You know what I’ll never understand about the romance genre? All the babies. There’s babies in bellies and babies in baskets, lost babies, sick babies, secret babies—and that’s a subgenre to itself, where the heroine has the hero’s baby, doesn’t tell him, and he finds out years later and they fall back in love.
I’ve written bags of these things, mostly bestsellers, and I’m stumped. It’s just, aren’t kids the death of romance? They’re cute, but come on. They shit. They puke. They scream through the night. They teethe and get colic and scare you to death; they trip and they fall; they think bugs are food. And that’s after they’re born. First, you’ve got to squat one out, which involves farting and haemorrhoids and long, sweaty nights, big swollen feet and hormonal mood swings. Now, I’ve never been pregnant, but I’m always sick and tetchy, and it doesn’t give me hotpants. Nor does it do much for my sex appeal.
Still, these books…I think I’ve written one that didn’t involve a child. The rest all had one single parent, two single parents, an unplanned pregnancy, or a foundling. In romance-land, all condoms have holes.
I used to wonder if human children evolved to be as irritating as possible. Like, if a kid could be horrible enough, maybe its parents wouldn’t try again, and there’d be no need to share food or attention. Could it be that we’ve thrived ’cause we’re awful?
I’m not down on children. Really, I’m not. I’m not one of those, y’know, those people, always on about breeders and crotchfruit and…oh, God, that’s naff. I haven’t had kids because I’d be a terrible parent. But getting romantic with one in the house…let me put it this way: my parents’ room was next to mine. The wall was thin. I never once heard them fuck. Not that I was listening, but I was there, being annoying, killing their spark. In fact, you know what I did at night? I read in the dark. I’d do it till dawn, left to myself. Mother had to get up every hour and sneak down the hall to make sure I wasn’t reading. She had these creaky ankles that’d pop when she walked, so mostly, I knew she was coming. But once in a while, she softshoed on over, and that was the end of my fun.
Maybe that is why they put kids in romance books—to give new parents hope. To let them picture a life where they snuggle their tot, jump on their sweetheart, and he isn’t all “…you smell of strained peas.”
(Should I really admit I don’t understand what I’m writing? Oh, why not? No-one knows it’s me. It’s just…didn’t these things used to end with marriage? That seems more romantic, somehow, the idea they might enjoy a nice honeymoon, just the two of them, before they bust out the Diaper Genie.)
One day, I’ll get paid to write horror.
If there’s one thing I understand, it’s fear.