Kristan Higgins Talks About Romance Haters

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Carol Rose

Sep 13, 2014
Indiana, USA
Thank you, Kristan!! <3

I had the extreme pleasure of meeting this author a few years ago, not to mention I happen to adore her books. She's just as articulate, intelligent, warm, and witty in person. :) I really love this article. Kristan not only tells the romance bashers what to do with their prejudice (and points out the hypocrisy behind it), but I believe her wise words are applicable to genre writing, and indeed any fiction writing, in general.
This is an interesting article, in which Kristan Higgins talks a lot of common-sense. I suspect that writers of other genres would say much the same thing, were they asked to defend the style of books that they write.

I think that, sadly, the prejudice against romances is indicative of a more deep-seated awkwardness that some people have about expressing any loving sentiments. It's easier to hurl insults than to say something nice.

There's also the age-old debate about the difference between genre writing and literary writing. Defining books that fit certain genres is a lot easier than deciding on what highfalutin literature is, as that means making judgements about art. There can be a lot of crossover, for Jane Austen wrote what are acknowledged to be literary romances, like 'Pride and Prejudice.'

I like the literary style of such crime authors as Dennis Lehane, John Connolly and James Lee Burke, so wrote my first novel 'The Perfect Murderer' in a literary way, that could never be described as hardboiled. I actually found it a bit embarrassing to say this in my queries to agents, but such is the process of making submissions, as it shows you know your genre well.

Someone once said something like: 'Genre books get poor reviews, while being the most commercially successful, but literary work wins the prizes, delights the critics, yet often sells slowly.'

More worryingly, for me at least, is that I've seen the difference described as ‘Genre fiction is largely lowbrow, while literary fiction is generally highbrow.’

I'm a Whybrow - does this make me a genre-buster?
Thank you for your thoughts, Paul, although I can't help but wonder where all those "poor reviews" for genre books are, because the ones I see for my own books and for the books of fellow romance authors are anything but "poor." :)

Take Kristan, for example. She's not only a NYT and USA Today best seller, but she's won numerous RITA awards (Romance Writers of America award for best novel in various categories, voted on by RWA members). But yes, romance as a genre in general is looked down on by the highbrow literary types, as well as by some who write genre fiction other than romance. The fact that it's the number one selling genre in the US, and has been for over 50 years, seems to elude them. Or, perhaps that is the very reason they have a burr up their collective butts about the genre? ;)

Whatever the reason, Kristan makes some excellent points, the most important of which is that people seem to forget these are first and foremost LOVE stories. Even the erotic stuff I write is still a love story at its core. Take out the sex and you still have a story that works well.

I also can't help but roll my eyes at the hypocrisy of a critic who puts down the genre as a whole, but has never read a romance novel. Right. That's like me saying I hate country music and listing the reasons why I hate it, but I've never listened to even one song in the genre. My opinion would be taken seriously. Not.
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Fanfare! My adventure in self-publishing continues!