There’s been a bit of a Interweb kerfuffle regarding Anne Stuart’s recent comments about her publishers in an interview on All About Romance. Miss Snark picked up on and gave ole Anne what-for for her lack of discretion and for being an ungrateful tart; Dear Author then picked it up and expanded the topic by lobbing around some more links and opinions.
Franky, much as I enjoy Miss Snark’s writing and respect the hell out of her, because bitch has claws and she’s not afraid to use ‘em, I disagree with her. Anne Stuart’s awesomeness as a person has ratcheted up several notches in my estimation. Why? Because she said something something a lot of people have thought for a long time but were too chickenshit to say out loud.
Harlequin, the same publisher largely responsible for trends like amnesiac virgin brides, secret babies and boardroom mistresses, is accused of caring more about slots and numbers than the quality of the end product. Quel choc! That Anne Stuart, man, she is one wacky-ass bitch who has no idea what she’s talking about. Or if she does know what she was talking about, she shouldn’t say anything, because speaking up would be bad business, and God knows that’s paramount.
Look, if people didn’t speak up when the system is broken, how the hell is change supposed to happen? And speaking as a reader, I do think things aren’t going as well as they could be. An author has finally spoken and and is saying that publishers have fucked up, and are continuing to be, shall we say, less than satisfactory in their treatment of authors—and she’s not doing this in a bugfuck-crazy, going-down-in-flames, trainwrecky way like, ohhh, say, Dara Joy, but in a reasonable and honest (if snarky) tone. I say she deserves props, and I’m damn glad that she seems even more awesome as a person than she is an author.
Anne, you probably have loads of things better to do with your time than to fill up your particular Internet tube (that is not at all like a dump truck) with Smart Bitches, but on the off-chance you are reading this, I say to you: Good job, and I pretty much agreed with everything you said about your publishers, including your wistfulness about not staying with Avon, because goddamn you produced some fine, fine reading material while you were with them.
Here’s a tangent for you: Avon in the late 80s to mid-90s was unstoppable. During that time, they published the best work of many of my favorite authors, including Laura Kinsale, Loretta Chase, Lisa Kleypas, Anne Stuart, Karen Ranney and Jo Beverley. In fact, I noticed a precipitous drop in quality when Stuart and Beverley1 moved from Avon to Zebra and an equally steep rise in quality when Ranney switched from Zebra to Avon. Coincidence? I really, really don’t think so. Similarly, Loretta Chase, while I’m happy enough to dance on tabletops that she’s writing again, hasn’t quite written anything for Berkley that can compare with the brilliance that was her output for Avon—well, with the sole exception of The Last Hellion, but the less said about that book, the better.
The big exception would be Kinsale, who has remained consistently excellent, but then she’s LAURA FREAKING KINSALE.
However much the editors for the Avon Romantic Treasures and Avon lead titles between 1988 and 1997 were being paid, it probably wasn’t enough.
1OK, so Beverley was writing for Kensington/Zebra already with her incredibly convoluted Company of Rogues series, but she started the Malloren series with Avon (My Lady Notorious, by far the best book by her that I’ve read), then moved on to Zebra (Tempting Fortune, which was mediocre at best), and then finished the series with Signet (which books were fun installments to the saga, but not nearly as good as My Lady Notorious). Those of you who disagree with my assessments, please know that I have impeccable taste. It’s so impeccable, it’s Platonic. Just so you know.