Aug 20 2013
Bobbi Dumas is a Madison, Wisc.-based freelance writer who loves romance, a mesmerizing story and the company of friends. She reviews for Kirkus, writes about the romance genre for NPR (her most popular piece was the In Defense of Romance essay published last winter) and is the founder of ReadARomanceMonth.com. Hope you’ll stop by!
(First, thank you Jane for having me here, and for helping to spread the word about ReadARomanceMonth.com)
If you’re here at the wonderful Dear Author blog, then you read romance.
And if you read romance, chances are you have had the experience – at least once in your life, though I’m guessing many, many more times – of someone telling you that romances are stupid, or unrealistic, or beneath you.
If you write romance, I’m sure at least one person – if not a thousand – has asked you when you’re going to write a “real” book.
As if what you read, or write, or love, doesn’t matter.
Well. Romance matters. We know it. We’ve created a whole universe of fans, writers, readers, editors, agents and bloggers who live off of these “silly” books, both materially and spiritually.
It’s a billion dollar industry, romance. It’s the best selling segment of the publishing every year. It’s the driving force behind the exploding sales of e-books. It’s one of the few successful enterprises that is created mainly for women, by women, and yet we are somehow always asked to defend our choice to love it.
I love romance. My goal is to someday live in world where it is simply a given that many women love romance novels, and that no one expects those of us who do to apologize for it. My husband doesn’t read romance novels, and that’s okay. I’m not interested in woodworking. A lot of people don’t like woodworking, but they don’t automatically make my husband the butt of their jokes at a dinner party because he does.
The same cannot be said of me and my love for romance.
Romance is uplifting, optimistic and pro-woman. It makes us feel better, even when we’re at our worst. And it supports women, emotionally, psychologically and even financially in a way no other industry does, that I can think of.
I feel so strongly about romance and the romance genre, that I created a month long celebration of romance at ReadARomanceMonth.com. Yes, I realize many of you read more than one romance a month, but think of it more as celebrating the fact that we read – and love – romances.
I asked 93 authors to write content on the idea that Romance Matters, three a day through the month of August. These are some of the biggest names in romance: Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Mary Jo Putney, Jayne Ann Krentz, Mary Balogh, Susan Mallery, Jill, Shalvis, Suzanne Brockmann, Kristin Higgins – the list goes on and on.
They have created essays that touch the full spectrum of emotions. They are witty, profound, heart-wrenching, funny, angry, defiant. They are beautiful and brilliant and a must-read for anyone who reads romance. These authors get it, and they’re right there with you.
Come visit and take a look around. Whether you want to pick up the rallying cry and become a militant advocate — (Maya Rodale has some great reasons as to why romance is feminism, and Lucy March/Lani Diane Rich gets up on a horse named Betty and rejects the premise that anyone should be asked to defend anything they do, or read) — or decide to simply curl up and lose yourself in your next great read (Christina Dodd tells us to relax. Romance readers have more sex and live longer anyway.)
The fact is, there are millions of women — and some men — out there who read romance, from all walks of life, every age group and income level. We love the journey, the adventure, the Black Moment, the surprise save. We love the first kiss and the sexy love scene, or the moment when the awesome heroine figures out how to save the hero – physically or emotionally. (Though sometimes, the hero saves the heroine.)
Because really, isn’t that what the modern romance is all about? Two people learning to solve their problems and create a world where they can be together, just as they were meant to be? A man and a woman (or, increasingly, two men or two women) who become their best selves, who save each other so they can create a life together, more whole and complete than they’ve ever been?
We love the dramatic moment when their souls are bared and they have to admit their love; when it becomes clear that they’ve brought each other to their metaphorical — well, and sometimes physical — knees, because they belong together and life has only become technicolor since they’ve figured that out.
It’s the rush of passion and emotion and the perfect romantic sigh. It’s the always-present promise of a happy-ever-after.
What about you? What makes you love romance? And when you’ve just finished a great romance, do you want to go back and read the best parts again, or do you rush off to find another book by the same author?
Also, do you argue with cynics? Or do you simply walk away, and look for the next great read?