Author Julie Hilden dishes on how she got her start in the romance world, and the real-life inspiration behind her spicy books!
I became a romance writer almost accidentally, when I heard a true story that I thought could be the basis for a very interesting novel. There was a college hockey player, handsome and magnetic, who couldn’t stay faithful to his girlfriend. There were constant temptations; beautiful women would perpetually approach and proposition him. Mostly, he stayed strong, but sometimes he gave in and cheated. So he and his girlfriend had lots of fights, and they were making each other miserable and on the verge of breaking up, which neither of them wanted to do. But then she decided on a solution: He could cheat, but she always had to be there when he had sex with someone else, in a threesome. He agreed. And that real-life agreement was the basis for my first novel, 3.
My second romance novel, The Film Student and Me, is completely fictional, unlike 3. Like the first, it’s set in New York City. Again, it’s about a man who is unable to remain faithful to his significant other (Clearly, I’m very interested in that premise). But this man–unlike the hockey player who inspired 3–isn’t honest about what’s going on, and his wife, Rebecca, only learns that he’s cheating on her with a younger woman by happenstance. Rather than leaving him and breaking up their family, Rebecca decides to have her own affair, with a younger man, but the younger man she chooses is sexually experimental in ways that she never expected–and that sometimes frighten or disturb her.
I enjoy writing romance novels in part because they typically present the characters with difficult or impossible choices. I once read a piece of writing advice that counseled “Torture your protagonist,” and I think that’s good advice for any writer. I try to keep my heroines under consistent pressure, and in situations where there’s no clear right answer or obvious decision.