Beautifully Brutal Romance

Meet Casey

I’m not sure there’s anything worse for a writer than that dreaded moment when they have to write their own bio. I’ve never been comfortable with attention or adoration. I try to avoid it at all costs. I don’t even let my family sing to me on my birthday. Well, that’s not 100% true. I let my in-laws do it because they’re sweet, and I have a hard time saying no to them. I also let my stepdaughter do it because she lives so far away, and I miss her all the time. Those are the only two exceptions! With my strong aversion to attention, turning the spotlight in my direction for entertainment purposes is akin to driving needles under my fingernails.

But here I go anyway…

So, where did it all start?

Picture it. St. Johnsbury, Vermont, 1995…

You see what I did there? I slid into Sophia from Golden Girls. I tend to do that. But I digress…

See, I just did it again. Sorry, totally my favorite show!

Anyway, back to my story. It all began in my best friend, Jill’s, small bedroom with the flower-covered walls. The ultimate love story junkie, Jill devoured romance novels in a way I could only envy. You see, I had a reading disability/comprehension issue, and no matter how much I wanted to absorb those morsels of awesomeness, my brain rejected the idea.

It literally slapped up a steel wall at the thought.

Now, call me naïve, but I didn’t realize most romance novels had sex. I mean, I get it, people get together, tab A goes in slot B, or if you’re down with it and haven’t had burritos in the past day, slot C. (Yes! I totally just said that. I should be ashamed, but I’m not.) But seriously, I hadn’t the first clue that between those covers were some steamy, open-door sex scenes. Maybe that’s because Jill was always so quiet, polite, and virtuous. Her mother always maintained that I was the promiscuous bad influence.


Little did she know, Jill indulged in multiple sex scenes a week, which by the way, explained so much about our first trip to Canada at eighteen to see strippers.

Also, something her mother blamed me for.

Well, okay, that might have been my idea, and my fault. Shhh, don’t tell. My quiet, polite, virtuous friend walked through the door of Studio Sex and morphed into a ravenous, wanton woman desperate for slick skin and a handsome face. They were having a drawing that night. Everyone through the door got a free ticket; the winner gets to pick the stripper of their choice for three private dances.

She pointed at a particularly shiny piece of manhood and said, “That one! If I win the drawing, I want my private dances from that one!” Of course, she won the drawing. And the rest is a story for another day. Maybe I’ll blog about it. She would probably be mortified!

Although I didn’t read romance, I have always believed in romance. I gravitated toward romantic movies and romantic comedies. I loved charming, handsome, and painfully flawed alpha heroes who did everything in their power to win the girl. I craved strong heroines with something to prove to everyone, to themselves.

So in that little room, sitting cross-legged on her double bed, with CMT music videos playing in the background, a boom box, and an abundance of blank cassette tapes, ideas were born.

I kept those tapes all these years. Finally, a few years back, I searched stores for cassette players so I could actually listen to them.

First thing I learned…I really hate the sound of my own voice. But then, that probably has a lot to do with my aversion to attention. My art teacher told me back in high school that I had a smoky voice made for radio. I think I sound like a man after smoking a couple packs a day for two decades who now gets up and hacks up a charcoal-crusted lung every morning before breakfast.

We agreed to disagree.

The second thing I’ve learned is that I’ve been plotting and preparing to write for more than half of my life. I had forgotten how many book ideas we came up with. So, I started taking notes on our conversations, or at least the parts that could be considered plotting, and my first manuscript was born.

Now, after marrying, divorcing, remarrying, raising three girls, and spending years earning a BA in English Literature, I’m trading in catering to my daughters’ schedules with soccer, field hockey, cheer-leading, dance, birthday parties, sleepovers, and field trips. I’m going to rock concerts with my girls, golfing with the hubby, and finally focusing most of my attention on the stories I want to tell and bringing them to romance readers. If I’m lucky, they’ll love them as much as I do. So here I am, mother of three girls, on my second and final marriage (I found the right one this time!), and finally chasing the dream I didn’t even realize I’d created in that flowered room with my best friend and an old boom box.




© Casey Hagen, USA Today Bestselling Author