It was last year, if I recall accurately, with reference to a meme promoting the 2nd Filipino Reader Conference when I posted this lengthy blog entry about my high school obsession: Sweet Dreams romance novels. It was then when I discovered that Filipino author Mina V. Esguerra – whom I’ve had the pleasure of personally meeting a couple of years back at the very 1st Filipino ReaderCon – also read the series during her high school years. I think not a few Twitter conversations transpired after that, discussing our favorite Sweet Dreams titles and authors, and how expensive copies are at Amazon (skyrocketing!) because they’ve gone out of print and are already considered collector’s items.
And so what better topic to ask Mina to write about for a guest post than her favorite Sweet Dreams novels, and how they inspired her to begin her writing career?
How Sweet Dreams started it all for me
Mina V. Esguerra
It can't be helped, I think. When you're young and start trying to write, you'll inevitably mold your first stories after the ones you like to read. And when I was starting out as a writer, I read a lot of Sweet Dreams.
Sweet Dreams, in case you're too young to know this, was a popular US series of high school romance novellas. Each novella was a standalone story (there were sequels and spin-offs, but very few), and a new title from a different author would be released the following month. By the time I discovered it there were dozens of titles out, and high school for me became about getting the latest one and catching up on what I missed.
Here are some of my favorites, and you might still be able to find them in a Book Sale or something:
Wrong-Way Romance by Sheri Cobb South
Darby and Bruce meet during a not-so-serious car accident. She immediately hates him, but finds herself pretending to be his girlfriend to scare off another guy. Easily my favorite of all the titles in this series that I've read.
The Popularity Plan by Rosemary Vernon
One of the first titles I read, one about a shy girl who makes it into her school's A list thanks to her friends' "Popularity Plan" -- but of course she didn't need to do all of that to get the attention of the quiet art class guy she really liked.
The Right Combination by Jahnna Beecham
Alexandra is new in school and it's not going well. Then she gets assigned to share a locker with hunky but infuriating Kris, and it's neverending banter and arguing.
This was a wonderful thing to stumble upon, for someone who would eventually write romances. Because the longevity of this series just proved right at the start for me that there were so many stories to tell! Can you do a boy-meets-girl story set in a high school over two hundred times? Well apparently you can, because there are so many ways to tweak the formula, and so many ways to write it.
Though I enjoyed these books, most (if not all) actually didn't reflect my high school experience exactly. Even my favorite, Wrong-Way Romance, started out with the premise of two sixteen-year-olds driving cars -- not something I and most of my friends had ever experienced. So when I started writing romances, that was my goal. How could I tell a similar story but make it familiar and true to my experience? I write contemporary romances with characters older than sixteen now, but the boy-meets-girl dynamic, the character types, and the happy fuzzy feelings at the end are all reminiscent of Sweet Dreams. Or my interpretation anyway.
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, she documents her experiments in epublishing.
When not writing romance, she is president of communications firm Bronze Age Media, development communication consultant, indie publisher, professional editor, wife, and mother. She created the workshop series “Author at Once” and #romanceclass for writers and publishers.
Thank you, Book Junkie Blog Tours, for hosting this blog tour!