Do Authors Base Romantic Novels on Real Relationships?


I’ve often wondered whether authors base their romantic novels on real relationships in their pasts.

In my case, the answer is yes. A relationship I had with a boy in middle school (he was 12 years old and I was 11!) inspired me to write my own romantic novel. Even though 45 years have passed, I still cherish fond memories of this larger than life character: tall, darkly handsome, whip smart and, most importantly of all, funny. AND this handsome and smart boy used his wonderful gift for humour to flirt with me!

Virtually every afternoon for three or four months, he would walk home from school with me, always trying his hardest to make me laugh, creating cute nicknames for me and devising amusing songs about me, often snatching the little round green leather hat off my head (it was mid-winter) and kicking it across the street like a football.

I didn’t mind the teasing at all; it was good-natured, he made me laugh, and he was so gorgeous, with his curly dark hair, big brown eyes, and freckles. I looked forward to our afternoon walks home, and wrote about him in my diary every night. I still have that diary, filled with his witty comments, its cloth cover awash in the wild psychedelic colours that were so trendy in 1971.

By the end of the school year in June, he had stopped paying attention to me. He was Jewish, my mom told me, and his family probably didn’t want him to get involved with a Christian girl. Sigh.

For the next four decades, I was haunted by memories of this boy. He was such a unique individual with such a big personality, and I’ve never met anyone else like him. Then one day in early 2013, I had an important insight: unique personalities like my former boyfriend belong in novels!

Of course, nobody wants to read about the “puppy love” of two pre-teens. Well, maybe pre-teens do, but I was now in my 50’s . . . so I aged the two of us by 40 years. I kept my former boyfriend’s marvellous sense of humour but transformed him from a class clown to a professional stand-up comedian. I also kept his Jewishness; it’s an important part of who he is.

Once I established the character of the comedian, it was easy to spin a romantic tale around him and to create a host of other characters, especially the non-Jewish heroine (you’ll never guess who I based her on!). The rest of the novel is pure fantasy, the result of my overactive imagination run amuck (and some research), but its core, its heart, is the sweet relationship between a funny, outgoing boy and a shy, studious girl over four decades ago.

Want to Read More?

Finish author Helena Halme transformed her real-life romance with an English naval officer into a romantic novel The Englishman: http://selfpublishingadvice.org/writing-how-to-turn-your-life-into-a-novel/

Have you based a novel that you’ve written on a real past romantic relationship? Please post your comments.

photo credit: Inseparable via photopin (license)




Posted by Malcolm Campbell on Goodreads, July 4, 2018


“The seductive tale of a washed up Jewish standup comedian. He falls for a lovely gal who has thrown a drink in his face during a routine. The captivating tale of their torturous path to happiness.”



Book Launch for “Love Is the Punch Line”

Kathleen Jones, author of Love Is the Punch Line, recently celebrated the release of her novel at a launch party. At the event, held at Bloor-Gladstone public library in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on June 9, 2018, Kathleen talked about her journey to become a published author, then did a brief reading from her novel. She was joined by a dozen friends and colleagues, including Jenny Govier, the novel’s substantive and line editor.


Staying in with Kathleen Jones

Love is the punchline

(See https://lindasbookbag.com/2018/06/25/staying-in-with-kathleen-jones/)

Once again I’m finding whole new books and authors here on Linda’s Book Bag. This time it’s Kathleen Jones who joins me to stay in and tell me about one of her books.

Staying in with Kathleen Jones

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Kathleen. Thank you for staying in with me.

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

Love is the punchline

I’ve brought along my new novel, Love Is the Punch Line, which was published by Moonshine Cove in April. It’s a quirky, lighthearted romance set in the world of stand-up comedy. I brought it along to show “women of a certain age” that romance should not stop after age 40.

(Too right! As someone fast approaching 60 I can quite agree with that premise for a book!)

What can we expect from an evening in with  Love Is the Punch Line?

You can expect an evening of hilarious comedy from a real legend, Josh Steinberg, the “Jewish Comedy King.” Even though he’s over 50, plump, balding, and washed up, Josh is still revered by die-hard comedy fans, who appreciate his edgy sense of humour.

You’ll also meet Josh’s woman, Holly Brannigan, a slim, attractive, and bright 50-year-old businesswoman. Unlike the other women in Josh’s past who haven’t treated him well, the smart and sensitive Holly is crazy about Josh and even finds his unconventional looks wildly sexy. No wonder Josh calls her “Holly the Brain.”

