by Madelle Morgan
What do you do when you’re a closet romance writer in a male-dominated profession and your first romance is published?
Back then I, a senior professional engineer and manager, had not informed my own employees, boss, colleagues nor industry clients that I wrote romance (and never intended to).
THEN (drum roll…)
Soon after the print version became available, an amazing opportunity arose to sell copies of my debut romantic suspense Diamond Lust at my workplace annual charity fund-raising event. The offer included posters of my book cover plastered beside elevators throughout the 2,000 employee complex. Dozens of those employees were geologists, mining industry scientists and technologists — the ideal target audience for a novel about diamond mining in Canada’s far north.
BUT (cue sad violin music…)
A manager needs respect, right? I’d acquired hard won credentials to counteract male chauvinism that had dogged me throughout my career. I’d been called Blondie, hit on in my younger, thinner days, and in two different jobs was assigned to a two man survey crew as a superfluous third until I proved myself, when I had exactly the same expertise as my male classmates.
Madelle at 22
One summer I assisted two civil engineering professors with surveying and water samples in a remote area.
One of them said to me, “I wouldn’t allow my daughter to do this work.” What did he expect the women in his classes to do with their degrees – sit at home and build bridges with Lego?
In 1987 I was the first woman in Canada to graduate from a civil engineering Master’s degree program in Construction Project Management. While searching for a new job, with five years of project experience and a construction boom underway, I was repeatedly fed the line, “We’re not hiring at this time.” At a very brief job interview a condo construction company executive asked, “What will you do with your child?” Apparently he’d never heard of daycare. I didn’t get the job.
Needless to say, for decades I only exhibited my logical, analytical left brain self at work in order to claw my way up the pay scale in line with male counterparts. I hid my creative ultra-feminine writer alter ego from co-workers. Meanwhile, naturally I incorporated occupational knowledge into my novels, as do other professionals such as MDs, forensic pathologists and lawyers who write commercial fiction.
Then my professional career and the opportunity to promote my romantic suspense novel at work collided. (Cue crashing cymbals...)
Dare I make my True Confession?
The excellent opportunity for Diamond Lust publicity was too good to miss.
(Ta da da DAH!) The Big Reveal of my romance writer persona to those in my professional life. I sold quite a few print copies at that charity book sale, including to men with whom I worked.
In the dark hours of second-guessing my decision — OMG, have the guys read the massage scene? What was I thinking? — I realized that the respect of those who “didn’t approve”, and indeed there were several, didn’t matter to me anymore. Besides, how many books had they published, eh?
At that point my two personas finally merged! I’m a romance author AND an engineer. To validate that, fans subsequently downloaded more than 100,000 copies of my free short story The Next Big Thing, which describes an engineer’s very sexy invention.
Postscript: Diamond Lust is only $1.49 in the Kindle and Nook Book stores, and $0.99 at Ellora’s Cave.