Wow, this is an up-to-date blog, isn't it? :( Yesterday, I wrote the beginning of an upcoming At the Back Fence segment for All About Romance. This one will be about antiquated ideas about romance novels. It was fun thinking of examples of snobs acting like twits about romance novels. Sad to say, in this day and age, people actually think they can smirk and mock, and even try to "preach" to the romance readers, as if they have a right to tell them what to read. You can watch soap operas and romantic comedies, and that's generally OK, but if someone learns that you read
romance novels, then God help your soul. I know very well-read, well-educated, intelligent etc. women who read romances as well as lots of other things, and yet, people still give them hard times about it. Even friends and family members who know damn well they are smart. I've learned that you can tell some people all about what romances are really like, and they keep smirking and pretty much accuse you of lying. As if I would lie about a book I like. Phhhhbbbbtttt.
It's not just romance readers, of course -- all genres face some kind of prejudice. Horror, science fiction, fantasy (why do so many people have to refer to LOTR fans as freaks, does it make themselves feel superior?), suspense, etc. There are still some people who think that mystery novels are some kind of "glorification of death," not realizing that the entire genre is about solving the crime, not revelling in it. (These are like the people who think romance novels are all about sex sex sex.) And of course, people think horror novels are all about blood and gore, not realizing -- sometimes through willful ignorance, I think -- that the genre is more than that. Why would they think if they read one of the "quiet horror" stories by Ramsey Campbell, or for that matter, Aickman? Not to mention M. R. James. It would no doubt shatter their misperceptions -- if they let it. They might prefer to hold on to their misperceptions, and make excuses. (After all, I've heard of anti-romance people who manage to read a romance they like, often romantic suspense or something by Nora Roberts, and then say "But that wasn't a romance." Honey, it's a romance, and your perceptions are whacked. At least own up to being wrong
A Long Anecdote about a Comic Book Store
Then there was that one night I was in the comic book store, back when I used to buy quite a few titles. This was when I was in my early 20s, working on my first job (an editing job for an enviromental engineer). I was waiting in line with a fairly large stack of comics -- but in part, that was because I only came in every couple of weeks or so. That night, a school teacher was in the store, buying comic books for reluctant readers in her class. She had a great idea there, and I give her kudos for thinking of it, going to the trouble, and checking with the staff to find out what books were suitable.
On the other hand, she seemed ... awkward ... about the whole thing. Then, she started up a conversation with me. She noticed the large stack of comic books I was buying, so she made some kind of comment about it. Then came the inevitable question... "Is that all you read?"
(As if it was any of her business! When you think about it, what a question to ask!)
Boy, did it feel good to say, "Of course not. In fact, I've written three novels." She became quiet fast! I hope she walked away with some of her misperceptions smooshed into little smears. Then again, maybe she completely forgot about the incident or, at best, preferred to think about me as the "exception." Oh, well. At least I hope she was able to help the reluctant readers learn that reading can be (gasp!) fun.