Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tell me, gentle readers...

Lord Granville Leveson Gower, a portrait after Sir Thomas Lawrence-The Regency Collection

Seeing as I'm late posting this blog, I thought I'd really be lazy and ask you all a couple of questions that have been buzzing around my brain recently. The reason I'm asking is because I made the mistake of reading my reviews for "Simply Sexual" on various sites recently and found that some readers were not happy with me at all...

Apparently, for some readers I don't stick to the rules of romance and go off and complicate things by introducing other men, m/m elements or other way too kinky unrealistic stuff into my romances. For those readers, they feel cheated when the HEA they were expecting turns into something else entirely. (I write about characters who love and accept each other despite the rigid lines of sexuality). And I can understand that-to a certain extent. Reader expectation is the basis of the success of all genre-fiction-you expect to get what you paid for, right?

I think some of that problem about expectation is because the lines between erotic romance and erotica are blurred and publishers don't always want to alienate their core audience so write back cover copy that might um, 'fudge the issues' a little maybe? On the other hand, introducing risque elements into mainline romance novels gives me a vicarious thrill. So should I be voted off the romance island or am I simply expanding its horizons?

So does anyone have an opinion on this or have you all gone on vacation already?

And just in case you haven't-check out this awesome video of Regency heroes on YouTube


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hopefully you're expanding the rules! I know I'm not the only reader who doesn't want to pick up a romance only to read the same thing time and again.

Of course, the pioneers who do this sort of boundary stretching get all the flak. Ignore it. Follow your heart and write what's in there.

Karen Erickson said...

Well you are known as Naughty Kate right? ;)

I think it is because the lines are blurred. There was definite romance in your book - it was just not your typical man-woman HEA.

You can't please everyone. I agree with Susan. Follow your heart.

Christina said...

I hope the way romances are written continue to change. You can pick a dozen romances from any store and it's always the same story and same plot. Boring!

I specifically chose books from the authors on this site because they are different and they don't always follow what many are used to.

I purchased Simply Sexual and I loved reading each chapter, but I was left feeling a little disappointed with the hero at the end. For days afterwards I was still analyzing the ending...drove me crazy. After much debate, I grew to love the story and characters and that book really stands out in my mind now.

Unfortunately, the romance genre is hard to change the rules and expectations and many readers will get turned off, but it would so boring if a few individuals didn't try.

Erastes said...

I think you're likely to get nothing but a thumbs up from us lot!

I've blogged several times about how I don't get how a bunch of women in America were given the go-ahead to create Rules of Romance which everyone needs to stick to. As Susan says, I for one don't want to read the same thing over and over again.

Some people don't like their hero (or their heroine) to be unfaithful, or be sexually ambiguous, or to be kinky or even to look at someone else. Another reader will want something else. Some will want a marriage, or a HEA or whatever.

You are never going to please everyone - but believe me, for every review that says "I didn't like this element" there will be a reader of that review who says "Hmm - that sounds intriguing" - it's the old adage, You can't please all the people - an you wouldn't want to, you shouldn't have to. Write what you want to write and sod the people who want the banal and the SAFE.

Pam Rosenthal said...

I've never been able to write erotically without making up my own rules. Good sex trumps all, and honestly-imagined, verbal, literate sex is its own reward.

While as for the video: it was fun (and what a miracle Alan Rickman is, even in the shortest clips). But it was lacking (as I'm sure you noted) in the soundtrack's necessary queerness. For my money, it's hard to top this brilliant, snarky youtube classic.

flchen1 said...

Hi, Kate, I haven't had the pleasure of reading your books yet, but I agree with Susan, Karen, and other commenters--you'll write best when you write the stories in your heart, whether or not they follow "traditional" expectations. I also think you're right though, in that there's some blurring of the lines in the markets, and whatever you can do to help make sure that your books are described appropriately can make sure that you're reaching the most appreciative audience :) Keep on writing!

Kate Pearce said...

Christine? If you come back to read this, you might want to watch out for the next book "Simply Sinful" when we get to see the relationship between Val and Peter from Peter's side and learn a whole lot more about Valentin as well-maybe that will help :)

And if it makes you feel any better-I'm still wondering about what makes Val tick and I'm looking forward to writing more about him some day.

Kate Pearce said...

Nice to hear from you all guys!!
I'll keep writing the sexually ambiguous h/h then :)

Christina said...

Kate: I'm definitely buying the rest in the series!

Jane Lockwood said...

Love the heroes video--very well edited, and now I'm longing to go home and check out the "alternative" Pam recommends.

I'm all for expanding and subverting the "rules" of romance (and we all know they're there)--that way writers and the genre won't get stale and self-satisfied. And I strongly believe as a reader that we want to be surprised and challenged. For all the detractors whose comments you read, Kate, know there are many, many readers happy with what you're doing!

RfP said...

I haven't read the book, though you've made me curious. In principle I'd say it sounds like expanding the genre--and I'm all for that.

I do have a pretty broad definition of romance, and I'm sure much of the romance market would disagree--but there are plenty of others who seem open to blurry lines and varied types of happiness. Even in discussing fairly staid Regencies, some say they're open to more rakish heroines, imperfect characters, couples who may try on a few others along the way, and maybe even equivocal endings. (Of course that particular group is self-selecting, just like here :)

Misleading cover copy is a real peeve of mine, but I prefer blurbs that describe the themes and ambiance, not the plot details. I actually like an element of surprise. Again, though, my taste may not be representative of the larger market.

Pam Rosenthal said...

I prefer blurbs that describe the themes and ambiance, not the plot details. I actually like an element of surprise.

Wow, rtf, what a great comment. And I like your blog too.