A conversation on one of my online author lists last week has stayed with me. A member wrote in, commenting on an article that referred to romance novels as “guilty pleasures and bodice rippers” and a number of others wrote back in defense of the genre, with, of course, their own stories on insults hurled and offensive comments made about romances in general. What’s stuck in my head is how defensive everyone is. Personally, I’ve had it with feeling a need to apologize for what I love to read AND write.
First of all, reading romances, for me at least, is a guilty pleasure, but certainly not because of the content. It’s because when I’m reading, when I’m lost in that wonderful world another author has created, I should probably be writing my own world—but that book in my TBR pile has called to me louder than the work in progress.
As far as the bodice ripper description? That label got hung on the genre when the covers depicted exactly that—some overbearing alpha male ripping the bodice of the heroine’s dress, and we, as readers, didn’t let that stop us. We devoured every one of those books with pure delight, but times change. Covers change, stories change, but the label lives on. Instead of taking it as an insult, we should learn to appreciate the fact the genre we love is so much a part of the American lexicon. Of course, that doesn’t excuse the folks who, when they learn what you write, think nothing of referring to your work as smut or women’s porn.
My answer to that? “Really? I thought they were just terrific stories about love and life with a guaranteed happy ending.” Face it...in today’s world, it’s hard to disagree with anything that promises a happy ending! I quit apologizing a long time ago for what I write and love to read. It’s especially important now, because I’ve moved on into a genre that is edgy and sexy, stories that skirt—and often cross way over—the comfort zone for a lot of people.
I’m proud of the fact I write erotic romance and I don't hesitate to say so. When the eyebrows go up, as they inevitably do, I take the topic and run with it. It’s not easy to get published in this huge and horribly competitive market, and I’m not about to let anyone try and take my sense of accomplishment away from me. Another thing to remember—romance drives the publishing world. Our books sell! Do not try to intimidate the 600 pound gorilla...
Of course, it means you need to have your “stock replies” available for the snide put downs! My favorite is, “Oh, you write those smutty books for women.” We’ve all heart that one, right? My response? “Yeah, but it’s very good smut—and it sells real well.” That always turns the conversation in my direction. It’s hard to insult someone who loves their work!
I told you mine...now tell me yours!