Since announcing to the world I had written a novel, I’ve been asked many times; “What is your book about?” It’s a great question and a natural one, it’s certainly the first question I would ask someone. However every time it is asked I want to scamper away because I haven’t yet formulated an answer. The question is also a reminder that I should sit down and write out my pitch for the novel. How do I answer this question without going into too much detail and accidentally giving the ending away. The first few times I was asked this question I waved my hand and said it is contemporary women’s fiction. My novel does fit into that category, but what book with a female protagonist written post 1950’s doesn’t fit that category. That response doesn’t reveal a single thing about the content of my book only that the main character is female.
It wasn’t until I began to review the submission guidelines for my first choice in publisher that I started to think more seriously about this question. Firstly, what category does it fit into. If I choose the generic ‘contemporary women’s fiction’ how will my book ever stand out in such a sea of storylines. Besides, my book has a specific theme. It’s a love story. Or perhaps more accurately, love stories. And yet I shudder to say it’s a romance. I read a substantial amount of novels that fall under the category of romance, although it’s not something I openly admit to doing. When I think of romance I don’t think of the novels that capture my heart but the twenty Mills & Boon books I bought for $2 at a country fete while on holidays sometime in my early teenage years. Each one indistinguishable from the next.
I was asked the question again the other day, wanting to change my response I replied my novel is a romance. The immediate follow up question was; “Like 50 Shades of Grey?” I recoiled. While I would never disregard another artist, and acknowledgment must be given for the enormous success of the trilogy, success most commercial writers dream of, that particular genre of writing, isn’t my cup of tea as granny would say. This was also the response I feared getting which was why I avoided saying romance to begin with. Straight up my book will not have you racing for a cold shower.
When I was 16 I was introduced to Pride and Prejudice, the book and the mini series with Colin Firth as Mr Darcy (the only adaptation I recognise). I fell in love with that story and since then have fallen in love with love. Call me an optimist, I am. Attack me for wearing rose coloured glasses, but I find it the most enjoyable way to view the world. Label me a hopeless romantic, it fits me well. From where I stand, love makes the world go round and stories of love are some of the oldest and most enduring stories there are. And for almost all of us, tales of love are what we can relate to, both those with happy endings and those without. I am a storyteller of love, a cheer leader for love. My name is Elissa Johnston and I am a writer of love, and proud.
My story? It is a tale of love that spans over two decades. It will take you on a wonderful journey with a strong and endearing protagonist who I hope the reader falls a little in love with. It asks all kinds of questions about love; the search, the falling and love at different stages. And how do we make love fit in with life, how do we marry it with friends, with family, with career, with dreams. How high does love rank among our other desires and what do we do when they seem to conflict. And in the end, does she find love?
Interested? I hope so and to that I say, watch this space.