I wrote romance novels for a while in my younger years. I wasn't successful in getting one published, but it wasn't for lack of trying. During that time, I was repeatedly, relentlessly insulted.
Comments like, "You're writing bodice rippers?" were commonplace. I brushed them off, deciding I'd laugh all the way to the bank someday. Besides, it beat whatever they'd be doing for a living for the rest of their lives.
I've been writing young adult and children's fiction for so long, I'd almost forgotten what it was like to be made to feel bad about your novel's subject matter. I've yet to hear anyone insult me for writing children's literature.
Late last week I received a painful reminder. As news broke that HarperCollins is buying Harlequin, I found myself wincing as I read one insult after another.
The whole thing made me stop and think--just what is it about romance novels that bring so much ridicule? Is it Fabio?
Because we should be over that by now, right?
Interestingly, in the very articles that were ridiculing the genre, reporters repeatedly acknowledged how well romance novels sell. If something is that much of a hit, it will likely always bring negativity for one reason...
But I think a large part of it is that romance novels are a female-dominated domain. Women like Nora Roberts have built entire enterprises on those so-called "beach reads," bringing women together all over the world. Since sci-fi/fantasy, suspense, and horror novels are equally enjoyable on vacation, that leaves one differentiating factor.
Romance novels are read and written by women.
What do you think? Why are people so condescending toward the romance genre?