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Romance Novelist Jasmine Guillory: Says That Love is Great Because “It Brings People Joy”
Talking to New York Times best-selling romance novelist Jasmine Guillory about her new work, “The Lost City,” a recent romantic comedy film, came up. In the movie, Sandra Bullock plays a romance novelist who has found success in the industry but is secretly resentful of the genre that made her famous. She insults her devoted readership by perpetuating stereotypes, and Channing Tatum’s character serves as a visual reminder “Calling your work schluck is condescending to the fans who have supported you. I would have expected that you, of all people, would have learned long ago not to judge a book by its cover.” The moment struck me as a devotee of romance and someone who has long loathed when modern literature is equated to chick lit; I had recently viewed the movie (though Guillory hadn’t yet streamed it) before we talked. I was curious as to how Guillory, in her role as a writer, addresses such stereotypes.
Guillory tells POPSUGAR, “It’s annoying to me because it feels like it’s so steeped on misogyny.” “You think there’s something sexist about penning love stories for female readers? Allusions to further discussion are unnecessary at this point. Right?” A joyful conclusion is not “unrealistic,” according to Guillory. As she elaborates, “Many of the people I know who are married are content with their unions. It’s not as if life suddenly becomes problem-free for them because they’re in love and living happily ever after. The cheerful conclusion doesn’t imply that. However, they are now a happy couple. I believe it’s cool and enjoyable to go into those kinds of connections. There are a lot of stories of love that include two people facing adversity and learning to work through it together. And that’s why I enjoy creating romantic stories so much.”
In the end, the writer of “Quote from “The Proposal” “I do not understand all the people who look down on it. When something makes people happy, why look down on it?” The latest work by Guillory, “Drunk on Love,” is a source of happiness. The September 20th book, a contemporary romance, transports readers to a Black-owned, family winery in Napa Valley, California. Despite their difficult relationship, Margot Noble and her brother Elliott run the vineyard together. When Margot, normally so concentrated, finally lets loose, she has a one-night affair with Luke Williams, only to learn the next day that he is the winery’s newest employee. As Guillory teases, “they have to deal with their new relationship as boss and employee and try to ignore all the feelings that they’ve had from the night before and that deepen during the course of the book.”
What then, is the first step for Guillory in developing a story? Even while there’s a framework involved, the answer isn’t necessarily “chicken then egg.” The stage is frequently prepared for her. Napa actually addressed her this time. Not only does she not live very far from the tourist hotspot, but she also had to learn what goes into running a winery in order to be a proper visit. “I started initially by asking a lot more questions anytime I went to a winery, asking all the folks there how long they’ve worked there, what they do, and what their job really comprises,” she says. Then, “I spoke with a few winery owners to learn more about the history.”
With her scene set, she also had no doubt that Luke was a local to Napa and, like many others during the pandemic and in the wake of the recent trend of quietly quitting, was trying to figure out what to do next with his life. She continues, “I recognised it was about him quitting his career but then wondering if he’d made the correct decision.” “Why had he ever stopped doing this if it was his destiny? Did folks feel he was letting them down? Did he feel bad about his performance? What was it that he desired most from life, anyway? And I believe that is something that many people investigate, particularly those in their late twenties and early thirties, like Luke.”
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When pressed for more detail, she says “Many individuals, I believe, reach a crossroads in their lives and ask themselves, “Wait, do I want what I had planned to accomplish?” Or had I simply carried that idea with me over the years, perhaps because it was something my parents want for me?” Luke and Margot’s Blackness is central to the story and to their growth, as it is in all of Guillory’s writings. As “a person of colour, a man of colour, a Black man who had been in tech and been the guy who made it good,” Luke had to figure out how to cope with the disappointment of others after giving up his high-profile position for a minimum-wage job as a cellar hand at Margot’s winery.
“The protagonists in my writings are all persons of African descent,” Guillory proudly proclaims. To paraphrase, “I want them to feel like these are real people and are in situations that genuinely happen.” The reality she depicts in her writings is having an effect. At a book event in the fall of 2019, Guillory says a woman approached her and said, “I wanted to let you know that reading your books helped me get through a tough period in my life. As a result, I was able to make it through the tough times.” As a result of their emotional connection, both Guillory and the fan shed a few tears. Books have helped me get through some tough times, and the idea that they might do the same for others is incredibly humbling.
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