(I’m smiling already. I love the sound of Josh and Holly.)

By meeting Josh, I hope that people will learn that no matter what a person looks like on the outside, he or she deserves a chance to spend their life with someone who truly loves and cares about them. And I hope that men who meet Holly will learn to value a woman’s brains, as well as her looks. After all, the brain is the biggest sex organ!

(Very true! My husband has a Ph.D!)

Finally, I hope that older people who haven’t found that special person will give romance another chance. You just never know!

(What a wonderful sentiment, Kathleen.)

What else have you brought along and why?


I brought along the script that Josh wrote for his comeback movie, It Only Hurts When I Laugh. Holly talked him into writing it, telling him that he had the talent to write a script about real life and real people; in the past, Josh had written mediocre movie scripts that were only collections of silly gags. Buoyed by her belief in him, Josh ended up writing a romantic script about two characters who resembled himself and Holly!

Thanks so much for staying in with me to tell me all about Love is the Punchline Kathleen. I’ve enjoyed hearing about Josh and Holly.

Love is the Punch Line

Love is the punchline

He courted her with punchlines.

Middle-aged stand-up comedian Josh Steinberg, formerly the star of his own popular TV series, finds himself struggling to keep his career alive, playing seedier and seedier clubs. Plump, balding, and plain-looking, he has never had much luck with women. That is, until Josh meets Holly Brannigan while performing his stand-up act in a comedy club. Holly, an attractive, intelligent, and divorced 50-year-old businesswoman, becomes instantly smitten with Josh and even finds his unconventional looks wildly sexy.

Love is the Punch Line is available for purchase from Amazon and Indigo Books.

About Kathleen Jones


Kathleen Jones is a former book editor and technical writer. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in English literature and completed Ryerson University’s Certificate in Publishing program. Kathleen writes for a number of popular book blogs, including Romance Junkies and the blogs of Jane Friedman and British novelist Tony Riches. She also contributes monthly book reviews to Goodreads. Kathleen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

You can find out more about Kathleen on her website and by finding her on Facebook or following her on Twitter @joneslepidas.

Another Rave Review for Love Is the Punch Line

Reviewer: The Genre Minx Book Reviews
Every day struggles are realistically portrayed
 Format: Kindle Edition
Love is the Punch Line is a quirky romance that follows the career of stand-up comedian Josh Steinberg. I’d have to say what I appreciated the most about this story was that as much as I might have disagreed with his treatment of Holly Brannigan and their ups and downs throughout the story, everything that took place was very realistic. I even appreciated that Holly’s friends and family all felt that the situation with Josh was dysfunctional at best. We have all had that friend who made choices that made us shake our heads and make our bets on its success but somehow they work everything out, Love is the Punch Line is that kind of story.

Josh has been unlucky in love on every level, the main reason being that the only women he ever met were the kind who were looking to trade in on his fame. Of course, it was not like Josh was looking for anything beyond the glitz of Hollywood either. Now he is on the downward slope of fame and has been having one reality check after another and he is struggling not to end up as a washed-up comedian. It was during one of his comedy routines where he was feeling rather angry at the world and in particular women when he came across Holly. Although their first meeting was not love at first sight, in fact Josh had rather insulted Holly and she retaliated by throwing a drink in his face (you go, girl).

Holly had not had the best of luck with love and went to a comedy club one night in order to try and cheer herself up. She had no idea that the comedian was going to be Josh Steinberg and although she had never found him to be attractive on TV, in real life she found that she rather liked the look of the comedian. Unfortunately, his routine didn’t cheer her up at all, she found it rather upsetting to consider how hurt he had been by women. Though, when an incident occurred that brought Josh right to her, she immediately reconsidered her stance on him because he was a class “A” jerk. After their very loud and very public argument Holly pulled herself together and was preparing to leave. What she did not expect was that Josh would seek her out to offer her a slice of humble pie and apologize for his behavior. Holly herself felt that she could have handled things better as well and they both made amends and this started a conversation which would lead to a more intimate encounter.

Although both Holly and Josh were looking for love, Josh was not willing to trust that Holly was sincere in her interest in him. His self-esteem was so low that he could not conceive that someone as beautiful and kind as her could really want what he had to offer. Even though he may not have had faith in her, he did not want to let her go either. Holly for her part was willing to go to great lengths to prove to Josh that she was not like all the others, but she too had a certain point in which she felt that enough was enough. While trying to explore a serious relationship, Josh was also trying to salvage his career. With ups and downs and meltdowns in-between, Josh would learn that there was more to life than the adoration of Hollywood and that maybe, just maybe, there was more to him that he had never appreciated before.

