Offended & Bewildered

It’s not the first time I write a blog about the many frustrations of being a romance writer and not be taking seriously. This is one of them.

I recently attended a writing event as a panelist where I was once again reminded of what people (including or especially other writers) think a romance is. They conveniently forget that the great ones of literature such as Jane Austen, The Bronte sisters, and even–gulp–the Great Bard were all romance writers.

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Yes, the genre has gone through some significant changes throughout the years (some good, some bad) and I’ll be the first one to admit that there are a lot of really bad romance novels out there. This, however, can be said about any other genre today. There are excellent high fantasy books just as there are some absolutely awful. Same can be said of mystery, science fiction, and everything in between. Even high-brow literature has its winners and losers. I can think of at least one Pulitzer Prize prize winner who wrote a book that made zero sense whatsoever.

So to bundle up every romance book and label it “porn” is not only offensive but totally incorrect.

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Anyone who knows me well will tell you I abhor porn. To me, porn objectifies people of every gender (but especially women) and trivializes sex. Don’t get me wrong. There is sex in my romances, heat level depending on the plot and the characters. These are love stories and where there is love eventually, and in most cases, there will be a communion of bodies as much as of hearts. But a loving sex scene should not be confused with porn. If you think my love scenes are porn, then you must have led a very sheltered life.

When someone at this writing event insinuated (quite loudly in a  room full of people) that I wrote porn and therefore what I wrote would not make its way to the group online page or anthology, I was extremely offended. It’s been boiling just under the surface since then and I’ve considered posting something to the effect, because I feel that by not defending my writing is admitting that I do indeed write porn. Which I don’t.

This reminds me of when the Harry Potter books were first released. There was such a fuss made by certain religious groups about the evil nature of such stories. They called for boycotts of the books and other extreme reactions to a wonderful fictional world that depicted good against evil. I was shocked to find out that many of the people running their mouths about the books had never read as much as the first chapter. How can you judge something if you’ve never read, or at least sample parts of it?

This person who accused me of writing porn has never read any of my books, so how does she know what my writing is like? Why didn’t she refrain from making assumptions before sampling one of my books? All she did was show how ignorant she is about the genre. One silver lining though: I am now determined to show up to a book open mic event and show everybody that my books are well written and have depth. I want to prove to all who have sneered at my books that romance is not the sex fest they think it is. Not my type of romance and not a lot of romance I read and love. Let’s not judge a whole group of authors and their books by a few.

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What do you think? Are you a reader that believes romance to be a low-form of literature or are you willing to set your assumptions aside and give romance a chance? Or any other genre for that matter.

For those who still think romance is the black sheep of the literary family and a mere venue for pornographic voyeurism, here are some readings that may make you change your mind:

Inventing Human Rights: A History by Lynn Hunt

Where Are Romance Novels Headed (Chicago Tribune)

9 thoughts on “Offended & Bewildered

  1. I’m nto the biggest romance reader, but I certianly wouldn’t class it as a lower form of literature. Really, as a genre, it’s as varied as any other if you go looking, so to assume that it would all fall under a set of preconcieved ideas about the genre seems daft. I’ll give any book a chance if the story appeals, regardless of the genre.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That is one mixed up lady if she thinks Romance and Porn are the same thing. They are totally different genres, and as romance is the most popular and best selling, often read by more mature ladies, she is implying anyone of a certain age is a raving sex maniac. It would be laughable if it hadn’t upset you. Treat her with the disdain she deserves. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s so discourteous and cruel. A good story is a good story. A great many books have some sort of romance in them simply because they have people in them and falling in love is one of the things people tend to do. Whether the emphasis is on that or something else is, in my view, the only difference in terms of genre. There is nothing wrong with a romance. And you are quite right to be angry. Not only were you given no opportunity to refute the claims but to be targeted like that in public by someone who has nothing to base her claims on is appalling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Romance is like everything else: there’s good and bad and to judge a whole (very successful and popular) genre by a erroneous preconceived idea is just wrong. Too bad for her though. She’s missing out on some very good stories.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Until I read the Dark-Hunter series, I didn’t know much about romances. But Sherrilyn Kenyon was my introduction into this genre and the sex scenes, while very well, ahem, depicted are a small part of the overall story.

    Even the one story where the main character’s Mount Everest was definitely to have sex, the book was not about the sex but about the characters. Definitely not porn.

    People like your critic are the sort that have to be convinced that the sky is blue. They get an idea of what something is and nothing can shake them of that.

    Liked by 1 person

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