Guest Post by Liz Newman, author of An Affinity for Shadows
What the world needs is more romance! The thing that bothers me about genre romance is the same thing that makes genre romance so appealing. Somehow everything in my life compares to food, but indulge me, please. You've got your standard genre romance which comes in different flavors: historical, contemporary, fantasy, apocalyptic or dystopian, steampunk, chick lit, etc., which are kind of like different flavors of popcorn. And who doesn't love popcorn, whether it's kettle corn or buttered or toffee or caramel. It's all good, and any time's a nice time for popcorn. I certainly feel more intellectually full after reading a good romance than articles about celebrities. Articles about celebs tend to give me a headache. They are these ongoing stories with no climax, no resolution, just one ongoing beginning with no end.
I've got to admit I'm one of those people who are suckered into buying the books that titan publishers push at you so hard you can't get away from them. I went to an elementary school book fair and bought a bunch of mainstream literary fiction to support the school. Problem is, with a lot of literary books which fancy themselves "high art", there are these engaging characters that I can really get into, and then something really awful happens to them, things involving female circumcision, graphic foot binding, starvation, or even worse. Then the character and reader are completely traumatized from there, but as a reader I must find out what happens at the end because I'm curious and I also plunked down twenty-five dollars or more to purchase the book. I hope there some sort of change in the end but really someone just ends up dying or having a baby without a father around, or I close the book wishing I was dead because the main character is so very unhappy. Then I have a gut bomb and wish that instead of eating that fatty laden stuff I had had some popcorn instead.
I love a great romance novel with a happily ever after ending and one of the greatest challenges being the romantic tension between the characters and where and when they are going to consummate their relationship. Romance is a bestselling genre, but I want to make my romances a little more meaty without making it scary like literary fiction. In other words, I want to eat the steak without checking out the slaughterhouse I like to think that's my job now. Meaty, filling romance that makes you feel like you've learned something after you've closed the book, besides that your husband wants you to shop more in the lingerie department and the logistics of how to make a baby.
So why does the world really need more romance? I went to a Halloween party in Vegas last fall. Somehow, ladies underwear has now become a very hip and now costume. Some people were just wearing a corset bra, panties, and some garters. Undies. Yep, underwear. That was a costume. I mean, at least spray on some body paint or something so I don't feel like an old school marm in my Mad Hattress costume with the mini skirts and fishnets. For men, it seemed the popular costumes were emasculated cartoon characters such as Sponge Bob, Mario and Luigi, Harry Potter, and whatever other pansy you can imagine.
I eavesdropped on a conversation between Mario and Luigi as they checked out a couple of undie clad gals and they sounded eerily like an episode from the 90's show.
Mario: How are we gonna get in there? I got two words for you: Im-possible.
Luigi: Nothing is impossible, Mario. Improbable, Unlikely, but never impossible. Anything is possible, Mario, you just gotta believe in it.
I imagined what my fellow party goers woke up to the next morning, as they slipped on their Luigi costume and said, "Remember, trust the fungus" as they waved their big white gloved hand goodbye. Or as they put on their underwear costume, and did that walk of shame down a hotel room hallway. Where's the romance in that?
The world needs romance not just so we can indulge our fantasies of characters named Kate, Sal, Striker, Edward, Ash, Katniss, (if these names sound familiar you're reading the right books, wink wink) but so we can put our reality of what love should consist of into check.
Life really should imitate art now, don't you think?
Liz R. Newman writes mainstream romance with a literary edge. Connect with Liz on Facebook at LizRNewmanAuthor or visit her website at www.lizrnewman.net