WARNING: this is a no-edit zone…
I’ve just spent an hour or so taking a look at changes coming about in 2006, and it seems everyone is shifting to hop on the erotica bandwagon.
It should come as no surprise that this isn’t particularly welcome news to me. Not passing judgments on it as a sub-genre, but I don’t write it, don’t read it, and I do believe that it serves to perpetuate the view that I and many others who write novels with strong romantic elements have fought for years. Our books are NOT all about sex.
I’m looking ahead and seeing that this turn in our genre is going to foster public opinion to the contrary. And that means the sneers, snide remarks, and views that the books ARE all about sex are going to be coming back with a vengeance. More than anything, I think of it and feel weary.
I’m not of the opinion that it’s my job to defend the romance genre. Love holds its own in our society–no problem. But the notions that go along with erotica are in the minds of so many akin to porn. Just the loose association is enough to make one’s skin crawl, particularly when you’ve spent the last six months investigating porn and its impact on children, as I have.
I’m disturbed. Yes, and a little sad, too. I know, I know. Sex sells. While the right to write whatever is a matter of choice, the matter of association isn’t. And I find myself wondering if the genre as a whole will benefit or suffer from those associations.
I don’t have the answer. I have no idea. But I find myself feeling very uneasy at the possibilities. For years, I’ve watched writers–and been one of them–who have faced the media, civic groups, and other writers and talked about the merits of what many of these people called “the romance ghetto” before erotica came into the picture. With virtually all of the major publishers taking the plunge into it now (or very soon), I expect that getting anyone to open their mind long enough to hear those merits is going to be more difficult than ever.
Ideally, I suppose, Erotica would be its own genre. But convincing marketing to willingly pull away from the financial benefits of romance affiliation makes that a pipedream that just isn’t going to happen. And so those of us associated with the genre but not writing “hot or sexy” books, are going to take a giant step back–to where we were before we began educating the public on what our books were about. Before we began devoting significant resources to correct public misconceptions about the romance genre “image.”
From the looks of things, we should have saved our money.
This trend of course raises questions, and I expect many who are currently associated with the genre will be rethinking their associations and reevaluating to determine whether or not to continue them.
Some will leave the genre.
Some will continue their associations and cease public speaking engagements to avoid feeling embarrassed at being painted by a brush that isn’t theirs, but one they’ll be called on to defend.
Some will keep their associations intact and continue the merit battle.
Some will say this is just another cycle–and duck until it passes.
And some will say to hell with it all, write their books and leave the worrying to someone else.
The last option looks awfully tempting, but I don’t know yet which group I’ll be in. Need to study it a bit more, think it through, and then make the call.
In the interim, I’d like to know what you think about this and its impact on the genre. If you like, email me your comments. I’ll gather them for a couple weeks and them post them all here.
12/2005 WAR GAMES #5, DOUBLE DARE
1/2006: ONE WAY TO WRITE A NOVEL
2/2006: IT GIRLS #6, BULLETPROOF PRINCESS
3/2006: THE PROPHET’S LADY
4/2006: HER PERFECT LIFE
6/2006: COMMON SENSE GUIDE FOR WRITERS
RT Reviewer’s Choice Best Romantic Suspense Novel of the Year