Ah, where to begin…
For some reason this week I’ve been running into the same wall. It usually begins with an eye-roll from the other person after I explain that I write romance novels. Somehow my being a romance author makes me less than in their eyes; less talented, less serious, less theme-based, less thought-provoking. Dismissable.
“Really? You don’t like things like Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Gone with the Wind, Anna Karenina, The Notebook, Time Traveler’s Wife, Outlander…?”
Before I know it, I’m defending the entire genre and explaining that my books aren’t like the princess driven trade paperbacks they might have read in their youth. The entire genre is now woke, where consent and diversity are addressed, and strong female leads are the norm.
If the conversation manages to get past the first roadblock, I’m then justifying the sex scenes in my books and that of other authors.
“Why do they even have to be there in the first place?”
That question usually leads to my explaining the very big genre differences between romance and erotica. Sex as a plot device versus sex for sex sake. I might even launch into a diatribe on the lingering dislike of romance as another subtle form of slut-shaming. Luckily, that usually only happens after a glass of wine…or two.
The final nail in my conversational coffin occurs when I explain that I write paranormal romance.
“No, that doesn’t necessarily mean vampire. It could mean ancient gods, werewolves, shifters, demons, or any other supernatural being.”
“Yes, I realize vampires aren’t real.”
“Oh, I’m sorry you don’t enjoy fantasy. Shame really. Harry Potter, The Hobbit, Narnia, and Alice in Wonderland. They really were fantastic books.”
At that point, the conversation is over. There’s no reason to explain the difference between paranormal and fantasy. They don’t understand me, and I don’t understand them. How do you live in a world without a touch of magick?
I’d like to say that these conversations only happen with individuals of a certain age or gender, but I can’t. This week it’s been weirdly random. The fact that I’m running into it more at Christmas time than earlier this year is even stranger since this is supposed to be the most magical time of the year.
Christmas is when we should celebrate love in all its forms. Real or fictional.
So yes, judge a book by its cover and quality of prose but don’t limit yourself by genre. Take a risk. Try something new this season. You just might encounter undiscovered worlds and characters that find a permanent home on your bookshelves.