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Oklahoma’s writers of romantic fiction are a new breed.

Sarah Lobban May 29th, 2013

Callie Hutton had always flirted with a career in writing.

She spent years working for magazines, conducting interviews and writing articles. Later, she took a job in New York for a business’ corporate communications department. And until about four years ago, Hutton worked in the archives department at the Oklahoma Department of Libraries.

Then she fell in love. It was a chance meeting. She attended a panel discussion of a group of romance authors, and it ignited a spark.

“I sat there listening to the authors, and I thought, ‘I can do this,’” Hutton said. “I started my first book not long after that. Eventually, I ... began writing full-time.”

She has been writing romance novels ever since.

Although her books are set everywhere from Regency-era England to the Oregon Trail, most take place in Oklahoma, which Hutton — president of the Oklahoma chapter of Romance Writers of America — calls her adopted state.

Her “Oklahoma Lovers” series has three books so far: A Run for Love, A Wife by Christmas and A Prescription for Love, with two more planned. The first novel is set in the 1889 Land Run, while the others follow the lives of the heroine’s adopted nieces and nephews as they grow up and find love of their own.

Outdated notions of bodice-ripper stories continue to fuel some misconceptions about romantic fiction, said Hutton. But make no mistake: These are not your mother’s novels.

“Once, it was all about submissive women who were happy to have their knight in shining armor rescue them,” she said. “Today’s romance reader wants a strong heroine, someone who can stand on her own two feet but is a better person for having the hero in her life.”

This is proving to be a prolific year for Hutton. The Elusive Wife, a Regency romance, was published this month. Another due in July is set in Tulsa but ends up in Kansas, with a time-traveling twist.

Another notable figure in Oklahoma romance-writing, Sharon Sala, has more than 85 books in print. She has written in multiple genres, including young adult, Western and women’s fiction.

To romance fans, however, she is best known for the many novels she penned under the name Dinah McCall. Her latest book, ’Til Death, the final novel in her Rebel Ridge trilogy, is now available.

Sala said life in the state has influenced her writing.

“I understand the difficulties of rural life and celebrate the pioneer spirit that still resounds within the state,” she said.

While romance books arguably are all about the happily-ever-after, Hutton said she hopes to inspire beginning writers to launch their careers.

“I hope to meet a lot of people who aren’t necessarily familiar with my books, as well as some new readers and new fans,” she said. “It’s always fun to get to encourage people.”

 
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