Thursday, April 14, 2005

"I Don't Write Romance Books, I Write Books About Relationships"

Barbara Cartland may not be wholly responsible for the way the whole romance genre is perceived, but I don’t think that her brand of romance helped. I think her legacy of bodice rippers and quivering maidens, will forever remain in the psyche of non-romance readers.

As a romance reader growing up, I was pilloried by my peers for reading ‘those’ kind of books. Of course I didn’t help matters by acting ashamed of what I was reading. Sure I read books like, Anne of Green Gables, or even Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books, it didn’t bother me that people knew that I read these kind of books. I was proud to hold them aloft, and let the world see what they were. I knew that I wouldn’t be judged for reading them, whereas my Silhouette Desire offerings, which generally depicted a man and a woman in an amorous clinch on the front cover, were something to be ashamed of as far as I was concerned.

Things have changed since then, but I wonder how many women still hide the cover of their romance books, when in public? I mean really, if you think about it, how many times have you sat on a train and seen somebody actually reading a romance book, with the cover showing so that the other passengers couldn’t help but see it?

I travel by train a lot when I visit London, which from my town is generally a 3 hour journey, and I can honestly say, that I never have. I’ve seen plenty of people reading Tom Clancy and John Grisham-type books, but not ‘obvious’ romance’s. I think that’s really sad, and as long as readers, and authors alike don’t stand up, and say, “yeah, I read/write romance books, so what of it”, we’ll continually have the so-called ‘serious book readers/writers’ looking down their noses at us, even though we all know that romance books account for something like 50% of overall readership.