Sunday, June 29, 2014

Why I Love Radio

Judith Arnold

Some years ago, I wrote a romance novel called Going Back. In it, the heroine was ugly. She wasn’t just sort of adorably funny-looking, with untamed hair and a few cute freckles scattered across her nose. She didn’t have too-full lips, too-big eyes, too-lush curves—the sort of features most of us would kill (or pay a plastic surgeon) for, but which she considered flaws. She was full-bore ugly. She had bland, washed-out coloring. She wore thick eyeglasses. Every day was a bad hair day for her.

In those days, series romance fiction generally abided by certain rules, one of which was: The Heroine Must Be Pretty. She might not realize how pretty she was—she might fret over her too-big
eyes and too-lush curves—but she had to be appealing enough that the hero was staggered by her attractiveness from the first instant he glimpsed her. He might view her as his adversary, even his enemy, but oh, man, her appearance turned him on.

It troubled me that in Romance Fiction World, only gorgeous women got the guys. Didn’t ugly girls deserve true love, too? Not just true love—true love with a romance hero.

So I created Daphne Stoltz. She and Brad Torrance, the novel's classically handsome hero, had been college classmates, their social circles overlapping enough that during their college years, they’d both gotten drunk one night and had one of those ghastly, I’m-gonna-pretend-this-never-happened sexual encounters. Brad would never have looked twice at Daphne if he’d been sober. Daphne would never have done anything so stupid if she hadn’t just had her heart broken that day with the news that the boy she’d had a crush on her entire life had announced his engagement to her beautiful sister. Years after that humiliating occurrence, Daphne and Brad found themselves thrown together once more. Brad was as dazzlingly handsome as ever, and Daphne was…well, Daphne.

But eventually, they fell in love. Not because Daphne underwent a miraculous physical transformation. Not because Brad suddenly realized that she was, indeed, ravishingly beautiful and he’d just failed, for some reason, to notice this essential fact. No, they fell in love because they discovered they could trust each other in a way they could trust no one else. Because when they felt insecure, they could lean on each other. Because they could make each other laugh. Because they gave each other good advice. Because their friendship grew and deepened and became the best thing that had ever happened to either of them. Because when they finally decided to have sex, they found the experience infinitely more satisfying than that disastrous college interlude. In other words, because they found with each other all the things that really matter when it comes to love.

I adored Going Back when Harlequin Books originally published it—and so did more than a hundred thousand readers. Last year, when I got the rights back to the book, I reissued it in a digital edition so new generations of readers could celebrate what true love is all about. As Brad and Daphne learn, it’s not about appearances.

What does this have to do with why I love radio? When Going Back was first released, it generated quite a bit of buzz, which led to a radio interview. The interviewer asked me about the book, and
since Daphne’s appearance was central to the story, I described her. She was ugly. She was gawky. She had a pudgy nose and those nerdy eyeglasses. When the hero gazed into her eyes, he was reminded of the green olives in his mother’s martinis. I went on to discuss the power of romance novels, the joy readers experience in celebrating the triumph of love over seemingly insurmountable obstacles, the hope romance novels generate in a difficult, often cruel world. And then the interviewer asked, “So, do you model your heroines after yourself?”

Because it was radio, I could say, without missing a beat, “No. I’m beautiful.” On TV, I couldn’t have said that. Newspaper interview? There would have been a photographer snapping my photo. But radio? On the radio, everyone is beautiful!

As hero Brad eventually figures out in Going Back, Judith Arnold believes that love is the true source of beauty. She hopes you’ll enjoy Going Back, which is available at Amazon, Barnes& Noble, iTunes, Kobo and Smashwords. You can learn about her releases—and see a few untouched photos of her—at her web site . For more information about her upcoming titles, sign up for her newsletter.



  1. I' loved this post. So funny. And you make your heroine sound so appealing. PS I think you are beautiful.

  2. I loved this post, Judith! You write so beautifully, your ugly duckling heroine captivated me!

  3. My daughter, also an avid reader, and I were discussing this fascination with chiseled males and bountiful boobed babes in novels just a few days ago. "Where are the average, "normal" looking people, even the not-so pretty? Why doesn't anyone write about them?" I'm going to tell her about your book pronto! And, allow this to be a lesson for my own writing. Thanks for sharing.

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