Monday, February 2, 2015

Joan Wilder? Ze Joan Wilder? The Romance Novelist?

I know you're probably reading this blog topic there and wondering what the hell I'm talking about but bear with me a mo...

A few days ago, I received a message from someone I'd attended High School with. I can't say she was a friend per se as we ran in different crowds (I was Queen of the Island of Misfit Toys and she was head cheerleader and the twain shall never meet. C'mon now, we all know the social landscape of any given High School in the 1980s. I have two words for you: Breakfast Club. )  but we'd waved hello a few times here and there, not to mention we were both in the same Creative Writing class.
After a couple of inboxes back and forth in which we both reminisced fondly about the 'good ol' days', the inevitable question arose: So, what are you doing these days?

With great pride I told her I was an author.

Her: Really? That's great. You always talked about being one, I remember. What do you write about?
Me: Romance. Paranormal Romance.

Her: Romance??? (I should interject that I could literally feel the disdain coming off her in waves through her typing. I mean, 3 Question Marks pretty much says it all.) Are you serious?

Me: Yep. Serious as a heart attack.

Her:  I never liked them. I mean, who writes them? Bored, frustrated women with sexual hang ups and miserable lives. I mean, romance is just so far fetched and unreal. Aren't you embarrassed?

Hmmm…here we go again.

I still get surprised by the misconceptions others have about it. In many circles, romance novels are the wart-filled stepsister of other mass-market genres. Even though romance outsells every other fiction genre in the U.S. market the books and their authors continue to get snubbed.

Here are some of the misconceptions people have about the romance genre:

- The books are all about sex, sex, and more sex.

Not true. While sex can figure into the plot, it's more about the relationship between people. I say people, not characters, did you catch that? Now, don't get me wrong, I love reading and writing a good ol' sex scene but ultimately what turns me on most is building the tension and revealing what makes our hero and heroine tick. 

- Romance writers don't take the craft of writing seriously.

We don't? I beg to differ. In all honesty, we take it much more seriously than we'd give off.  We already enter the arena with points against us for the genre we have chosen so it would stand to reason we have to try a bit harder, go a little further. It's a fine line, walking the tightrope between believability/relatability and still managing to infuse a bit of the mysterious and seductive. 

- Romance writers just pop words into a formula.

Ha ha ha ha....*long moments of insane cackling* Oh? Whatever helps you sleep at night! Writing romance is a totes underrated art form but at the same time, a mine field full of traps we have to wary of from beginning to end. Romance writing has evolved greatly over the years and while it may have been cricket at one point to simply 'pop words into a formula' that's not how it works. Not remotely. If you think its a breeze, I challenge you to try and write a romance. Let me know how that works out for you.

- Romance novels are less literary than other genres.

The literary debate will no doubt go on until the last star in the sky burns out.What makes one book more literary than the other? I mean, do you look at a steamy cover and think it negates the words within? I say no but a lot of people do think that. Sad. But for the record, most romance authors I do know are highly intelligent people with varying degrees in several areas. Contrary to popular belief, we are not all Gollum-esque, hiding out in our caves and craving the 'preesssshhhuzzzz'. 

There has never been any shame in my game when it comes to writing in general and romance in particular.  A very long time ago when I just a baby Writer Girl, I knew the genre I loved most would be the genre I'd choose when the time came. I am not repetent, rueful or sheepish. Nor will I ever be apologetic or contrite. I'm not ashamed or humiliated by the area I chose...and when anyone asks me in future what it is I do, I'll go full Tony Stark....

And I will say, with joy and happiness...

I'm Torie James. And I write Paranormal Romance.

1 comment:

  1. Good for you and that so called "friend" can go screw herself becasue she probaly doesnt have romance in her life or get any, that's why she sounds so miserable. Ooops, did I say that out loud? *Sheepish grin*