Monday, April 13, 2009

Pro or Con?

The Today Show did a thingamajig about how romance sales are rising (Woop!), but as I watched it, I couldn't help feeling a little patronized. Maybe I'm too sensitive? What do you think?

I have to admit at times I'm bothered by the feeling that I have to defend romance novels. I was chatting with a new acquaintance a few weeks ago about being a writer in the Seattle area (he was an aspiring scribbler himself). He eagerly name-dropped a couple local authors and I cooperated by saying that yes, I had read and thoroughly enjoyed Richelle Mead's Succubus Blues (set right here in the Emerald City!). Then he commented that he'd read another book by her and been disappointed by how "romancey" it was. He made a cringey face as he said the "R" word and then smilingly asked me what I wrote. Oh, joy.

What have we done to deserve this stigma? Jennifer Crusie (Goddess!) has an interesting essay on her website about why romance is universally condemned - unlike mystery, Sci-Fi, or literary fiction - but it does not resolve the issue of how to eliminate the cringing.

What say you, dear reader? Shall we proud heart-on-sleeve scribes and bookworms march on the Capitol? (See: RWA National Conference this year in DC.) Or should our warfare be more subtle? One conversion at a time? Maybe we should start a campaign to force romance critics to actually read a book before they slam it. Just a thought.


Vivant said...

I agree that the tone of the Today show interview was patronizing. Disappointing. Why is it that people assume Harlequin and Danielle Steele define the romance genre? To me, that is the cheesy, formulaic, passe side of romance.

There are so many amazing writers in the Romance category whose books would be considered excellent in any genre. It is a shame our Puritanical society descends to immature sniggers when faced with emotional or sexual content outside its comfort zone.

Romance gives us happily ever afters, but that doesn't mean it's shallow. Romance tells a story of people who struggle with their circumstances and overcome them...people who are capable of change. And this is bad WHY?

Anonymous said...

Love the romance, gotta have it, need to write it, but I want to put a disclaimer on my writing - "this is not your mother's romance."