Wednesday, May 05, 2010

And the answer is . . .

So yesterday I had avery quick (blink and you'll miss it) interview with Radio Kent - and that question came up again.

No, not the 'formula' one. Or even the 'How many of those do you churn out . . .' one. No this was the even more basic, even more frequently repeated one:

'Why do you think these books are so popular.'

So I gave the interviewer some answers - like the fact that they are about relationships and we are all fascinated by relationships. That they are about couples/people . . .ditto. They are 'comfort reads' where you know that you are going to get a happy ending and not be left disappointed. They deal in universal themes, appeal to international audiences. They are women's reads, easy to pick up and get into when you're tired, pressed for time . . .

But then I checked out some newspapers on-line and there was another major reason. Yet another celebrity - a TV star this time - admitting to having cheated on his wife, the mother of his children. He wanted to be open and honest, he said. He had been irresponsible.

Irresponsible? He'd been unfaithful. And apparently he was only admitting it now because his mistress had threatened to reveal all. (And there's 'mistress' used in the 'bit on the side' meaning, not the 'just his lover/not married partner ' romance type of meaning.)

And there's another reason why romances are popular. Readers want to know that it is possible to work through problems, weather the inevitable storms, dig deep into what brought you together in the first place and overcome the temptations/boredom/fights that inevitable come up along the way. They want to know that liars and cheaters are not heroes - not for me anyway. They want to feel that love and faithfulness can last and not be destroyed because a younger model/ glamorous other woman - any other woman is available. Tiger Woods, Ashley Cole, John Terry, Mark Owen . . . the list grows every day. And to be honest, I'm tired of reading about them. I'd much rather read stories like this one about childhood sweethearts who eloped to get married as teens become Britain's youngest golden anniversary couple.

Or read romances that show couples working through things and finding the real value in a relationship. It always makes me smile - wryly - when romance writers are given a bad press for giving readers an unrealistic image of love and marriage. Hmm . . . That probably comes from someone who hasn't read one but who 'knows' the books are just full of roses/chocolates/and women being swept off their feet by billionaires.

My books are about couples doing the working things through thing.

That's one of the reasons why I write them. And why I read them.

What about you? Why do you read romance? Why do you think they are so popular? I still have some prize books to give away in the birthday celebrations week. So I'd love to hear from you.

Oh - and talking of interviews - today the Babe Magnet and I had another(much longer) interview with Judy Theobald from Radio Lincolnshire - and we ended up talking about, and looking back on some of the major rows we'd had in 37 + years we've been together. So yes, I do believe it can happen. You can hear the interview on Sunday at 1.00 pm if you're interested. We also talked about writing and books and other things.


Laney4 said...

I love HEAs. I love being taken away somewhere I've never been before but also revisiting places. I love finishing a book in about 1.5 hours so I'm not up all night turning page after page. I love the buildup and following all the bumps in life. I love realistic storylines and conversations, as well as witty dialogues. I'm Laney4 and I love romances.

Mary said...

I didn't start reading books for pleasure until I was 16 and I started with Horror, at times I still read horror when I want a scare. But for me reading a romance, no matter what genre it is ie...paranormal, superromance, western, a way to get out of my own life and get transported into another world where my own problems don't exist for that moment.

robynl said...

I read them because one meets new friends between the pages of a book; one can transport to a place one has never been to and learn some exciting things about said place; one can relax while enjoying a book; one can forget troubles whilst reading; one can be happy about getting a HEA at the end of the book.

Jill said...

Thank you for this. I needed it today! A dear friend of mine who has very different reading taste from mine read a romance novel (on someone else's recommendation, not mine, I knew better:-)).
Since then she has been on a kick telling me how awful this book is (when she knows it is one of my favorite books) and I have been trying to explain to her what a romance is and why I like them.
And she stopped me and said "I think we're going on different definitions. To me the romance in a book is the part where the two people go to bed."
And I said, "that can be part of a romance novel, but the important thing is that the book is about the people working through their relationship and talking things out."
And she said. "Well, I'm never going to like a romance novel then. Those people talked more about their relationship than I ever had about any of mine in my entire life!" She was flabberghasted that anyone would rather read about relationships rather than supernovas and evil villains.
Fair enough, but very discouraging to have defend the genre in this day in age.
As for why I like romance novels? I like stories with strong female characters who win. They don't have to be "kick butt" or slay vampires, but any good emotional story where a woman gets her happy ending does it for me.
Heroes are great too of course :-)


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