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)



Meet Author Kathleen Jones At The Word On the Street!!!

Here is the updated map for The Word On the Street. Kathleen will be selling copies of her novel Love Is the Punch Line from Booth 346 (at lower left in the map).

Location: The Word on The Street, Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West, Toronto

Date: Sunday, September 23, 2018

Time: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Festival features the best selection of Canadian books and magazines you’ll find anywhere, as well as hundreds of author readings and activities. Admission is free. For further information: https://thewordonthestreet.ca/toronto/


Posted on Goodreads, September 16, 2018: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37507307-love-is-the-punch-line?from_search=true

Love is the Punch Line, Kathleen Jones’ debut novel, is not your average romance.

Straying from the tried and tested formula of two young, beautiful, perfect people overcoming a series of challenges and rivals on the path to true love, Kathleen gives us a relationship that feels a lot closer to the real world. The story revolves around Josh, an aging comedian on a steep downward career curve, peddling weak material at obscure comedy clubs – a world away from his past as a successful sitcom star. Josh is self-obsessed, depressed, and consumed with doubt over both his comedy and his unattractive appearance. When he meets Holly, a Canadian business woman, there are early hints that she could be his salvation – but both of them are damaged from previous failed relationships and prone to overreact to every little setback that comes their way. At times it’s hard to like either character, but that adds to the sense that this book reflects real life, where few people can remain consistently likeable in their most difficult moments.

A string of mishaps and misunderstandings conspires to keep the couple apart as the novel progresses, and we are kept guessing as to their eventual fate until the finals chapters. The book is an enjoyable ride, but touches on serious themes such as depression, suicide, and body image. Recommended if you want a romance that goes beyond the norm.


Kathleen Jones, author of Love Is the Punch Line, will be selling copies of her novel at The Word on the Street, Toronto’s largest book and magazine festival:

Location: The Word on The Street, Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West, Toronto

Where you’ll find Kathleen: Booth 346a, Love Is the Punch Line

Date: Sunday, September 23, 2018

Time: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Festival features the best selection of Canadian books and magazines you’ll find anywhere, as well as hundreds of author readings and activities. Admission is free. For further information: https://thewordonthestreet.ca/toronto/


Author Kathleen Jones will be signing copies of her novel Love Is the Punch Line.

Where: IndigoSpirit, First Canadian Place, 100 King Street West, Toronto
When: Wednesday, September 26, 2018, 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm.

Can’t make the signing? Copies of the novel are available at IndigoSpirit NOW!!! Hours: Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

New 5-Star Review for Love Is the Punch Line!!!

Posted by Laura B on Amazon.ca, August 8, 2018:

Great writing! Really enjoyed the story of an up and down and up again love affair and everything in between.



Love Is the Punch Line Is Now Available at Book City!!!

Save on shipping charges! Support a local author! Purchase your copy of Love Is the Punch Line at the Danforth branch of Toronto’s biggest bookstore chain.

  • Location: 348 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON, Canada, on the north side of Danforth, one block west of Chester subway in the Carrot Common Building.
Phone: 416-469-9997
  • Parking: Free on side streets; meter parking on Danforth; municipal lot off Chester; meter parking at the Carrot Common
TTC: One minute walk from Chester Subway Station at the Carrot Common
  • Hours: 
Mon 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, 
Tues – Sat 10:00 am to 9:00 pm
; Sun 11:00 am to 5:00 pm

Free E-Book on LibraryThing Until Sept. 30, 2018!!!

LibraryThing members (it’s free to join LibraryThing!) can request a FREE copy of the e-book version of Love Is the Punch Line in return for a review. The ebooks will be delivered by email. We are giving away these books to increase the impact of the message of the book but also to get more reviews online.  Reviews on Amazon, GoodReads and LibraryThing are appreciated. Please choose the ebook format you prefer: .epub or .mobi,

Once you’ve read the book, please post your reviews on:

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Love-Punch-Line-Kathleen-Jones/dp/1945181338/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528033609&sr=8-1&keywords=love+is+the+punch+line

Amazon.ca: https://www.amazon.ca/Love-Punch-line-Kathleen-Jones/dp/1945181338/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528033667&sr=8-1&keywords=love+is+the+punch+line

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37507307-love-is-the-punch-line?from_search=true

LibraryThing: http://www.librarything.com/work/20782804/book/149152577

Description: 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.

The lonely and vulnerable Josh soon falls in love with Holly, even though she’s not the statuesque type he usually goes for. But Josh, terrified of being hurt and discarded by yet another woman, hides his true feelings for Holly by making fun of her in his stand-up act. And Holly, taking Josh’s words to heart, starts to wonder if she means anything to him at all.

 Offer ends September 30, 2018. For further information, go to: http://www.librarything.com/er/giveaway/list