When I was younger, I cherished deeply emotional stories. If a book made me cry, so much the better. I wanted to experience every high and low along with the characters. I think it began with Gone with the Wind. When the movie was re-released, I was thirteen--the perfect age to revel in angst. And nobody did it better than Margaret Mitchell. Melanie's death scene would wring tears from a statue, much less a thirteen-year-old girl. I saw that movie four times, and re-read the book until the cover fell off.
I continued to adore intensely emotional stories for many years. For example, one scene in Paradise by Judith McNaught still brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. Only a special writer can pull readers so completely into a story. In my first two books, I gave my characters serious problems and was surprised and gratified when a reviewer wrote that she cried while reading one. I hadn't set out to evoke tears, but I appreciated the intensity of her response.
So when and why did my tastes start to change? It was a gradual process influenced by life itself. The more serious life events I experienced first hand, the more I sought escape in my reading and writing life. I became a huge fan of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books with their outrageous characters and situations and decided to try my hand at writing lighter. I can't approach Janet's skill at writing comedy, but I did have tremendous fun injecting a healthy dose of humor into my next two projects.
My most recent release, a Western historical novella entitled The Treasure of Como Bluff features a paleontologist heroine who discovers an amnesiac greenhorn at her dig site. One reviewer compared their dialogue to Gable and Lombard or Tracy and Hepburn, and the premise allowed numerous opportunities for silly shenanigans, including forcing the hero to parade around in a pink sunbonnet. Here's the blurb:
In her race against rival bone hunters, the last complication paleontologist Caroline Hubbard needs is an unconscious stranger cluttering up her dig site. Nicholas Bancroft might have the chiseled features and sculpted physique of a classical statue, but she's not about to let him hamper her quest to unearth a new species of dinosaur and make her mark on the scientific world.
I may write more serious books again in the future, but for now I'm happy to bring a little laughter to my readers' lives. What about you? Have you reading and writing tastes changed a bit over time, or do you still love the kind of stories that have always moved you?