Jul 4, 2010

I Have Issues...

By Nikki Logan

I’ve discovered a trend emerging with the books I’ve written to date for Harlequin Romance. My first book hinted at child abuse, my second book revolves around stem-cell technologies and male sterility, my third story features a stalked heroine, my fourth a tattooed, emotionally abused heroine and a hero with PTSD, my fifth relates to substance abuse, my sixth emotional and physical scarring resulting from trauma and my seventh—just recently finished—which was supposed to be my attempt at lightness pits a crusading greenie against the man who thinks she cause his father’s suicide.


Turns out I’m an issues-author. Who knew!

Of course they’re all romances first and foremost and I would hope that the issues are no more prominent than the nature settings which I try to apply with a conservative hand. I meant to be a nature-based author—that’s one hundred percent intentional—but the stories that keep pouring out of me are also touching on some of our most pressing social issues today. And it’s not always conscious. I guess I just find the challenges that people live with and overcome interesting and a naturally fertile place for love stories to grow.

I think I can safely say I won’t be writing a book about the GFC anytime soon or the World Cup or oil spills (at least not for a long, long time). But other than those it seems no topic is off limits to my sub-conscious.

Their Newborn Gift which releases in Aust/NZ this month, revolves around the heroine’s desperate attempt to make a new baby with the hero so that she can harvest the precious stem-cells found in the newborn’s umbilical cord and save the life of her four-year-old daughter.

It was a tricky story to navigate, given people’s views about spare-parts babies but at the end of the day this heroine was delighted to have a sibling for her little girl and was quite prepared to raise it alone and love it every bit as the sister its birth helped to save. It’s just that things don’t quite work out that way for her.

You’ll have to read it to find out why!

Cord-blood really is the most amazing gift to humanity. There is a brief window of opportunity right after birth in which the stem-cells in the umbilical cord (and it’s rich with them) can be harvested and frozen for use in other children (and adults) or the child from which the umbilical cord came. A stem-cell can become virtually any other cell in the body depending on where it’s injected – think of it like a shape-shifting cell. It becomes what’s around it. Muscle, tissue, blood, bone – whatever is required. It’s why they are so valuable and sought after.

Which is why it seems virtually criminal that those precious micrograms of cells are bundled up with the clamped and snipped umbilical cord and tossed into a hospital incinerator when they could do so much good in a donor capacity.

Cord blood banks are now being set up around the world to capture this microscopic gold and save lives everywhere. Commercial programs to save a baby’s cord blood stem cells in the event that he/she might need it later are also popping up everywhere and—like everything—this is open to abuse. Because, really, what wouldn’t a parent do to save the life of their child.

And I guess that brings me full circle back to Lea and Reilly’s dilemma in Their Newborn Gift. What a choice to make, eh?

Do you enjoy reading issues-based books? Are they sometimes too pointed? Are they better because they’re more contemporary or will they date more easily? Have you read my latest book - did I hit the mark?


  1. What a brilliant post Nikki,
    and you are so right, so much wastage for such a precious commodity.
    I absolutely adore books that are issue-based, makes for much more interesting, on the edge reading.
    Good luck with your books - intend reading book number 1 before the conference!!!

  2. Nikki, I love an issue book if it's well done. If the issue is part of the story and naturally grows from the characters. If it becomes an "issue book" then it takes away from the romance and the characters and I put it down.

    Having read your books (well, the ones released so far!) I can say you do them beautifully - it's subtle and totally appropriate for the story.

  3. Very interesting post, Nikki! And on a subject -- I must confess -- that I've never thought about. I must hie myself off and get a copy of Their Newborn Gift.

    With regard to 'issue' books, I can't recall when I last read one. I think it's because I tend to avoid reading contemporaries. Bad me! Clearly I need to read more broadly!

  4. Ooh, Nikki, you certainly hit the mark with Their Newborn Gift.

    I think issue-based books can be super-powerful as long as they don't have an agenda and lecture the reader. I think Rachel put it well when she says as long as it grows naturally from the characters, and I think that's the key (and what you did in Their Newborn Gift). You might be an issues writer, but you certainly haven't forgotten the romance :-)

  5. You combine "issues" and romance very well, Nikki, so go for it. Makes for engrossing reading. I loved your first book and I'm looking forward to your second - it's teetering on my TBR pile.


  6. Nikki, I love the issues theme. Readers can really relate to them, either personally or knowing someone going through a difficult time.

    Cheers, Sue

  7. Hi Nikki --
    I prefer to call it good conflict rather than issues. All stories need good conflict and current issues are a good way to achieve that.

    Isn't it amazing what our subconscious minds pour into our stories!

    P.S. That umbilical cord picture scares me! In medical shows, I always look away if I see one...can you tell I haven't had kids yet!!!

  8. Fascinating post, Nikki. Cord blood plays a pivotal role in Battlestar Gallactica too!

    I really enjoyed the added dimension of having this issue in your book. I love learning something new whenever I read. Looking forward to your next books.

  9. I enjoyed this book. I welcome books with serious issues and depth. There was more heart to this book than the usual greek Tycoon's Mistress stuff that is so common with Harlequins.
    Yiu are now on my must buy list.