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Hi friends ~ It’s Blogger Day at Read-A-Romance Month!
I’ve invited some friends of Read-A-Romance Month to do their own posts on why we should Celebrate Romance. Hope you love the posts on Day 19 of the calendar and here, where you can find more friendly bloggers I’ve met through the RARM Facebook page sharing their thoughts.
Happy Blogger Day – Celebrate Romance!
Romance – Awesome & Subversive
I’m a librarian and I love to read romance novels. Typically, when someone I’m meeting for the first time learns these two salient points about me one of two things occurs. They either 1) crack a joke about bodice rippers or 2) they value their life and instead ask what the appeal of the genre is for me.
I like romance novels for several reasons, and usually preface my comments by stating that every reader of the genre comes at it from different angles. However, for me, it’s all about being subversive.
I am a classic middle child, sandwiched in between two intelligent, vocal and beautiful sisters. I’m the peacemaker. The introvert. The shy one whose kindergarten teacher once wrote on her report card that “Wendy still has a tendency to go off into her own world.” I do feel that over the years, as I’ve aged and stopped caring somewhat about what people think about me, that I’ve become more extroverted. That being said, I’m the kind of person to pick apart a problem from a multitude of starting points before opening my mouth and offering up my solution.
Romance novels as feminist literature is a long standing argument. On the flip side of the coin you have romance novels derided in some feminist circles as reinforcing negative female stereotypes. I land more on the side of the former, but instead of offering a dissertation on why (there are others more qualified than I who do so) I give them this answer: Because romance novels are subversive, which automatically makes them pretty darn awesome.
We live in a world, even in the 21st century, where women are not always valued. Our opinions, our desires and dreams – they are deemed uneducated, unimportant or just plain wrong. We shouldn’t have ambitions. We shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads over anything that doesn’t involve looking pretty and keeping our mouths shut. Respect and equality, why should we ever waste our time on such things? And sex? Good heavens, we shouldn’t like it, want it, or even think about it. Whatever choices we make, someone, somewhere is going to tell us we are wrong. It’s inevitable.
Romance novels never tell us we’re wrong. Romance novels tell us it’s OK to feel what we feel and to think what we think. And most importantly? Romance novels tell us we’re OK. Great romance novels hold our hand and tell us we’re not alone. There are people out there who know what you’re going through, who support you, who understand. You have value.
Looking at the sub genres I enjoy reading, when done well, romance novels put the heroine at center stage. The woman. The same woman who society is saying is unimportant, wrong, and not valued. That woman, that heroine, is the star of the show. She is a person. You are a person. She has a voice. You have a voice. She is a woman. You are a woman. What could possibly be more awesomely subversive than that?
I love to read category romances, so I thought it would be fun to list three of my favorite authors working in the shorter format:
Jessica Hart who writes wonderful, heroine-driven stories for Harlequin Romance and Harlequin Kiss.
Helen Kay Dimon who writes page-turning, un-put-down-able suspense stories for Harlequin Intrigue.
And finally, Donna Alward, who recently has taken her small town sexy cowboys to Harlequin American.
Questions For Wendy
1 – Describe the most daring, adventurous or inspiring thing you ever did.
At the tender age of 17 I left home to attend college 400 miles away, out of state. Probably not a big deal for most people, but I was (and still am in some respects) the classic middle child. I think I shocked the heck out of everyone in the family by leaving home before the age of 30!
2 – Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)
The romance genre really got me active online, and shortly after discovering the genre at the tender age of 23, I started writing reviews for a now defunct web site. When blogging became “a thing” – I saw a way to add my voice to the community by talking about more than just “the books.” I also saw it as a way to connect with other readers out there. Having no one in my real life to talk romance novels with (a travesty for a librarian!), blogging became a way to find “my people.”
3 – Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)
Watermelon by Marian Keyes. It immediately got me hooked on romance novels. The irony being that it’s technically not a romance, fitting more closely within the chick lit mold. But what that book showed me was how the genre had changed from the few lusty bodice rippers I read as a teen. It showed me that the genre wasn’t one size fits all. It showed me that the genre is constantly evolving.
Wendy The Super Librarian is generously offering a mystery box of goodies from the Romance Writers of America Conference 2014 in San Antonio, Texas! What’s in the box? It’s a surprise! (U.S. readers only, apologies to international friends.) Entry form below.
Wendy’s first professional library job involved purchasing adult fiction for a rural Michigan library system. After earning a B.A. in history and a master’s degree in library science, she fell into that job by accident and wasn’t entirely prepared. The biggest hole in her popular fiction knowledge was romance, so she started reading and quickly got hooked. She now heads up the collection development department for a very large library system on the west coast. In 2011, the Romance Writers of America honored her with their annual Librarian of the Year Award. Wendy’s writing can be found on several online venues including The Misadventures of Super Librarian and Heroes & Heartbreakers.