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Jeannie Lin has blogged in the past about whether cultural differences can impair a buy in for a less Western themed romance and happy ever after. It would be interesting to read a native Chinese romance. The ones that have come from India and published by Harlequin Mills & Boon have seemed to present recognizable Western love characteristics but that may be due to the taste of the M&B publishing team Science of Relationships

While the article speaks to the different types of editors and gives some hint as to where to find them, it doesn’t really say what to look for in a good editor. I’ve heard some horror stories from self published authors who’ve paid for editing and received error ridden manuscripts in return. One of the things that Book Country by Penguin purported to offer was a way to crowdsource the ranking of editors and other author services providers. This is really something that’s needed but I don’t think Book Country has pulled it off. Publishers Weekly

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

7 Comments

  1. Jeannie Lin
    Nov 12, 2013 @ 09:22:36

    I haven’t read a native Chinese modern romance, but I might pose that the differences might not be so obvious, but the emphasis on family would probably be prevalent. I was speaking to Cecilia Grant recently and remarked upon the end of A Gentleman Undone, wondering if readers found the ending less satisfying because the couple ends up together, but they go against his family and he ends up estranged from his brother. This might be my Asian side speaking. In Western romances, it’s quite common to rebel against an unreasonable and even evil parent to gain happiness – I’m throwing out a few quick examples: Claiming the Courtesan, Passion, any number of “my unreasonable Duke father said in his will that I have to ______”. It’s considered extra romantic to defy your family and find love despite them. However, in the case of A Gentleman Undone, I got the sense that the hero was still troubled by his estrangement from his family at the end of the book (The family issues are further addressed in A Women Entangled, BTW) but this kept me from feeling complete HEA satisfaction at the end of AGU because the family was not at harmony.

    On another note, vilifying the family is something I always find very difficult to do in Chinese romance, though it’s a common trope in Western romance. In my heart, I know people come from somewhere and are built not only by their parents but by generations of family history. If your dad or mum is really such an evil slimeball, then where does all your noble goody-goodness come from? It rings false when I see a character who is inherently good sprout from people who are shallow, greedy, and rotten to the core. On the other hand, I love the tropes where the hero broods that maybe he is just as bad as his father, etc.

    I know there are plenty of real-life examples of people going against that and becoming better than their upbringing, but in terms of cultural differences, it’s interesting that breaking away from your past and finding independence is emphasized in Western and especially American tropes and honoring your family is emphasized in Asian tropes.

    And when I say I’m Asian in this way of thought, keep in mind I was born in the US, educated completely in the US and am very much Americanized. But these cultural beliefs are still here in my DNA. :)

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  2. library addict
    Nov 12, 2013 @ 09:48:25

    @Jeannie Lin: I don’t mind the good-offspring-from-evil-parents so long as it is established in the text that the hero or heroine was influenced by her/his grandparents or a friend’s parents or something. I think Nora Roberts and others do a good job of this in certain books. A recent example is Dark Witch in which the heroine’s mother was rather indifferent but her grandmother insured she had riding lessons, etc. It does make me wonder how the grandmother raised a daughter who turned out the way she did, but at least the issue is addressed.

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  3. Jeannie Lin
    Nov 12, 2013 @ 10:56:22

    @library addict:

    Don’t get me wrong, the effed up family is great conflict, because where else does the source of all our angst come from? :) I agree that seeing the nuanced portrayals of family are much more compelling and believable. In “Ain’t She Sweet”, we get a sense of how the socialite heroine’s mother set her up as a diva, but how it provided her a bit of armor and strength on one side as much as it made her a mean girl on the other.

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  4. Evangeline
    Nov 12, 2013 @ 12:21:12

    @Jeannie Lin: I love to write about the vagaries and nuances of families because most of my immediate and extended family have a history of brokenness, strife, divorce, etc etc. When I sit down to write, the book isn’t just about the romance between the h/h–it’s about their relationship with their siblings, their parents, their cousins, their aunts, their grandfathers, and so on, on top of their relationship with society, with money, with their occupations, with their friends. This usually leads to ginormous word counts, lol, but I guess what I write is both aspirational and therapeutic.

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  5. Wahoo Suze
    Nov 12, 2013 @ 14:25:27

    This past summer, I had a conversation with a young friend of Punjabi Sikh extraction about problematic relatives. She said that when you’re brown, you have to just put up with jerk relatives. I said that (north american) white people are almost exhorted to leave behind their family of origin in order to follow their bliss or fulfill their destiny. Really contrasting ideas about personal responsibility.

    In fact, I distinctly remember there was a huge self-help movement in the 80s or 90s that was all about identifying that your family of origin was the root of all your psychological problems, and cutting the ties in order to have a happier, more fulfilling life.

    One of the things I really liked about Bend It Like Beckham and My Big Fat Greek Wedding was that the source of the heroines’ angst and conflict was wanting to be happy AND not make their families unhappy.

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  6. Carolyne
    Nov 12, 2013 @ 16:04:23

    This reminds me of the shock of discovering that “everyone” in my university dorm hated their parents. I felt very weird not to be able to join in. Yes, my relatives may be a strange conglomeration of aristocratically-minded weirdos with only tenuous claim to it (maternal side) and loud firebrands (father’s side–”firebrand” being the nice word for “flat-out lunatic, do not mix with alcohol”), but they’re family. It wouldn’t stop me from writing about bizarre family relationships, peculiar fathers, disastrous mothers. But they always remain family, unshakably. You just have to put up with jerk relatives :) On the other hand, it doesn’t stop me from reading about all the brooding second sons whose fathers hate them (for being creative or bookish, or for the mother dying in childbirth, or for looking like the milkman, or for falling in love with the milkman). But it does seem horribly sad that, as @Wahoo Suze describes it, the conflict so often isn’t about balancing self and family but about overcoming and discarding one’s birth family to create a new one for the HEA. Stories like My Big Fat Greek Wedding feel richer and more satisfying, though, and I’d love to read more romances that show the deep importance and entanglement of family ties and obligations even if I’m not very familiar with the culture.

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  7. Renda
    Nov 12, 2013 @ 17:56:55

    @library addict:

    My grandmother was a very cold woman, quite indifferent to my mother and her siblings. But my mother is a very warm, caring woman, one of those that strangers just walk up to and tell their life story to. You just never know.

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