You Gotta Lotta ’Splainin’ To Do, Donna McDonald

I thought you’d like to know not just what I think about some other writers’ work, but also what they think back.

Donna’s a fervent ManWARrior who’s authored six iconoclastic romances. I shot her a couple of prompts and asked her to ’splain. And while it says in the title she hadda lotta ’splainin’ to do, I limited her ’splanations to two hundred words.

ManWAR is about my learning the “rules” of romance. You seem to be doing very well breaking rules. For example, your protagonists are over 40 and one of them gets pregnant by a man who’s married to another woman.

I wasn’t always a rebel. Agents and publishers rejected my stories about older characters saying they wouldn’t sell. There were sub-genre lines about the over 40 group, but one publisher said my sex scenes were too hot for older people. Boy, have I got some emails to show them. Readers write all the time to thank me.

Making the heroine older than the hero was actually an okay rule to break, but I also make them wealthier, which is supposed to make a woman less appealing. I guess if a woman has money, why does she need a man? I don’t understand the thinking. My experience says it’s not true. My heroes don’t care.

The storyline in Dating a Saint made me very nervous when I released it. For me, it was a test from the Muses to see what kind of writer I was going to be. I have more details in a Q&A blog about what inspired the risk. That story hovers on the edge of becoming some other kind of book. I kept it a romance by using loads of humor, lots of sex scenes, and the hardest, most satisfying happily-ever-after I’ve written to date.

If we’re going to talk about breaking rules, I broke the BIG one when I pulled up my big girl panties and published my work all by myself.

An article by another successful author said protagonists should never be satisfied with their bodies, but just not care what others think. Your protagonists go a step further by regarding their “body issues” not as stemming from something “wrong” with them, but from something wrong with societal attitudes.

If you ever hear a woman say she loves everything about her body, copious quantities of drugs or alcohol are involved. Females are socialized to be modest (find fault), because liking your body (not finding fault)—well, gee, that would be bragging, right?

If I created an older heroine who didn’t admit to having at least some age-related issues, readers would not find me credible. Why? Clothing ads for older women contain models that look like clones of Alexa, the hot ex-model of Dating a Cougar. Where are the 5-foot-tall models or the size 12 or larger ones? They exist, just not as role models.

I’m in the process of creating a 40-year-old, divorced, size 14 heroine whose ex had problems with her weight. In my recently published book The Right Thing, the hero’s 72-year-old father experiences E.D.

Perfection is subjective. I write about the challenges real people face. I think the author of the article you mention is right, but starting a new physical relationship can highlight body issues. It takes time to get to the point of not caring what others think.

Good stuff. And, as a bonus, she used my new all-time favorite word, “panties.”

Click to find out more about or buy Donna’s books.

3 thoughts on “You Gotta Lotta ’Splainin’ To Do, Donna McDonald”

  1. It takes one to know one, right? I mean, MAN writing romance?
    Donna is not only a rebel, she's a freedom fighter. Why should a handful of people in New York tell writers what they can or cannot write and dictate to readers what they are supposed to want to read?
    Thanks, Dave, for giving Donna a chance to 'splain. And for being a rebel yourself.

  2. Many thanks Dave for the interview. Blessings on your house and work. I will happily return the favor at a time that works for you.

    Regarding the degree of "rule breaking" in my books, I have decided it is accidental for the romance genre, but intentional for my older characters. Many of the old rules didn't work for telling complicated stories from the perspective of people who had lived at least twice as long as the much younger, less experienced romance characters.

    I also consider it fun and flattering to have gone from being considered "St. Donna" in my thirties to being considered a "rule breaker" in my fifties.

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