Tags: Enrichment, Featured Story
Romance novels may not be the genre that comes to mind as fine literature, but a conversation with local author Susanne Dietze would likely change that perception.
Dietze recognizes that romance novels are often perceived as “cheesy and poorly-written and not actually that popular.” However, the value of her chosen genre is in part proven by its annual revenue. According to MarketWatch’s 2018 statistics, romance novels make up more than $1 billion in sales and more than 30 percent of consumer book purchases overall.
“They outsell other fiction like spy novels, crime novels, fantasy novels and categories that seem like they’d top the list. The editing process I’ve had to go through has been very thorough. Our stories are powerful. Romance novels portray women in a positive light and they typically show a journey of self-discovery for both characters,” she explained. “Romance novels enrich vocabulary, and they absolutely have literary and historical value.”
The Bakersfield-based writer works through multiple publishers, including the genre’s most famous editorial house: Harlequin Romance.
Since 2015, Dietze has published one non-fiction story published in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Mothers,” four novels, and 13 novella collections, the majority of which are period literature set in different historical eras. She has three novels coming out this year, including “Blizzard Bride” in February. Several titles are also slated for publication in 2021, including two that feature contemporary settings.
Dietze is a pastor’s wife and writes primarily for a Christian audience through a genre called “romance with spiritual elements.”
“Others can enjoy it too, but God is central in the storyline, as in spirituality cannot be removed from the plot without ruining the storyline,” said Dietze.
Kissing is as far as the romance goes in her stories, which she describes as suitable to gift to Grandma or a teenager.
Surprisingly, Dietze’s writing career began somewhat later in life; although she enjoyed writing short stories in high school that featured friends, her work wasn’t published until she was over 40. After winning third place in an industry conference, she decided to try submitting a draft for publication. Success, however, wasn’t immediate.
Five years of rejection notices culminated with a thoughtful three-page reply from an editor outlining what worked and what didn’t in her submission. Dietze took her advice and made revisions. The woman who drafted the reply is now one of her editors.
Dietze signed with a literary agent six years ago. She remains extremely grateful for the support of her husband, grown children, and parents.
“If you have a dream, do not give up on it. Keep trying. Pursuing that dream takes a lot of work. I’m still trying to improve and get better at my craft, but it has been a thrill to get this far,” she said. Her work has kept her busy, with as many as eight projects at once, and her novel was a finalist for a Romance Writers of America award last year.
“I think people seek out romance novels because the stories are optimistic and hopeful and have happy endings, a lot of the same popularity of the Hallmark Channel’s movies.
People want and need upbeat stories that won’t give them nightmares before they go to sleep,” she said. “Life is so unpredictable. We all need to read something relaxing before bed.”
Dietze’s books are available on Amazon.com. Find more information at susannedietze.com.