Finding romance (novels)

Have you ever wondered how your favorite authors were introduced to romance novels? From discoveries made while babysitting to gifts from relatives, authors Jessica Andersen, Kristan Higgins, Debbie Kaufman, Jayne Ann Krentz, Caridad Piñeiro, Jill Shalvis, and Nalini Singh share their first romance read!


Jayne Ann Krentz: Well, I had one memorable encounter with a classic romance novel, The Sheik.

Jessica Andersen: Ah, Sacred Sins by Nora Roberts.

Kristan Higgins: It was Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss.

Debbie Kaufman: It was called Forever Amber.

Do you remember your first romance novel?

Caridad Piñeiro: That book was Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss. And what happened was I said, “Oh, my God. What’s going on? Because this book’s on the bestseller list. I can’t even keep enough copies in the display area.” So I bought one, and I took it home and that was it.

Nalini Singh: I went to Fiji for a visit. I think I would have been 14, around that age, 14 or 15.

Jill Shalvis: I think I was 12. Walking home, I think I told you, in the library; walking home, stopped at the library to do some research and found the naughty historicals in the back rack that weren’t categorized. They were just on a rack, literally 10 cents each.

Kristan Higgins: I was sleeping over at my grandmother’s, and she had a lot of children, a lot of grandchildren, so she didn’t pay a lot of attention to us. You know, as long as we weren’t bleeding, we were fine.

Jayne Ann Krentz: I was 13 years old. I found it when I was babysitting one night, found it stashed behind a row of books in my client’s house.

Kristan Higgins: I found a rather tawdry-looking book on her nightstand. It was open to the middle.

Debbie Kaufman: They had it on a table or something.

Kristan Higgins: And I started reading it, and I just fell into that world.

Debbie Kaufman: And I picked it up, and read it, and of course it had all the naughty bits, and I was maybe 16 or so, and I was totally fascinated.

Jill Shalvis: Grabbed one of them. I’d open my chemistry book and put the historical book in between [the covers of the chemistry book].

Jayne Ann Krentz: I read that sucker all the way until she came home that night. I had never read anything like it.

Kristan Higgins: It was so vivid and exciting and the characters were so. . . just larger than life.

Jessica Andersen: That was my first romance novel where I read it, and was really hooked, and was really intrigued by the romance. And there were not horribly graphic sex scenes, but they were there, and that really grabbed me, and said something to me.

Kristan Higgins: They were clearly going to be in love, but they had so much difficulty falling in love. I couldn’t stop reading it. I read the whole book in one sitting, and I remember she came in and found me, and she said, “That is not appropriate,” and she was absolutely right. It was not appropriate, but the damage was done [laughs].

Jill Shalvis: I don’t think that’s what my science teacher had in mind when she sent me for a chemistry book, but that started my love of reading, and I inhaled books for the next 10 years.

Nalini Singh: I just inhaled those books. I just read all of the ones she [my aunt] gave me, and then of course I had to go find more and find different subgenres.

Caridad Piñeiro: I said, “Oh my God. This is what I want to write. This is what I want to read,” and then I would just scour the aisles in the department and buy whichever books were there that I could go home and read. And then just eventually I decided I’ve got to sit down and really write one of these, and the rest is history.

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