February 14, 2002

Romance Novelist Talks at Tompkins County Library

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A small but enthusiastic crowd of twenty greeted romance author Stephanie Mittman as she began her talk at the Tompkins County library yesterday night. Mittman, the author of eight novels and an Ithaca resident, spoke about romance, writing and the publishing business.


After describing her love for Ithaca and Cornell, her husband’s alma mater, Mittman spoke about her writing process.

She said that at first, writing a novel is “so exciting – like moving to a new town.”

However, after a short time, she said “[the characters] start determining their own futures.” At that point, “All hell breaks loose.”

Mittman stressed the importance of dedication in writing.


“Talent might get your first book done, talent might get your first book published,” Mittman said. However, without persistence, she warned, mere talent will not get a writer very far.

“You can have a little talent and a lot of perseverance and do a fine job in the writing field,” she added.

Mittman also discussed the benefits of writing.

“I have the best job in the world – it’s to make people happy,” she said.

Mittman described the “seven essential elements” of a romance novel.

“You need a wonderful heroine … she doesn’t have to be a doormat, in fact, now she’s not allowed to be.”

Other elements include a hero, a terrible hindrance to the relationship, and the requisite happy ending.

Despite these rules, Mittman believes that people unjustly stereotype the romance genre.

“It’s no more formulaic than any other kind of fiction …. All genre fiction is basically a morality play,” she said. “I believe a lot of the stigma of romance writing is that it’s for women, by women.”

After speaking about the difficulties in publishing faced by a romance writer, Mittman explained why she chose stop writing romance novels.

“Romance novels are centered on the hero and the heroine and their relationship … I think that there are so many more fascinating relationships in the world.” she said. “I just felt confined by [romance novels].”

Mittman ended her lecture with a reading from “Teddy’s Complex,” her current novel.

Responding positively, the audience seemed more than pleased with the lecture.

Pat White, an Ithaca resident, said she likes romances because “They’re about people … They’ve got conflict in them, but they have a happy ending.”

“I wasn’t expecting a laugh,” she said, commenting on her expectations for the lecture. “It was much, much better [than I expected].”

“She’s so funny … and she’s so truthful,” said Sarah Glogowski, the librarian who planned the event.

Glogowski noted that Mittman was part of the library’s new program initiative.

“[The library has] been looking to do more programs this year – writers are a big draw,” Glogowski said.

Archived article by Shannon Brescher