.

Brenda Jackson: So on Saturday night we would meet at my grandmother’s house and we would exchange stories. And me being one of the youngest I would just love to hear about their falling-in-love type of romance stories and couldn’t wait until I grew up where I can experience this falling in love thing.

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