On Wednesday night I gave a brief talk about romance at the JCC of San Antonio. My usual speech at a book event is not so much reading from the book but giving a top 5 or 6 list of “Things you didn’t know about romance, and romance readers.” I customize the points, depending on the audience, but usually, unless I know the audience is already well-versed in the genre, there’s so much information, I try to counter it with some factual awesomeness.
I talk about how readers, much like the romance genre, are not at all what most people think we are. We aren’t all the same, we aren’t dumb and boring, and we aren’t limited to sexual content in fluffy, unassuming packages. Romance readers, like the romance genre, are diverse and unique. We are everywhere, and we are, given the readership statistics, almost every woman.
As usual, afterward and beforehand, I was schooled yet again in how awesome romance readers are. I don’t want to reveal names or too many details, but I had to share a little about these amazing people.
One woman told me how romance and Smart Bitches made her laugh while she was going through chemotherapy and radiation. She kicked breast cancer’s ass like holy damn hell.
Another woman, after the program, told me that she’d been injured very badly during her military service and was discharged. She’s been through hellish months of rehabilitation, and romance was the only thing she wanted to read. It made her feel so much better.
I had not yet had the experience, until that moment, of wishing a happy Veteran’s Day to a servicewoman younger than I am. Thank you, ma’am, for your service.
It is an amazing thing we do, to read and to write romance. No one should give us crap about our reading material – but they will anyway, and it’ll be a while before that changes unilaterally.
But because of the women I met, I have another adjective to describe romance readers: we are brave. We may not talk about our love of our favorite books because of that ignorant behavior, but push to shove, romance readers are some brave, brave people. Way to go, y’all. I’m so proud to have met you. Thank you.