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)



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

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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

New Rave Review for Love Is the Punch Line from Midwest Book Review’s Small Press Bookwatch (June 2018)

Love is the Punch Line
Kathleen Jones
Moonshine Cove Publishing
9781945181337, $13.99, PB, 268pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: 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.

Critique: A wildly entertaining read from beginning to end, “Love is the Punch Line” showcases author Kathleen Jones as a novelist with a genuine flair for originality and narrative driven fiction. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that “Love is the Punch Line” is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Free E-Book on LibraryThing!

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 June 29, 2018. For further information, go to: http://www.librarything.com/er/giveaway/list

Author Kathleen Jones Discusses Her Journey to Publish Her First Novel

On Tuesday, May 29, 2018, author Kathleen Jones, a “late bloomer” like her older characters Josh and Holly, discussed her journey to publish her first novel, Love Is the Punch Line, at the Ontario Society of Senior Citizens Organizations office in Toronto, Ontario. The publication of her novel was a 50-year-old dream for Kathleen.

Kathleen talked about the steps she took to get published, and shared tips with other budding late-in-life novelists. The talk was followed by a book sale and signing. About 15 people attended the session.

Below: Author Kathleen Jones at the OSSCO event in Toronto on May 29, 2018.


New 5-Star Review for Love Is the Punch Line on Amazon.ca

5.0 out of 5 stars Sharp relationship observations

By Allister N. Thompson on May 10, 2018

Format: Paperback

This is a novel that contains both wit and genuine emotion. It’s also quite realistic in many ways, as the romance between Holly and Josh has many ups and downs, and the appearance and age of the protagonists are a refreshing from the stereotypes usually found in fiction with an romantic theme. The novel is both funny and heartwarming, and it also provides an interesting window into the entertainment world, particularly the lives of comedians. If any of above sounds interesting to you, you should not miss this well-written novel.