Monday 9 August 2021

A few things not to say when meeting a romance author!

By Alyssa J. Montgomery

I’m sure many if not most romance authors have experienced this conversation. It could be at a black-tie cocktail party or a backyard BBQ. Someone mentions there’s a romance author present and the reactions vary from, “Really? I love romance novels” to the words, “You write romance?” (the latter accompanied by a snicker of disbelief, a discreet cough and a little titter from someone else). The conversation switches swiftly to romance novels and the same timeless myths are trotted out by males and females alike. 

Anne Gracie wrote an article for the Victorian Writers’ Centre magazine WriteOn about some “Myths of Romance”. The ones she mentioned – “formulaic writing”, “they’re all the same”; “soft porn for women” “cardboard characters, clich├ęs and bad writing” as well as having “absolutely no value to the world”, are still being bandied about by ignorant, and (I think) arrogant individuals. 

Back to the conversation...Barbara Cartland is mentioned and I immediately point out that Dame Barbara sold over a billion books worldwide in at least 36 languages. Then, having written an article on this Breathless in the Bush blog about how romance novels empower women, I launch into my defence of romance novels, all the while wondering how my wonderful hosts can be entertaining people who are so downright rude! 
The conversation takes a personal turn when an acquaintance expresses surprise that I write “those books” because “you’re an educated woman”. I barely contain my eye-roll back at the man. When I ask what sort of person he thinks writes a romance novel, he has the grace to look slightly embarrassed, but then volunteers: “Someone who’s desperately unhappy and can’t find their own romance”. The floodgates open. One negative comment flows after another from ‘sex-obsessed’ (with a wink and a nudge to my husband) to “a middle-aged, unemployed cat lady”. 

Well, thank you very much!

Of course, these people are simply displaying their ignorance and appalling manners. None of their comments are original, but for the record, here are some things NOT to say if you ever meet a romance author.

“How long does it take to write one of those books? A couple of days or a week or so?”

“Are your books like 50 Shades of Grey?”

“Did your publisher give you a formula?”

“Did you have a crush on Fabio when you were growing up?”

“I downloaded your book from a free site, then I shared it to another free site because I enjoyed it so much!”

“Do you have to write a certain number of pages of sex scenes in each book?”

“Do you research the sex scenes with your husband?”

 “Where can I get a free copy?”

Please don’t use the words smut, porn/mummy porn, trash, or bodice ripper and please don’t do what ‘fans’ of Julia Quinn did to her and launch into a long-winded review of why you didn’t like the book and what the author should’ve done differently!

Thankfully the ill-mannered individuals are far outnumbered by respectful people.

Love to love awesome, empowering romance novels.
Love to laugh at the stereotypical images of the romance writer!
Love to learn what experiences others have had in regard to ridiculous comments people have made about romance writers/the romance genre, so please leave a comment below.