No, not that kind of love, folks, tkhough romance of a sort is the topic of the hour. Tess blogs today on whether (or no-ot) it’s easier to get a gig writing mysteries once you’ve already written romance. Here’s what started her off:
Every so often, I pop over to the newsgroup rec.arts.mystery to check out their latest chatter, and I came across this particular topic: “Do romance writers have an advantage?” It asked, in short, do romance writers have an easier time getting published as mystery authors, and how on earth would such awful writers as Sandra Brown, Janet Evanovich, Nora Roberts, and — ahem, yours truly — ever manage to get their mysteries published otherwise?
Now, anybody who’s published a romance knows it instantly becomes harder to be taken seriously as a writer of anything else save for comic books and Hallmark cards. We have committed the unpardonable sin of writing about (hush now) s-e-x, whether explicit or implied, and must bear the weight of the Scarlet R on our careers. Here’s how Tess puts it:
But romance novelists, as a group, may actually face more challenges than other genre authors when they try to break into mystery. And the reason is written all up and down that discussion thread: many mystery readers loathe a romance plot in any way, shape, or form. Some of them even admitted that if an author at any time in her career ever wrote a romance, they wouldn’t pick up her mystery novel. Their hatred borders on the irrational. They think they are too discriminating and literary for such drivel. A brush of the lips, a longing glance, and BAM! They slam the book shut. They will eagerly devour pages and pages of spattered blood and glistening entrails, but a man and a woman falling in love? Horrors!
Most of the time I think this bias says more about the prudishness of the speaker than the prurience of the written material they complain about. I was on this one list for mystery writers where the talk turned momentarily to the erotic. One irate poster requested that the conversation get back to the “decent” topic she’d signed on to discuss–murder. Into irony much?
Here’s how Tess ends things:
Why do these discussions keep popping up? Beyond sheer ignorance of the romance genre, there’s another theme beneath the surface. And that’s jealousy. Whenever I hear a mystery writer whine, “These ex-romance authors are crowding the mystery market!” I think: “Ah. You can’t sell your book because it’s just plain lousy and no publisher wants it. And you have to find someone else to blame.”
It’s so much easier to blame “those romance novelists” or “the narrow-minded industry” or “ignorant editors” when one’s book doesn’t sell. I’ve taught enough writing courses and read enough amateurish manuscripts to know that there’s a reason that 99% of those manuscripts remain unsold. And I’ve also heard the writers of those same awful manuscripts complain bitterly about how well Patterson or King or Cussler sells when “my book is obviously so much better!”
They have to blame someone. And it might as well be the evil romance writers.