Sunday, August 31, 2008

Romance Is NOT A Bad Word!







Couple at Sunset
©LK Hunsaker 2007


Maybe it is nowadays.

I posted last night on a romance list about people turning suddenly away at my book signing yesterday when they heard the word "romance," as though I was a leper. I wanted to know if others had the same experience. Turns out they have. And fortunately, their potential readers sometimes explained why they were turning away. It seems a majority of current novels entitled "romance" are much too graphic for many readers. They have found it so often, they refuse to buy romance from new authors, instead scouring garage sales for older romances that are safer.

Is anyone really surprised? We can't go anywhere without sex slammed in our faces. We promote contraceptive use for teenagers and balk at any mention of maybe ... uh, NOT having sex. Heaven forbid teenagers/young people actually abstain until they find a deeply involved committed relationship. We can't have that. And we apparently can't have romance that doesn't include graphic sexual acts.

I had a friend fuss about the first book of Rehearsal because ... (no spoilers here) well, sometimes sex doesn't need to happen and sometimes it didn't when it could have. Enough said at the moment. Several others, however, sent reviews applauding the moral character of the story, how refreshing it was. (Don't get the wrong idea.. it's not preachy, it's emotionally explorative.)

What is wrong with us if we can't have a relationship without sex? If we can't have romance without sex? If we can't teach our young people it's quite okay not to have sex before they're emotionally ready?

Why should I feel like an outcast if I want to read romance novels without graphic scenes? You know how hard it is to find recently? Apparently, readers do. Apparently, there is a large population of readers out there who do want romance without verbal graphics. Who want story and characterization and care about how something is written. Why should the ultra-liberal idea of sex any time anywhere with anyone force us all to read about it or have it shoved in our faces? Like anything, the smallest, most vocal group expressing their own freedoms is infecting all of us.

Yes, there can be romance without explicit scenes. If you want the full details, fine and dandy. It doesn't mean we should all have to have it. And, if you want that, don't bother with my work. You won't ever find it there.

Sometimes, romance is actual romance. It does not equal sex. Maybe those writing graphic romance should have to call it erotica instead of romance and help the rest of us not be shunned by those who don't want that.


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1 comment:

TC said...

I'm curious about something, but I'll hold off and mention it last.
"Harlequin Romance" always comes to mind when I hear or see a book with the word "romance" on the cover. And I never even read that genre. I admit that I probably have a stereotypical view of romance writing caused by what was once called "trashy" romance novels. Again, I never read them but they were on the newsstands and on store bookshelves everywhere you looked, I'm thinking most popular during the 70s. A few of my female friends read them, (and probably a few males too). What made them such a success? I think we both know it had a lot to do with the trash factor. Back then, it wasn't in your face as much as it is now.

And so I think that's why folks might associate "romance" writing with graphic sex. It's unfortunate that they're not willing to at least give your literary romance novels a chance to tell them otherwise.

I was curious about whether or not you took notice of gender and if so, was it mostly males or females who seemed to be "turning suddenly away?"