Thursday, September 29, 2005

Realistic romances

Over on Romancing the Blog today, Sandy Oakes asks:
Do authors back away from making their romances too realistic?

I suspect that part of the problem comes from the publishers wanting to back commercially viable fiction, and not being prepared to take 'risks', and consequent pressures withing the writing community to keep romance 'romancey'. Which is crazy, because there is a *huge* audience out there for a wide diversity of romance - from the lightest, fluffiest sugar-coated romance to dark, gutsy, confronting romance. Heck, there are 50 million romance readers in the US alone, and they aren't all going to like the same thing ;-)

Not all publishers are like this, however. I write at the grittier, realistic end of the scale and have had two full mss requested by NY publishers; in one ms, there's the body of a child on page 1. In another, the heroine is executed in the prologue.

If (when?) they're ever published, readers of the lighter kind of romance, looking for escape, probably won't read my books - but that's fine. Other writers target that sector of the audience, and my books will target another sector. There's plenty enough audience to go round ;-)

I write what I like to read - stories which are affirming because they acknowledge the darkness and problems in the world, yet also acknowledge the strengths and courage that exist within us.

While my stories have a very definite focus on the relationship between the hero and heroine, they're not what I think of as 'pink' books - Romance with a capital R. Mine are more a rich, dark red. I aim to ground my stories in reality, and reality is not always comfortable or happy or easy.

However, since part of the reality in which I believe includes the reality of love as a powerful emotion, (I blogged about this at The Belfry Collective the other day), then my stories do have emotionally satisfying endings - just don't expect pink frilly bows ;-)


ann wesley hardin said...

I love dark books like the ones you write, Bron. It's funny, 'cause I don't like to write them though. Hmmm. Maybe I'll blog about that today in the Belfry *gg*.

But I agree, there's a whole spectrum of emotion in the romance realm from dark to light, murky to bright and it should all be available to readers.

THIS! Christine said...

I adore your stories. They have real depth that (forgive me) you can really dive into and lose yourself in the world and characters you create.

Oh I wish I could remember, but I read a newspaper article/ or watched a documentary, true story, that was so fanatastic that, as a writer, you could never write it simply because it was so fantastically unbelievable... a perfect case of truth is stranger than fiction. If I do remember it, I'll be sure to pop back and tell you.

Bron said...

Thanks, X and Ann! I appreciate your encouragement ;-)

THIS! Christine said...

oh, oh, oh... it was the PBS(? Discovery, TLC, et-al) documentary on the johnstown (johnston?) flood.

A smallish dam broke way up river and by the time it reached Johnstown... well lets just say kitchen sinks were the least of it.

If it were a disaster movie (or book), by the 4th catastrophic event ( and the onslaught still hasn't reached Johnstown yet) the audience would be groaning in disbelief.


Bron said...

X, I googled Johnstown - scary stuff!! And yes, you'd have a hard time writing it in a novel. It's a bit like the Canberra bushfires of a couple of years ago, which started many, many miles away a few days before but wiped out suburbs in the city. If you wrote a story in which a fire jumped a *series* of fire breaks and containment lines and covered 20km in 30 mins, no-one would believe it. But it happened, and 500 houses were destroyed and 4 people killed.

The combination of mother nature and decades of 'it can't happen here and if it does we've got it covered' envirnomental planning decisions can become a very powerful force.