Well, I do declare! (fans self) I am positively weak in the knees about this highfalutin Round Robin topic for May. Okay. I hope you read that in a Southern Belle drawl and thought some serious Gone with the Wind. Adjust your bodice and grab yourself a gentleman or lady of your choosing...or maybe just slip on a white tee and hop in the cab of a pickup truck, because our topic is as follows: What changes have your seen in romance novels in the past decade? Is there a change in romance novel direction? Is there still a market for non-explicit sex stories?
Here's where I have to draw a line in the sand. The truth is, I don't read "romance" novels. But, to be truthful, romance novels can mean a thousand different things. One, they could be those three-dollar paperbacks that my allergy doctor told me his English teacher wrote and begged me not to when I admitted to him I wanted to be a writer. I was, like, twelve. You know the ones I mean. Every guy looks like Fabio and the girl is usually throwing her head back and is probably wearing minimal coverage? (I have nothing against these books or the people who read/write them, just to be clear. To each his own! I've just never picked one up and do not plan to.)
Two, romance novel could mean a book like Juliet by Anne Fortier, or Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray (Ahahaha, the stipulations were last decade so I can't go back to Shakespeare, but these are nearly as good.) These focus plotwise on people falling in love. Or three, a romance novel might merely be a book where romance takes place. The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare have a whole lotta romance going on, but there's also magical creatures, lots of fighting for lives and existential crises. See what I'm getting at? Definitions are hard, but I'll try to answer the questions.
So, changes? I guess when I was younger, "romance" meant crawling back into the ethos of the library shelves and emerging with dogeared copies of Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility. It meant dusty stories of snotty Brits whose phrasing hurt my brain as much as the dust awakened the wrath of my allergy-induced asthma. (To this day I've only ready the kiddie illustrated versions of these books because I was about ten and they didn't speak to me. Perhaps I'll try the normal text versions?)
Now, romance is all kinds of stuff. I feel like it's really branched out, but maybe that's just me. Romance now invites all kinds. I know LGBT romance books are getting published now, and not as simply 'taboo,' because people are finally getting more accepting. That's a thing I've seen a lot of recently and it makes me happy. Besides sexual orientation, romance isn't just the sort of rich/poor, historical, Dickensian tropes they used to be. Romance also tends not to be the super-duper, in-your-face focus anymore. The most romantic-heavy thing I've read in a while is Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, and even that had other stuff going on. The Lunar Chronicles is all focused on love, but also revolution. I think I've made my point. Love is still prevalent, but it's not all smoldering eyes and running off.
Howdy, friends! Today is Study Day, a supposed day of rest before Finals rear their ugly head and toss anyone at college into Dante's ninth circle of hell (shout out to my classmate who hit me with this phrase the other day and gained my eternal respect). I've been pretty busy between end-of-semester work and study abroad shenanigans, AND I'm writing a story about a VERY complex art heist, but something occurred to me.
Life never turns out the way you plan. And that's okay.
Take me, for example. When I was little, I could roll around on the floor and scream because I didn't want to learn how to read. I didn't know my letters and just memorized the alphabet song. I would shriek that reading was "killing me". I was a weird little science kid. I mean, at one point I wrote out a list of all the things I wanted to be when I grew up. For some reason I remember it avidly, sitting on my parents' bed at my old house and scribbling on a piece of drawing paper. Some of my career prospects were to be a
*scuba diver, marine biologist and oceanographer
*archaeologist (specifically an Egyptologist so I could explore the pyramids)
*paleontologist (I really, really was fascinated by dinosaurs and had all kinds of books about them when I was about seven.)
*astronaut (I also hand-wrote and illustrated a book all about space and begged my parents for a telescope. Me and my dad found a star with four planets surrounding it.)
*work with Jane Goodall to study chimps
*nature photographer for National Geographic
Like I said, hardcore science. I really wanted to tread where few humans dared. Jane Goodall was my hero; spending her life with chimps and helping them (my mom has always had this joke where my real family is a gorilla family; I'm not even really sure how that started). I still would trip over myself to work for NG, but I hardly think about dinos anymore after someone told me that being an archaeologist/paleontologist is just sitting in a hole brushing away dirt. And astronaut? No way. The only way you'd get me in a spaceship was if you told me JK Rowling was sitting inside the cock pit. I've no clue what happened to the whole marine biologist thing. I think it's because science is not my forte. Well--MATH is not my forte and it has a close courtship with science.
The thought is, if you'd told 20/20 vision, eight-year-old me that I'd grow up to need glasses and hadn't so much as been in a jungle and photographed a toucan yet, she would be very displeased. However, I have WRITTEN about Egyptian ruins, been to the ocean, know a thing or two about anthropology and even have taken some courses on astronomy! If you mentioned that I'd been to Peru, was semi-bilingual and wanted a job in the same historic field as Indiana Jones, she might just get excited. (Just don't mention how I mean more bow-ties and glasses than the whip and fedora!)
What did you guys want to be when you were little? Were you as out-there as I was, or did you follow the doctor-lawyer-teacher frame of mind? Oh, also I burned to go to Julliard to be an actress when I was about fifteen. :)