This week's questions come from... ME! Who knew when I created them several months ago that it would coincide with a very important discussion in the romance community, namely, the respect, or lack thereof, that is often associated with our genre. If you have a chance you should check out this awesome interview on this topic by one of my favourite authors, NYT Bestselling superstar Eloisa James.
Anyway, on to our questions!
1. Have you always written romance?
Yes, along with other things. But when I look at my earliest stories, they are definitely romantic. I like romance. I like the idea of people falling in love, of exploring what attracts them, and keeps them apart. No matter the genre, most stories have a romantic element. The different with romance is that you know you'll be rewarded for sticking with the tale with a satisfying happily ever after. I like that. A lot. The notion that romances are formulaic is wrong. The only thing formulaic about our books is that you know the hero and heroine will overcome. The rest of the story, the plot, the conflicts, it's left to the author's wild imagination.
2. How do you deal with critiques about the romance genre?
I try and put on a pro-active face. I like to tell the naysayers to read some romances before making blanket statements. I'm not going to go out and say—hmmm. issue. I was going to talk about a certain type of book that isn't my cup of tea, but I just realized I'll read anything.— Ok. Revision. What right do I have to criticize someone else's preferred style of writing or reading? I have no problem with people dissing a specific book, or author, because they didn't like it, but to apply a broad statement of inferiority over one genre based on personal preference smacks of intolerance to me. I'm not a fan of Rap music. Am I out there telling the world that Rap is a terrible form of music? Heck no. Because there are a few rap songs I really enjoy. And even if there weren't, it's not up to me to be the music police.
Anyway, the question was about how I deal with it. I tell people that romance novels make up the largest fiction sales in the world. Romance readers come from all socio-economic groups the world over. Even men read romance. And it's a valid form of artistic expression. In the end, if someone really wants to argue with me about it, I just walk away. I don't have time to waste on negativity.
3. What's the one thing about our genre you'd like people to know?
There are many, many damn fine romance novels in the world. We are writers just as any other writer. We obsess about story, and character development, and dialogue, and plotting just like any other author out there. This notion that all romance novels are the same is false. There's no us and they when it comes to writing. There is just a community of authors. Sure, I get excited to meet other writers who are publishing romance, but I also love my author pals who write literary fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, kids, mystery, thriller, erotica, etc etc. In fact, I belong to an awesome local writers group (Shout out to my fellow Scribe Wenches) that are made up of many genres. We support each other, share each others joys and frustrations, and regardless of genre, we respect each others work. Trust me. The same issues that keep a romance author up at night are keeping literary authors and historical fiction authors and fantasy authors up at night as well. Stop dissing us because we love a bit of love. ;)