For all the detractors who claim romance novels are unrealistic fluffy trash meant to be devoured at beaches when you want to give your brain a rest from the hard parts of life, this anonymous letter ought to make you realize that romance writers aren't lumpable into a single category, nor dismissable as hacks. (NOTE: This letter is not for the faint of heart. I believe there is a warning when you start reading, but if not, consider yourself warned.)
For a look into the life of a brilliant, beautiful, and talented romance writer, this article about my fellow Hawaii chaptermate Jane Porter shows you just how smart and well-spoken a romance author can be. Yay to Jane for not making excuses about her writing! She tells a good story and she's proud of it. She's an auto-buy for me, not simply because I know and admire her, but because she writes thought-provoking stories that resonate with me.
Fellow Heart of Dixie chapter member Linda Winstead Jones is in the running for Best Romance Novel of 2007 on Amazon.com! Her book, Raintree: Haunted was one of the Raintree trilogy stories (Linda Howard and Beverly Barton wrote the other two). If you read and loved the series, you can vote for her here.
I'm thinking of Simon and Garfunkel, of course, and replacing Joe Dimaggio with LK.
I received an order from Amazon yesterday, and as I greedily handled the books I'd ordered, I realized something. There was only one historical in the bunch. (And only one straight contemp that didn't feature suspense or some version of a vampire, demon, shapeshifter, whatever, but that's another story.)
What happened to the long, lush, character driven historical romances of yore? Where is Laura and why isn't NY throwing petals at her feet? I know she burned out, I know she had trouble, but my God, the woman came back with Shadowheart. This is the woman who wrote Flowers from the Storm, Seize the Fire, and The Shadow and the Star. Not to mention The Prince of Midnight, The Dream Hunter, and For My Lady's Heart. (Okay, my command-copy-paste fingers are getting tired. Go to Amazon. Search for Kinsale.) 🙂
She wrote a book with dialogue in Middle English. She wrote some of the most lush prose ever. She made me weep with longing to write like that. She also depressed me because I knew I never could.
I didn't like all her books. I wasn't a Midsummer Moon fan. It wasn't the prose or the storytelling so much as it was the ditzy heroine. I just couldn't connect with her. But, damn, I still admired the craft. Disliking characters is better than being indifferent to them. 🙂
I started thinking about this because of a discussion over at The Soapbox Queens the other day. Brenda Chin was talking about her first romance novel and how it changed her life. Woodiwiss cropped up quite a lot in the comments, and deservedly so. But, if I'd thought more about it at the time, I'd have realized that it was Kinsale who affected me the most.
I miss the woman. I checked out her website, found a post from nearly 2 years ago where she stated she wasn't selling her latest book because NY wanted dark and she'd written light for a change. She had offers, but they weren't what she wanted, so she shelved it. That, my friends, is a tragedy.
My fabulously talented critique partner and I have been discussing this for a while. She's sick of suspense (though she sweetly reads my stuff anyway and offers great suggestions). She wants big contemps that are character driven — the SEPs and Rachel Gibsons — novels without a car chase, dead body, or explosion (oops, the current WIP has all three).
I agree. There's room for a lot more variety than we're getting right now. I do seem to be picking up a lot of paranormal these days, but is that because they're there or because I'd pick them up anyway? Not sure, though I do enjoy the good ones. Just like I enjoy any good romance.
How about you? Is there any writer you miss? Are you sick of certain trends? Or do you think they'll continue?
(No 70 days update tonight as I'll be going to dinner and a concert with hubby and parents. But, so far today, I've made half my word count…)
Edited to add: All this talking about Kinsale got me distracted into searching up stuff on her. I found two posts over at the Smart Bitches where they do lightning reviews of all her books. Only one book got less than an A grade from them (which, if you follow the SBs, you know is pretty amazing). Go read if you're interested….