It's time for another Querytracker blog chain, and this time I am ending the chain instead of beginning it - which means that you can find the other posters in this order: Archetype Writing begins by discussing a love of science fiction and fantasy, then over at Mindless Musings Elana talks about speculative fiction, next up HL Dyer gave an inside look into the process of figuring out where her own novel fits into the genre classification system, and finally over at Write On! Mary discussed the stigma that YA authors sometimes face.
Now it's my turn, and to finish out this fabulous chain I am going to build on Mary's discussion of genre bias - because while YA writers suffer this to a certain extent - I think that romance writers and readers definitely get the worst of it. How do I know? I know because I shared this bias. Although I have always been drawn to stories with romance and began reading romance novels in the 7th or 8th grade, I was always ashamed of them. I mean c'mon having a book a day reading habit is already not the coolest thing for a middle-schooler, but to on top of that to have a book with the half-naked hero and heroine locked together in a passionate embrace... well that is just social suicide.
However, I am now older, wiser, and most importantly long enough out of high school that I can look back on it and say, "well, that was a good character building exercise." I am now ready to come out of the romance closet. I like romance novels. Oh, hell I love them. Especially, Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Her books are like crack to me. Seriously, I own then and re-read them every few years or so. In fact, just this past Sunday I re-read This Heart of Mine and even though it is not one of my favorites (and again I had read it before) I could barely make myself put it down Sunday night and then read it almost all day Monday, until I finished it before dinnertime. Yeah, we had re-heated leftovers for dinner that night.
I like romance novels so much that I wrote one for my first novel, and right now I'm working on writing another!
Okay, yes, I am still not a fan of the super-lusty covers, preferring the new more cartoony style of recent years - but ya know what - if it looks like a good book I don't care if Fabio's face is leering at me from the cover - I'm gonna read it, and I'll do it in public too!
PS: I actually read all different types of books from every genre, and I think if everyone did this there would be no bias towards any genres at all, because a good book cuts across all categories. With that thought in mind I would challenge anyone reading this to step outside of their favorite reading genre the next time your at the library or bookstore and give something else a chance. A few suggestions to think about: If you think YA is just for little kids check out Australian John Marsden and his Tomorrow When the War Began series, if you think sci-fi and fantasy are just for geeks give Anne McCaffrey a try (I especially enjoy Pegasus in Flight and the entire Talent series, but she is best known for her Pern books), if you think non-fiction is dry and lacking in creativity then you need only read some David Sedaris (When You Are Engulfed in Flames is his latest) or John Krakauer (Try Into Thin Air) to see the error of your ways, and finally as I mentioned again my favorite romance author is Susan Elizabeth Phillips, so if you think romance is only for lonely cat-lovers, then maybe give one of her novels a try and see if it will change your mind.