This blog will be two things [yikes, a manifesto!]: updates on my own writing/books/promos; and discussions about writing tips and techniques.About me . . . my deliberately cute but accurate bio is posted on Goodreads, Amazon, and Smashwords, et al. But the salient points: I’m female. I live in Toronto. I write romance.
What sort? Contemporary M/F romance about adults, for adults. No YA, paranormal, or historical [I like those subgenres, but I don’t write them]. My sex scenes are semi-graphic and largely euphemistic . . . but maybe one day I’ll publish the erotica I’ve been, ahem, poking at for some time now.But I’m asked the oddest question all the time: Why romance?
I’m sure those who ask mean it as a compliment – and being greedy for compliments, I take it as such. But there's a baseline contempt for the romance genre in the asking.Romance ain’t easy. It’s hard to craft a convincing story of two should-be-likeable people who have something that keeps them apart, and make their HEA palatable and realistic. So, in terms of writing skill: Why not romance?
Sure, we like to talk about the literary loftiness that’s supposed to mark us as intelligent, educated creatures, but . . . well, think of movie-ticket sales vs. awards. The awards are rarely given out to the blockbusters. But the blockbusters are the ones we saw. And when awards season rolls around, we all scramble to screen some of the nominated so we understand the pointed references when watching the televised presentations.Is romance mere guilty pleasure? In that case, many are guilty: romance holds the largest segment-share of book sales. But what is that to me? Why do I write/read romance?
I really didn’t know. I enjoy romance – but not all of it. I rarely review romance novels – critique of one’s own genre can read churlishly if not wholly positive. So I went in search of other readers’/writers’ opinions . . . and got pleasantly sidetracked.Thanks to the excellent site Romance Novels for Feminists – which in turn led me to this Salon.com post – I started thinking about it in a whole new way.
Isn’t it a bit sexist to assume it’s the lightweight female reader who indulges? Or bored housewives? [I’ve never met a bored so-called housewife - who can be bored when that busy?] And the average romance enthusiast is a woman with post-secondary education, regardless of whether she works in her home or out of it.Isn’t it sexist to assume it’s only women who read/write it? And isn’t it equally sexist to assume that all women love romance?
One such non-romance woman is one of my best friends: Kim – beta reader and eye-roller extraordinaire. She rolled her eyes at me while asking the Why romance? question when I begged her to read my first novel. Because I didn't know, I said, “Just read the damn’ thing because I asked you to!”So she did. And the next one, too. I didn’t convert her to the genre [I’ll put this down to unconquerable ignorance rather than my writing]. But she respected me enough to respect my efforts – and give honest critique. Which is what every writer wants from every reader, regardless of genre. In a world where pretensions are high and romance the foremost genre, isn’t respect overdue?
[Some great stats courtesy of RWA: The Romance Genre and Reader Statistics.]
This post was originally published on my Goodreads blog.