On one of the boards I’ve been on for years and years, a new member came on and had some questions about romance as a genre. I see these types of questions a lot and almost always by people who don’t read romance or read one back in 1985 and somehow think they know enough garnered from other people who don’t read romance or read one thirty years ago to make sweeping generalizations about it.
One of the main comments was something about why don’t romance authors make it easier for men to pick up books they feel comfortable reading in public.
The thing is, it’s not my job to make your being an adult easier. It’s not my job to help you realize you shouldn’t have to apologize for your preferences, especially to people who don’t bother to understand what they’re judging to begin with. It’s your job to read whatever the hell you want and stop worrying about what some total stranger three seats behind you on the bus thinks.
I don’t care that authors over at a certain well known fantasy writers’ board spend at least 40% of their time whining about romance and how they’d hate it if their books got shelved in romance. I do care that my readers are treated with such little respect except when their hard earned book dollars are spent and help many of those authors sell through and continue to get new contracts. But all I can do is respect my own readers and be true to my craft. I don’t care that recently a sci-fi lover took women to task for “ruining” the genre. My guess is, having never actually touched a real woman, he’s confused about what we are and what we do.
The deal is, the world is full of people who can only find pleasure by tearing down what other people do, like, write, eat for breakfast, wear on a date, etc. A lot of those people have blogs. In the end, what matters to me is what I do. What the people I care about do. If a stranger on the bus thinks it’s a hoot when I read a romance novel in public, who’s problem is that? Because it’s not mine. If I can’t walk up to the register at my local bookstore and buy a book because of the cover being silly, that’s not the fault of romance or cover art, that’s my issue. If I let people make themselves feel better at my expense because they write X and I write romance and therefore I’m not as literary or clever or whatever, that’s my fault. I’d rather just give em the hand and pick my book back up.
I *like* to read romance. I *like* to write romance. I read a host of other genres too, I love a well told story.
My response to the folks who haven’t read romance but hate it, or haven’t read anything since 1985 is to shut up and pick up Jenny Crusie’s Welcome To Temptation. Or Nalini Singh’s Slave to Sensation. Or Elizabeth Lowell. Or Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Ain’t She Sweet. Oh or JD Robb’s Naked In Death. In other words, if you’ve read more than one romance book thirty years ago, you might be able to state these “ooh icky kissing junk” things with more convincing argument. Or not. You might just find that there are some really excellent authors out there telling some wonderful stories about people. Either way? It’s not my job to make you feel better about your ability to read a book in public or not. And if you feel askert about having your book put in the romance section instead of rejoicing in your book deal, you have way worse problems than I can possibly solve.
Find the joy people. Like what you like and don’t apologize.