When you finish writing a time travel novel, and realize you really wrote a romance novel

“When you finish writing a time travel novel, and realize you really wrote a romance novel” – Brian Paone

                Every day of the three years it took to me to write my new novel, “Yours Truly, 2095,” I believed that I was writing a time-travel conspiracy mystery story. Never once did the word romance ever cross my mind. Sure, I had a strong female protagonist that seemed to dictate the mood of every scene. Sure she was struggling with her blossoming love for the time-traveling hero of the story. Sure, he was even wrestling with his feelings toward her at well. But, nope. I was writing a time travel story, straight up.

                About six weeks before the book was published, I started advertising heavily. This was my time travel masterpiece. That was the only genre I could even think of. The book came out, and the reviews started pouring in… for my time travel romance novel!


                I laughed at the first review that specifically described the book as a romance novel. Then I chuckled at the second review that viewed the book as a romance novel. Then I lightly snickered at the third reviewer that dissected the book as a romance novel. Then I was looking blankly at my laptop screen when the fourth positive review was posted… for my new romance time travel novel.

                I still wouldn’t conform to using the term “romance”. Or even admit that I had, in essence, written a romance novel that just happened to have some time travel as a subplot.

                “Hey Brian, I see your new novel came out. What is it about?”

                “It’s a time travel mystery story.” (Queue sounds of sipping on a Starbucks coffee cup here.)

                Check some more reviews. More reviews actually using the word “romance.”

                It was time to get a professional opinion. I went to see my friend, published romance author Kim Loraine, who had helped proofread the final draft of my book. I had to pick up my lower lip and jaw from the floor when she said, “Oh yeah. You wrote a romance novel.”

                After I paperclipped my bottom lip back to my face, I started thinking about the central core conflict of the novel. Was it time travel, or was it the pursuit of happiness between the three main characters? A man, his wife, and a possible lover. My knee jerked as I yelled, “But he travels in time between 1981 and 2095! It’s a time travel novel! There is daily commuting to a big city on the moon, there are hovercars, there are…”

                She interrupted me by saying, “And would you NOT call The Time Traveler’s Wife a romance novel?”

                I slowly walked away. I had to rethink everything I thought about a book I had written myself. It seemed that my own perception of my own novel was completely skewed. I thought checking some more reviews online would make me feel better. “Great romance novel with twists at every turn…”


                I needed a drink. I didn’t know if I was ready to commit to the idea that I had really written a romance novel.

                The music in the bar was loud. He had to yell to talk to me.

                “Hey Brian!! Good to see you!!! I see your new novel came out! What is it about?!”

                “It’s a time travel romance book!” (Queue sounds of sipping on an adult beverage.)

                And that’s how I wrote my first romance novel.

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