When it comes to reading romance, most of us are looking for escape from our everyday lives. We don’t want to deal with our work stress, politics, crazy families or our to-do lists. Personally, while I always find a way, ultimately, to laugh at the crazy antics of my two teenaged girls, sometimes, I want a break from the eye rolls, attitude and emotional angst. When we do read books with those things, we like to see characters who solve their problems by the end of the story—simply, gracefully, with their own happily ever after. We might not be able to achieve that in our own lives, but we want to experience those solutions in our characters’ lives.
So too, do we want to see characters who look like us, talk like us, act like us and even worship like us. Readers are diverse, and characters should be too. I absolutely love to read about characters who experience things I’ve never experienced. It’s enlightening and educational, and when I read books with characters different from me, I always come away from the experience saying, “Wow, I never knew that!” But there’s also a certain comfort that comes from reading books featuring characters with whom I can relate. That’s not to say I want to read about someone just like me all the time, but sometimes, I want to be represented.
That’s why some of the romances I write feature Jewish characters. I will be the first to admit that I LOVE reading Christmas books. I love the warm, cozy feelings those books give me. I love picturing the decorations and food. But sometimes, I want to read about a character who celebrates Passover, like me. Family dynamics are fun to write about, certain cultural customs provide great conflict, and you wouldn’t believe what I can do with a heroine bemoaning her frizzy, gravity-defying hair! There’s a certain amount of realism I can bring to a scene when I’ve actually experienced a piece of what I’m describing.
A few years ago, I had an idea for a series of books that tracked the Jewish calendar, with each book featuring a different holiday. I wrote two of them, and I may go back to that, but along the way, I decided I wanted to write less about a holiday and more about everyday life. So I began a new series, and the first one, Addicted to Love, released on July 21. Yes, my hero and heroine are Jewish, but religion isn’t the theme of the book. No one is having a religious crisis and the book is not inspirational. Hannah lives with her grandma, and their scenes were some of my favorite to write—for those of you who don’t know, a Jewish grandma’s greatest joy is to see her grandchildren get married. So already, we’re in a good place, since it’s a romance. There’s a scene or two in a synagogue, in much the same way as other books sometimes have a Sunday scene in a church. And there’s lots of talk about food!
The world we live in is a wonderfully diverse place. Cultures, customs, religions, speech patterns, physical appearances—they all combine to create a rich texture. And romances that incorporate those textures create a reality into which we can all escape. I hope you’ll join me!
Biography: Jennifer started telling herself stories as a little girl when she couldn’t fall asleep at night. Her favorite stories to write are those with smart, sassy, independent heroines; handsome, strong and slightly vulnerable heroes; and her stories always end with happily ever after.
In the real world, she’s the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men she knows. When she’s not writing, she loves to laugh with family and friends, is a pro at finding whatever her kids lost in plain sight, and spends way too much time closing doors that should never have been left open. She believes humor is the only way to get through the day and doesn’t share her chocolate.
She writes contemporary romance, some of which are mainstream and some of which involve Jewish characters. All are available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Her latest book is Addicted to Love.
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