Monday, February 17, 2014

A Librarian and an Author Explain What the Romance Genre Is

Image is copyrighted by NPR and the On Point with Tom Ashbrook radio show. With Valentine's Day just past and every news outlet, including NPR, scrambling to talk to romance writers and readers and to marvel at how much money this industry amasses, this interview by NPR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook with public librarian Wendy Crutcher and erotic romance author Angela Knight is very timely.

Have a listen here to the interview.

Here're some excerpts that I may have paraphrased as I typed as fast as my fingers were able to while listening to the podcast.

People who don't read romance have an idea of who reads romance: classic spinsters, unsatisfied housewives, women missing something from their real lives, etc. Rather, the readers cover every demographic, race, gender, economic scale, etc.

Almost all genre novels deal in positive endings. But romance gets knocked for it for being unrealistic.

It is insulting to imply that women are incapable of separating fiction from reality. [KS: Does this get said of sci-fi/fantasy novels or thrillers or murder mysteries?]

[Wendy:] People who read romance are looking for a good story that will sweep them up and carry them away, for strong emotional connections and human emotions, and for connections to the characters. I like when an author can make me forget that I'm reading about a fictional world with fictional people. I am looking for a little bit of emotional truth that speaks to me.

[Angela:] Basic core conflict in romance is always trust. Trust is the big defining thing in all relationships. If you can't trust somebody, then you don't have a relationship with that person. So romance novels work on establishing trust between the characters.

[Wendy:] Love and romance are universal desirable emotions. They're tangible, understandable, relatable emotions. People love the journey of the characters, the struggle, to get to love where they share their lives together.

[Wendy:] You know you're a great public library when there's something on your shelf to offend every person who walks in the door.

[Angela:] Ninety-nine percent of women write romance, 90% of women read romance, 90% of editors are women. So women are not constrained by what men might think about it. So in a sense it is a subversive feminist literature. Heroines do what they do because it enhances their lives.

[Male Caller:] I have read romance since I was fifteen. I still read them. I am disappointed that romance isn't marketed more towards male readers. I run a bookstore and have my collection is romance, because it's a genre that covers all the other genres. Emotional connections between individuals are missing from other genres like sci-fi, fantasy, and murder. So if you read romance, you can read romantic suspense to get the murder side of the stories and also the emotional connection.

Listen to the entire podcast to find out what romance is to modern-day readers.