I spent much of the winter and spring writing a non-fiction project, Writing Romantic Fiction, which will be published in November by Hachette/Macmillan. I was approached to do the project some time ago, and agreed to do it because it seemed like it would be a good exercise for me, and because it’s good to have something to offer at workshops.
What I didn’t realize is how much soul-searching it would trigger, both about process and how it works and why and but also about the role of romance and romantic novels in my life and in the great flow of books. I love the genre, and writing about it helped me to understand why. Love is important. Not just romantic love, of course, but romantic love can be a great and powerful blessing. Falling in love is a magical, amazing feeling that I would want everyone in the world to experience. Finding a partner—a true helpmate and lover who sees you and understands you and is willing to travel the path of life with you—is wonderful.
And yet, romance novels continue to be the most disdained of all genres. Often not just disdained or dismissed, but reviled with an unbridled hatred that oozes and splutters.
Why is that? Serious question.
Genre novels such as mysteries or science fiction are often dismissed, but they are not often reviled the way romance novels are. Why is it so much more ridiculous or ignorant to read and write romance novels than something like Game of Thrones or the latest gory offering from Patricia Cornwell?
When I first began writing romances, it was the mid-eighties and women were still wearing power suits to make their way in an often hostile business world, afraid to show the slightest bit of femininity for fear of being seen as weak, so I understood that by writing romantic fiction, I’d have to accept that some derision would be part of what I would have to grapple with. I lived with it. I didn’t like it, especially when well-meaning friends and relatives and even sometimes readers would say, “So when are you going to put this talent of yours to work on something important?” As if I was slumming there in romance, working on my craft until I could do something good with it. [Read more…]