Writing Genre Fiction That Challenges Reader Expectations [GUEST POST]

Every writer has a different end goal in mind. (Photo courtesy Canva)

I’ve loved reading romance books my whole life, even before I knew what they were. When I was eight, I wrote fan fiction of the movie Labyrinth where Jareth and Sarah get together. Basically, I love romance stories because there’s something so satisfying about following two characters through to their happily ever after.

When I started actually writing romance books, though, I didn’t want to contribute to some of the things I believe can be harmful in the genre. I didn’t want to romanticise abusive relationships, or write stereotypes that grossly misrepresent the people you’re writing about.

I didn’t want my characters to be cookie cutter people, either. I didn’t want to write a character who just checks off a bunch of boxes to fit an archetype so that I can write a trope that fits the narrative. I wanted them to be real people with real emotions that are reflective of how people would actually react in a situation.

I recently got some feedback from a reader that I think is my favorite feedback to date:

“I gravitate towards books with a confirmed HEA, no cheating, and books with a super alpha guy who becomes possessive of his girl. I know that it is usually unrealistic and in real life, would constitute an unhealthy possessive relationship.

I personally know and understand how messy relationships can be, but I always hope my one won’t be a manwhore while he is with me. I think that is why your books strike a chord with me. It challenges my view and forces me to confront the possibilities that love can be messy and ugly; that the possessive, alpha guy may not be realistic.”

Your books strike a chord with me. It challenges my view and forces me to confront the possibilities that love can be messy.

Anonymous reader

Words can’t describe how happy getting this feedback made me. It is deeply satisfying to know that my books resonate with people, but to have someone tell me that I basically achieved my goal of challenging some of those more problematic themes in the romance genre was amazing.

Because life is messy and ugly. If two characters are in a toxic relationship, they shouldn’t be together. They should break up, seek help from a mental health professional, and only get back together if they can actually be in a healthy relationship. Which is actually what happens in two of my stories, so far!

Books are art and art should reflect life, so characters should be as complex and diverse as people actually are. Which means that we shouldn’t expect them to be perfect people just because they happen to be in a romance novel.

I love writing real, beautifully flawed characters who struggle with their emotions and situations the same way anyone else would. And I love challenging reader expectations within the romance genre, because a happily ever after is always better if it took a full box of tissues to get there!

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Sian Ceinwen's GABRIEL'S ALBUM
Sian Ceinwen

The rock star always gets the girl…

I’m living my dream. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a rock star. And now here I am, about to start my first big tour, when she comes along.


From the second we meet, she’s all I can think about.Asking her to come on tour with me is easy. But she’s shy, insecure, and the paparazzi scare her. We live in two completely different worlds.

I love her and I know that she’s worth fighting for. The problem is, I’m not sure if love is enough.

Gabriel’s Album is the first book in the Cruise Control Heroes series. It’s the companion novel to The Album. Fall in love with Gabriel and Ariana all over again as Cruise Control embarks on their first world tour. 

Sian Ceinwen
Sian Ceinwen


Sian Ceinwen is the author of the Cruise Control novels The Baby and The Wedding. Her latest novel, Gabriel’s Album, retells Gabriel and Ariana’s story found in last year’s The Album from Gabriel’s point of view.

She has enjoyed writing all her life, and getting the worlds and characters in her head down for other people to enjoy is her passion. Still, writing a book isn’t something she ever thought she could really do until she was inspired by a song and received lots of coaxing from her friends to finish the book so they could find out the ending. So she set out to do it.

Sian lives in Western Australia with her husband and two children. She hopes readers fall in love with the Cruise Control world the same way that she has.

To find out more, visit CruiseControlNovels.com and make sure you sign up for Sian’s newsletter. You can also like Sian on Facebook, and follow her on Goodreads, Instagram, and Twitter.

By Sian Ceinwen
398 pp. Sian Ceinwen. $19.99.

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Order Gabriel’s Album from Amazon.

Gabriel’s Album is brought to you in association with Xpresso Book Tours.

About Sian Ceinwen
Sian Ceinwen is the author of the Cruise Control series, including Gabriel's Album, The Baby, The Wedding, and The Album. She lives in Western Australia with her husband and two children.

One Response to Writing Genre Fiction That Challenges Reader Expectations [GUEST POST]

  1. Giselle says:

    Thanks for being on the tour! 🙂

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