Oct 03 - Post
The Unfortunate Persecution of the Romance Novel
This is my first post for Avon, and while I initially ran it as part of my blog tour back in January of this year, I received a lot of positive feedback from it and thought I'd share it here as well. So, without further ado, here it is again - in case you missed it the first time around :)
When I received the offer from Harper Collins for two of my books, I was so thrilled I practically started doing cartwheels across the floor – the feeling of acknowledgement was incredible. My family and friends were still unaware that I was making a serious attempt to break through as an author – I’d been reluctant to say anything before receiving the positive reinforcement this contract provided. Now was the time to let the cat out of the bag. Filled with excitement, yet nervous about how this sudden news might be received, I started spreading the word. The responses were very positive – at least until I named the genre. Romance? A few eyes glazed over with disinterest and one friend plainly asked, choking back a bark of laughter, “how many times did you use the words throbbing manhood?”
I started feeling as though I had to defend myself and my writing – as if it fit into a slot that wasn’t going to be taken seriously by most.
Going back to my friend’s question…I generally try to avoid putting those two words side by side in the same sentence, simply because I find it somewhat disturbing. To be frank, if any man’s manhood starts throbbing or pulsating, I do believe I’d recommend immediate medical attention. Still, I think the point being made was something along the lines of all romance being literary porn, written by perverts, for perverts, with a loose plot, revolving around raunchy sex.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The way I see it, romance novels address human nature far more intensely than most other forms of writing – it’s all about emotions, understanding flaws and how people react when faced with conflict. It’s about recognizing the most positive human traits as portrayed by the heroes and heroines: honor, loyalty, the willingness to recognize ones mistakes and put them to right. Relationships, ethics, morality, the difference between right and wrong…all of these are repeatedly dealt with and analyzed, improving not only our understanding of ourselves, but of those around us as well.
I didn’t always feel this way. There was a time in the not so distant past when I’d shake my head at all the romance novels lining the walls of the bookstores, passing them by with the intention of finding something with more substance. Yes, I was ignorant – as is everyone else who picks up a romance only to drop it as if they’ve been burned.
A good romance novel is uplifting, the plot is smart and it’s well researched. Yes there’s probably going to be hot and frisky sex in it (at least there is in the ones I read), and to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sex doesn’t have to be taboo– it’s a perfectly natural act that we’ve all been engaging in since the beginning of time – we wouldn’t be here otherwise. Heads up people – your parents had sex, your grandparents had sex…perhaps wilder sex than you’ve ever had yourself (though I’m sure you’d rather not think about that). Yet for some reason, the depiction of it in romance novels has labeled this whole genre of books as something for people to snuff their noses at. How sad.
So … Hello everyone, my name is Sophie Barnes and I write romance novels with PRIDE – novels with a solid plot, but with enough spice to get your heart pumping. They’re not for prudes, or hypocrites –… that should be a disclaimer … ;o). Besides, the romance writers out there are so diverse I’ll dare anyone not to find one they enjoy. You like humor? Catherine Gayle will make you pee your pants. Adventure? Try Marsha Canham or Leigh Greenwood. Something a bit more serious – how about Johanna Lindsey?
~Sophie Barnes - author of How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back