In Defense of the Romance Novel
On a recent trip to the library, an acquaintance walked up to me and said, “I heard you write romance novels. Do you really read that stuff?”
Mmm, I mused, how often have I heard that question?
Taking my usual bold stance—on quivering legs—I replied, “Sure, I do. Why not?”
I’ve learned one important thing in my mature years. If I don’t particularly like the question, I’ll ask one of my own. It’ll throw the person off track every time. Well, usually.
“Why not?” my casual friend asked. “Well, for one thing,” she stammered, “they’re…trite, with the same plot in every single book. A learned person wouldn’t waste time on them.”
Of course, by the time I arrived home, my busy brain had made a list of “why I read that stuff, and particularly why I write it.”
Answer Number One: Defending romance novels falls in the same category as defending myself. If I probe for a real answer, the person might say, “A reader of romance usually doesn’t have a life of her own, or a poor love life at best, or she reads to live vicariously through a character.” My reply might be, “Statistics show that 75 million people read at least one romance novel last year. So, you’re saying you know how all these readers feel?”
Answer Number Two: Some romance novels are better than others. True, the first romance novels were written differently from those today, but one might say that about all fiction in general. Advice to my friend-of-the-moment: “Try a romance novel. Begin with a few of the tried and true authors: LaVyrle Spencer (my all-time favorite), Susan Wiggs, Penelope Williamson, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Judith McNaught, Kathleen Eagle, and Karen Robards. Neither you nor anyone else needs to waste time on any bad book. That applies to romance novels, as well.”
Answer Number Three: Perhaps readers and writers of romance are actually readers….period. To my detractor, I might reply: “Oh, by the way, if you’re looking for a good book, you might want to try Guns, Germs, and Steel:The Fates of Societies; The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society; Plainsong; or The Dust Bowl Years. I highly recommend them.” Would that be tacky of me?
Answer Number Four: A simple statement. Reading and writing romance novels are my inalienable rights under the constitution. After all, this is a free country.
Answer Number Five: I’m easily entertained. When I choose a movie, I do not need to select one that has garnered critically acclaimed praise over the entire globe. The same is true with my reading material.
Answer Number Six: In response to the statement “Romance novels are just fairy tales, stories that never happen in real life.” Maybe, maybe not, but I might reply, “Sometimes, I just like to escape reality.”
I’m not the first writer to pen an article titled “In Defense of the Romance Novel.” I Googled the title and found quite a few. By the time I finished reading several, I realized the question, “You don’t read that stuff, do you?” has been repeated many times.
Thank you, LASR, for the opportunity to write a blog for your guest spot.
Celia Yeary-Proud to be a Romance Author
Celia Yeary is a eighth-generation Texan, and her life revolves around family and friends—and writing. San Marcos has been her home for thirty-five years. She has written three romance novels for a small press, essays for the Texas Co-op Power magazine, and several different topics for her weekly blog. She also writes women’s fiction and hopes a publisher comes along who likes these stories, too.
The author is a former science teacher, graduate of Texas Tech University and Texas State, mother of two, grandmother of three, and wife of a wonderful, supportive Texan. Celia and her husband enjoy traveling, involvement in their church, the community, and the university as retired faculty.
New: Texas Blue, a Western Historical set in Texas. Date of Release: January 29, 2010
The Wild Rose Press