Genre Continued

Today on her website, Lauren is talking about her Pink series and genre.  It’s entertaining to see that, in its lifetime, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation has come full circle.  When she first gave it to her agent, Lauren thought she had written a romance novel.  Her publisher told her she had “invented historical chick lit,” then she was published and promoted in that nebulous world of “Fiction/Literature.”  Years later, Lauren has people asking her if she knows her books are romance novels.  I’m telling you, we just LOVE to label things.

The problem with calling Lauren’s books romance novels seems to stem from the fact that “Romance” as a genre is a really divisive topic.  People tend to fall firmly into the “love it” or “hate it” camps and then stick their fingers in their ears in hum when someone from the opposing camp tries to talk to them.  People can be so aggressive about judging books, and I know I’ve found myself feeling defensive when people who know I was an English teacher ask me what books I read for pleasure.  How many of us have had that experience where we’re lost in a good book, minding our own business, and someone snaps us out of our reverie with an exclamation of “I can’t believe YOU are reading THAT.”  Good grief.  Lauren has had that experience herself as both an author and a reader.  I am a firm believer that no one should be ashamed to read what they love.  Call the Pinks whatever you want.  I’ll just call them great books and say I’m really glad I found them (thanks again, Beth!).

If you’re interested, there is also an interview with Lauren from earlier this week available at Timeless Quills Historical Romance blog (which I’ve just realized I need to follow ASAP).  In this interview, Lauren talks a bit about her two latest releases, her process, and some of her favorite things.

If you’d like to enter the giveaway for the Pink comics, just comment on that post before midnight EST tonight!  I’ll announce the winner tomorrow.  Come back tomorrow and talk to me about The Secret History of the Pink Carnation – if you are keeping pace with me, I’ll be finished with chapter 31 by then.  See you then!

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4 thoughts on “Genre Continued

  1. The problem with calling Lauren’s books romance novels seems to stem from the fact that “Romance” as a genre is a really divisive topic. People tend to fall firmly into the “love it” or “hate it” camps and then stick their fingers in their ears in hum when someone from the opposing camp tries to talk to them.

    This was exactly how I feel (felt?) about chick lit, mainly because the way chick lit is marketed makes it appear to be all about shoes, purses, mean girls, and sisterhood which aren’t all that interesting to me. Romance, yes! Chick lit, not so much. I still haven’t read anything that I would consider strictly chick lit but I did eventually kind of come to enjoy that aspect of the Pink series.

    I know I’ve found myself feeling defensive when people who know I was an English teacher ask me what books I read for pleasure.

    I was an English Education major, but have never taught. Horror of horrors, I ended up as an accountant instead! I have the same problem you describe here, though. People apparently assume that all people who study literature do so because they want to spend their entire lives reading and teaching Very Important Literary Works. Incidentally, the people who tend to assume (at least in my experience) are the people who have never actually read any VILW or who last read them about 30 years ago when they were still in high school and have forgotten most of what they ever knew. I’m forever surprising people who think that the classics are squeaky clean, perfectly innocuous reading!

    This assumption about genre fiction seems especially odd because I would guess that many people who decide to study literature owe a major debt of gratitude to genre fiction. Reading genre fiction is a great way to learn how literature works precisely because of its formulaic aspects. Once you understand the formulas, you can then move on to ponder critical thinking-type questions about the books, like why that particular formula works or whether or not an author’s treatment of the formula is effective. This type of thinking and the ability to read a text closely (which is easier to do when you already understand the basic formula the story is supposed to follow) are the foundation skills for serious study of literature, in my opinion.

    I think that people don’t understand that you don’t have to, at some point, “graduate” from genre fiction. The formulas, in the hands of a particularly skillful writer, are still as enjoyable as ever. It’s even more interesting when authors like Lauren combine aspects of different genres.

    • Heather, you make a lot of good points! Especially the idea that people feel like you need to “graduate” beyond genre fiction. I do love books that have elements of several genres. They tend to hold my attention. With some of my favorite books, I have absolutely no idea what genre to say they are. I just know I love them, but it can be hard to describe them to others.

  2. ” Years later, Lauren has people asking her if she knows her books are romance novels.”

    I find this so humorous, almost as if it is a sketch comedy where Lauren has zero idea that she has written a romance novel.

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