For me, this was not a romance that would ever make me swoon. I am just not into male characters who are very sensitive and struggle with self-esteem issues but I did find Love is the Punch Line to be a refreshing romance because the choices these characters made and the issues they struggled with are very real for many people. No relationship is perfect and sometimes things can get ugly and chaotic but then there are those moments where it can be almost magical and that is what keeps the relationship going. It was also nice that this was a romance between two older adults and that careers, children, and family did come into play, especially Josh’s career which was also how he identified his success in life. A lot of times real life and every day struggles are not realistically portrayed in fiction but in Love is the Punch Line, it does not hold back the punches and I think that many readers would appreciate the ups and downs that occur on this rollercoaster of love.

This review is based on a complimentary book I received from Author, Kathleen Jones. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.

New Rave Review for Love Is the Punch Line from Blogger Christopher Long!!!

June 2018 book review from entertainment blogger Christopher Long

BOOK REVIEW: “Love is the Punch Line” – Kathleen Jones

Love is the Punch Line
– Kathleen Jones –
(Moonshine Cove Publishing)
In the spirit of full disclosure, I must confess that I don’t exactly fit the target audience demographic for romantic chick lit. However, my interest was piqued when I first discovered Love is the Punch Line, the debut novel from Canadian author, Kathleen Jones.
From the get-go, I found the premise intriguing — an abrasive, insecure aging comedian (Josh Steinberg) connects with an attractive, feisty, middle-aged businesswoman (Holly Brannigan) during one of his stand-up nightclub gigs. Driven by non-stop romantic tension, sparks fly between the “Jewish King of Comedy” and “Holly the Brain” throughout this light, quirky, and unlikely love story.
In sum, Jones writes from the heart, delivering an engaging, entertaining read — a romantic roller-coaster ride from start to finish.
Christopher Long
(June 2018)

New Interview With Kathleen Jones, Author of “Love Is the Punch Line,” on Toronto.com


Q&A: First-time Toronto author aims to twist romcom genre

Kathleen Jones fulfils childhood dream of becoming a novelist

Kathleen Jones

Toronto resident Kathleen Jones is the author of Love is the Punch Line. – Dan Pearce/Metroland

Love Is The Punch Line

Love is the Punch Line by Kathleen Jones. – Dan Pearce/Metroland

1 / 2

Ever since Kathleen Jones was in Grade 2, she has always wanted to write a novel.

But her dream never came true — until now.

In April, the 58-year-old Victoria Park and Eglinton area resident’s first novel, Love is the Punch Line, was published.

The midlife romantic comedy tells the story of a washed-up 54-year-old comedian’s relationship with a 50-year-old businesswoman.

I’m not trying to stay within a genre; I’m just trying to write the best and most interesting story I can come up with. — Kathleen Jones, author of “Love is the Punch Line.”Jones sat down with Metroland Media Toronto recently for an interview about her book and new career.

It has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: How did you become an author?

A: I was always good at writing stories but the problem was when I graduated university, I knew how to make a living and I knew it was hard to make a living as a fiction writer. Also I was just too intimidated to try, so I put it off and until midlife and worked instead as an editor at a number of Canadian book publishers. In my mid-40s, I decided to try writing again. I wrote a novel part-time and it wasn’t any good, so I gave up. Then in my early 50s, I had this idea for a novel … this took about three-and-a-half years and by this time I was in my mid-50s. The company where I was working offered me an early retirement package and I took it because my dream was to write.

Q: Where did you come up with the idea for this novel?

A: When I was in middle school, I had a romance with a Jewish boy. I didn’t date him, but he used to flirt with me by making fun of me but I knew he was flirting. He was the class clown, so I guess at some point I thought this personality would be a great basis for a novel. I let my imagination go and before long I changed him from a 12-year-old class clown to a middle age standup comedian.

Q: What do you enjoy about writing?

A: It’s fun to let my imagination go. It’s fun to express what I feel and think and create characters.

Q: What are your goals as an author?

A: I’m trying to come up with stories that are fresh and original. I try to be as honest as possible in the novels … I’m not trying to stay within a genre; I’m just trying to write the best and most interesting story I can come up with.

Aaron D'Andrea

by Aaron D’Andrea

Aaron D’Andrea is a reporter with Metroland Media Toronto. He can be reached at adandrea@toronto.com . Follow him on Twitter and Toronto.com on Facebook

Email: adandrea@metroland.com