Trust a woman
Like many romance authors, J. Perry Stone first started reading romance when she snuck a peek at her mother’s collection. Though she stopped reading the genre during college, she came back to it after marriage and childbirth.
When did you discover popular romance?
I was obsessed with Anne of Green Gables. And then I read some Victorian romances. My mom actually gave both my sister and I, at 12 years of age, Florence Barclay’s The Rosary. Have you read this? Amazing. It’s about—it’s a romance, minus any of the—no sex, very sweet, but it is completely romantic, and it’s about a very plain heroine and a very, very wonderfully gorgeous man. Of course, I related all the way. She had both of us read it. It was almost a ritual. My sister’s three and a half years older. She read it first, and then when I became 12, my mom gave me this. So she was almost setting us up for this kind of—she was feeding this taste.
I grew up right outside of Washington, DC, first at Takoma Park and then Silver Spring. I guess my first romance would have been things like Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. And my mom is a voracious reader, and I found Kathleen Woodiwiss in her bookshelves and I just picked them up. I must have been 15 maybe [. . .]
But she had everything and one of her choices, because she’s got really nice lovely taste in books, one of her choices was Kathleen Woodiwiss and I got it and read it. Man, was I shocked because, you know—very, very sheltered. But I was hooked, absolutely hooked. I loved it.
After she caught me, yeah, late at night with a flashlight under the covers. She was really cool about it. She shrugged her shoulders and that was it, and so then I grabbed every other Kathleen Woodiwiss that she had on her bottom shelf, and that was it.
Then I stopped reading that for a while because I was an English major in college and when you’re reading for school, it’s hard to remember to read for pleasure. But then after college, then I went back to it.
I could get completely lost, and it was also a really good thing after I had babies because when you have babies you’re exhausted all the time and you still have a husband with needs and the last thing you want to do is fulfill those needs, so the romance novel—you trust a woman to help you with foreplay. You know? So you read a romance and then you can go right into the bedroom and wake him up. So that helped.