As is the standard in tv, where there’s piles and piles of tape but the audience sees about seven or eight inches of it, our segment was probably pretty quick. But we were talking then and are here now to say that the stereotype of romance readers is wrong. Romance readers are smart, erudite, clever, and tired of being dismissed as undersexed, overweight frustrated women. I hope that our enthusiasm and love of romance came across. If you like romance novels as much as we do, we’re glad you’re here.
ETA: There is a link to the video online if you’d like to see it for yourself. My comments after I watched it for the first time are below – click the “more more more” for, well, more more more.
I just saw the Today Show segment in pacific time – I’m not sure why so much airtime was devoted to Sex & The City, though it probably is the most current and stylish representation of the romantic happy ending that’s familiar to folks outside the romance genre group. But Nora kicked ass, and if you saw those two ladies looking up at Patrick Dempsey and George Clooney, that was indeed Lisa Kleypas and Barbara Caridad Ferrer.
It just occurred to me that people who attend this conference might be more likely to have bubble-thought dreams of meeting Kleypas and Ferrer than Clooney or Dempsey. But anyway.
I was on and while I couldn’t hear what I said (I was in the lobby bar having begged a hotel employee to turn up one of the bar televisions) I think it was the part wherein I compared romance novels to really good sex. So let me tell you some of what everyone else said because they were much more awesome than I could possibly describe.
Jane started out by identifying herself and her profession (attorney, general mastermind of organization) and said that she reads romance because of the assurance of a happy ending, and that they all end in happiness and redemption. She was also the origin of the idea that the stereotypical romance reader is a myth – and that we are the typical romance reader.
Kassia Krozser was kickass. She talked about her favorite books, and about the powerful experiences found in romance novels. Marcella White Campbell’s interview was so good that I nearly had to sit down on the floor to keep myself from jumping up and down and doing a happy dance. She said that there’s something in romance for everyone, and between the beginning and the happy ending, there can be comedy, drama, fear, hope, triumph and that’s why she continually goes back to her favorite books: they stand up to rereadings and they never get old.
When I was about to go over for my turn, someone over my shoulder (I don’t remember who, I’m sorry) said something along the lines of, “When is someone going to say something about the sex?” So I said, “I will.”
So when I was asked, like the others, “Why do you read romance novels,” the answer I gave was that there’s no shortage of unhappiness in the news right now, that it’s so easy to become overwhelmed with bad news, and romance novels guarantee a happy ending, that every thing will work out ok. When asked to elaborate as to why I like the happy ending, why I like romance novels so much, I said, “Well, romance novels are like really good sex.”
And there you have the soundbite.
I’m bummed out that Jane, Kassia, and Marcella’s comments weren’t included because they were so very excellent. But the RWA Conference on the whole looked incredible – and the shots of the literacy signing, which raised nearly $60k, were impressive. Romance fans, I think, came across as excited, stylish women who are devoted to reading and to romance. It’s a slight change on the fumpy unsatisfied housewife theme, and I like the subtext of the updated reference to romance readers, brought about by the billions of dollars sold and the millions of books sold as well. I hope the update continues so that romance readers are more accurately represented for who we are, and how diverse and amazing our readership is. Happiness is never chic, but I think the perception of romance readers has once again improved.