What this guy thinks about all the time

This is a guest post by author Lou Aronica

Lou Aronica is the author of the USA Today bestseller THE FOREVER YEAR and the national bestsellers BLUE, WHEN YOU WENT AWAY, THE JOURNEY HOME, and LEAVES, among other works of fiction. He also collaborated on the New York Times nonfiction bestsellers THE ELEMENT and FINDING YOUR ELEMENT (with Ken Robinson) and the national bestseller THE CULTURE CODE (with Clotaire Rapaille). Aronica is a long-term book publishing veteran. He is President and Publisher of the independent publishing house The Story Plant. You can reach him at laronica@fictionstudio.com.

I wrote my first “novel” when I was thirteen, wrote another “novel” in college, and then another still when I was in my early twenties. I let one or two people see them, realized as I was doing so how embarrassed I was by the work, and then made them disappear. These are not in a trunk anywhere. They will never show up, ever. I’ve wiped the sentences from my mind so I can never inflict them on anyone. Still, I’d been thinking even then about the kind of novel I wanted to write and it always came down to the same thing: I wanted to write a love story.

It seems that some people think it’s odd that a guy would aspire to write this kind of fiction. My first publisher even told me that my being male gave my work a “distinctive hook.” I find this mystifying. Since I was a kid, I’ve always been fascinated by romance. It always seemed vitally important to me. I mean, if you had a great romance in your life, how much more did you really need? Okay, some really good pizza (thin crust, of course, preferably a sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes). The Yankees winning the World Series at least once every five years. Maybe a music collection filled with everything from Miles Davis to Manchester Orchestra. Beyond that, the great romance took care of most everything else.

I’ve always given a great deal of thought to love. When I was a teenager, I fantasized epic affairs (yes, I also fantasized just about every other kind of interaction with a member of the opposite sex, because that’s what boys do). This actually turned out to be somewhat detrimental to my real-world dating life, as I’d built the thing up in my head so much. Pursuing my education and my career were hugely important to me, but I still spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about a relationship I might be in or one I might want to be in.

I don’t think I’m all that unusual, but at the same time, I can’t say I have a great deal of anecdotal evidence to back up this point. I’ve rarely discussed love with most of my male friends. That doesn’t mean that these friends don’t think about love the way I do, just that none of us have found an effective entry point into the conversation. I can just tell from how these men live their lives and set their priorities. As I say in the introduction to my Hearts of Men series, “Since I was a teenager I’ve been hearing people say that men weren’t in touch with their feelings and that they avoided letting their emotions guide them. That certainly wasn’t me, and it certainly wasn’t many of the people I knew. Yet this narrative has proven to be a durable one. You see and hear it everywhere – in books, on film, in the media, in coffee shops. I truly believe it is a flawed narrative.”

Therefore, it seemed entirely natural to me that when I finally turned to fiction – for real this time, as opposed to the pages I created and then vaporized in the past – that I would write a love story. In fact, once I started, these stories came to me in a rush. At this point, there are eight Hearts of Men titles and four more titles in my Gold Family series that also has a strong focus on love and relationships. The idea of doing this because it was a “distinctive hook” never crossed my mind. When I embarked on my fiction-writing career, I decided to utilize a corollary to the writer’s axiom “write what you know” – write what you think about all the time. For me, that’s love.