Sunday, August 2, 2009

Romance as 'Respectable' Fiction?

There has been something on my mind ever since the 2009 RWA conference. I heard many authors, agents and editors talk about the acceptance level of romance as respected fiction. All indicated they thought much progress had been made for this genre to be more accepted. Many also indicated that other popular fiction areas such as Mystery and Science Fiction really faced the same issues. I've turned this around and around in my mind and I find I just can't accept that. I come from still male dominated corporate industry. If any of my colleagues had found out I read romance, my IQ in their eyes would have immediately been reduced along with my credibility as an industry professional. That would not have been the case if I had been sprung reading another popular fiction novel. I have even heard discussion about the type of women that must read that crap and I can tell you I'm not overweight, ugly, unmarried and I'm getting laid on a regular basis. I understand why literary fiction might be seen as 'superior' to popular fiction although I might not agree. I think there is still a hell of a long way to go to have romance more widely accepted as a valid genre despite how well it sells. It's going to take alot to smash the perceptions (some grounded back many years ago) around who writes and reads this type of novel and why they do so. It's also not just the men. I once put myself out there and asked a female colleague whether she read romance novels and she replied 'Oh, I don't read that stuff.' We still have a long road ahead and I hope as a published novelist I can really help with this cause. Women have been hiding what they have been reading for long enough!!

Why do you read romance?

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