Welcome back to Romance Weekly. I accidentally took the week off last week–time sort of got away from me. It does that. If you’re here, hopefully you came from Kim Handysides.
Let’s get started!
- Have you always written Romance?
Yup. I’m dabbling outside my comfort zone of romance, but romance is what I love to write, and I don’t see myself writing anything else for long. And, even if it’s not strictly romance, everything I write has strong romantic elements.
2. How do you deal with critiques about the romance genre?
I’ll admit, it used to bother me. It used to sting when my family–not the hub, who has always been outrageously supportive–would ask, “When are you going to write something good?” Or, the other question, “When will you write something people will actually read?” Or, even better, “I will never read anything you write. Romance is trash.”
Of all the published books in the whole entire world, the romance genre holds the largest market share. More romance books are read than any other genre. Romance readers can be voracious, reading hundreds of books per year. Any author thanks their lucky stars for readers like that.
But, I don’t say any of that. I merely smile and nod. That’s all you can do with the people who don’t like romance. Just as no one is going to make me want to read a cozy mystery, I’m not going to change anyone’s mind. The people who want to denigrate romance as a genre, who think it’s unimportant, who don’t think it’s any good, well… they’re not reading it.
I have read romance novels that have made me laugh out loud, and I’ve read others that have made me cry. And just because it’s not packaged as literary fiction doesn’t mean it’s not well-written or that it’s not important. Genres are merely a device created by people who needed to know how to shelve books. In reality, there is only nonfiction and fiction–genres exist to make a book seller’s life easier. Marketers and publicists and publishers have made literary fiction somehow more important than other genres, as if the only beauty in the whole world is encapsulated within the pages of either the classics or literary fiction (and, truth be told, some of it is beautiful and thought-provoking).
But, just as some of the romance books I’ve read are drivel, I’ve read some pretty crummy literary fiction, too. And just as some literary fiction is beautiful, there is lyricism in romance, too, and beauty in the prose.
Not only that, but there is something inexplicably compelling about a romance, about the love two people have for one another. When I need to escape from my real life, I open a romance novel. In the world of romance, I get the happy ending so many people never get. I’ll get insurmountable odds that somehow, miraculously, a couple can overcome. And maybe it gives me hope that tomorrow can be better, and the mountain I have to climb seems just a little bit smaller.
Romance novels are about hope.
So, when I hear about someone criticizing someone else for reading romance novels, I think about how small, how sad they must be. We hear so much about how everything moves so fast, how everyone stares at their smart phones and doesn’t connect. But romance is all about finding that human connection. It seems, on it’s most basic level, that anyone who would criticize someone else for wanting to read about hope, about romantic love, is disconnected. And that’s just sad to me.
I get not everyone wants to read a romance novel. I’m cool with that. A lot of my friends read only nonfiction, and I’m cool with that, too. But just because I like romance novels doesn’t mean I’m not intelligent enough to enjoy other genres, too. I do. I just prefer the hope I get from a romance novel, I prefer to think about the connections we make to one another.
I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t care what other people read. And, in a kinder, gentler world, no one would care what I read, either. In that world, all fiction is equally important.
3. What’s the one thing about our genre you’d like people to know?
As I said above, I think romance is important. I don’t think reading a romance novel gives women unrealistic expectations for our own lives. I don’t expect my husband to constantly declare his undying love for me–I suspect that would get old after awhile, and I’m just enough of a cynic to think he was lying to me if he did it too often. Or, really, ever.
That conversation would go something like this:
Him: “You are my sun and my moon. I love everything about you. I think you are perfect. We are one, you and I.”
Me: “You’ve said something like that three times today. Are you having a stroke?”
Him: “No. You move me. Without you, I am a mere shell of a man, incomplete and desolate.”
Me: “Did you just find out you’re dying?”
Him: “Of course not. The very thought of shaking off this mortal coil without you by my side makes me want to weep with despair. Our love is strong enough that we can transcend anything.”
Me: “OH MY GOD WHO DID YOU SLEEP WITH?”
So, it’s probably a good thing that he doesn’t do that.
In any case, however, reading romance isn’t about reading about sex (though I will admit that I enjoy that, too), it’s about that connection between two people. Because even though my husband doesn’t tell me that I am his sun and his moon, I suspect, somewhere in his heart, I probably am.
Every time I read a romance novel, I feel that little spark of hope, and I remember that connection I have with him. It’s not about bodice rippers or naked men (again, I like those, too); it’s about that connection that, as humans, most of us are hardwired to seek out. We crave it. We want it. And, in the end, that need for a connection with other human beings is so strong, so ingrained in our DNA, that we are broken without it.
And if that’s not important, then I don’t know what is.
I’ve talked your ear off enough for one day. Why not check out Katherine Givens? See what she has to say…