Jenny D. wrote me this email a few months ago, and I asked if I could share her story with you because it made me laugh so hard. Sometimes the way in which people who aren't familiar with the romance genre approach it can be unintentionally hilarious.
I had a hilarious/infuriating romance novel-related interaction today, and needed to share it with someone who would appreciate it. =)
So my eight-and-a-half months pregnant self is waddling through the bookshelves at Goodwill and when I'm browsing the romance section, an older gentleman (mid-sixties, maybe?) stops me. The conversation goes something like this:
“Do you read a lot of romance?”
“Could you recommend some of your favorite authors?”
(Note: At this point, my inner librarian-self is doing an enthusiastic happy dance at the thought of doing a Reader's Advisory interview in Goodwill. It should be noted that my inner librarian-self is not eight-and-a-half months pregnant and so can actually still do a happy dance.)
“Are you interested in reading contemporary romance or historical?”
“Oh, I don't really want to *read* romance. I just want to write one.”
(Note: At this point, I'm working really hard not to raise the Right Eyebrow of Doom. I manage to keep a straight face and say something vaguely encouraging like “Oh” to get more information.)
“Yeah, this Danielle Steel person is REALLY popular and has written lots of books. It can't be very hard. I'm going to figure out the formula and write some myself. If she can do it, so can I.”
(Note: At this point I'm trying to keep the Glare of Death that has been passed down from woman to woman in my family off my face and am struggling to find a reply of any kind, so I go back to the original question.)
“Well… one contemporary author I enjoy is Jennifer Crusie. She started out writing straight romance and then moved more toward romantic suspense, so she's a good example of some variation within the romance genre. And then of course there's Nora Roberts. She's been very popular for a long time and has written in multiple sub-genres.”
“I don't want to read more than two romance novels.” (Here he waves the Danielle Steel book at me.) “And there's only three Danielle Steel books here, and TWO SHELVES of Nora Roberts. Clearly, people don't like or her want to keep her books, so I don't want to read her. But I'll look for this Crusie person. Thanks.”
And then I walked away fast before I could let him know what I thought his chances of writing a bestselling romance novel without actually reading romance or wanting anything to do with much of the genre… So yes, at once hilarious and infuriating. I'm still shaking my head…
Have you ever had a funny encounter with a reader who thought they knew all about romance? Share share!