Romantic fiction rocks, judging by the enthusiastic turn out at this year’s Romantic Novelists’ Association Awards. Roars of delight, from the home team (publishers, friends, fellow writers-in-the-genre) greeted every winner’s name. Celebration was definitely the key word of the night.
Romance even made it into The Economist last week, (11th March 2023, p23). Although I have a couple of issues with the piece, it’s mostly good news. They report that sales of romance and saga fiction in Britain have risen by 110% in three years, to £53mn annually, their highest figure for a decade, according to Nielsen BookData.
print courtesy of 2023 Award Winner Louise Allen
Publishers, they say, “are starting to take notice.”
Well, some of them were cheering their lungs out the Monday before this article was published (see above) so that’s fair enough far as it goes.
Only – call me picky if you will – but even in my experience, they’ve been doing that for a good twenty-five years before the pandemic shut down the RNA annual thrash. Started to take notice? Continue reading →
I suppose it was inevitable that February should become Romance Reading Month. There’s St Valentine doing his bit on the 14th to remind the world that romantic love is a) universal b) important and c) can be awkward. The material of good stories, in fact.
It seems to me that Valentine’s Day gets increasing attention every year. Partly this is because Bloggins’ Aniversary And Activity Day has long been the jobbing editor’s lifeline to fill an blank column or an empty four minutes on broadcast magazine programmes.
Clearly there’s even more and more slots to fill these days, what with social media ‘n’ all. And, frankly, St Valentine doesn’t face many candidates for rival celebration attention in the shortest month. Ground Hog Day anyone?
Tweets urging us to respect romantic fiction have been appearing daily in my Twitter feed this week. There is even a new Twitter hashtag: #RespectRomFic.
After the events set out in my last blog, the Romantic Novelists’ Association wrote an open letter to the Sunday Times. It pointed out the significance of romantic fiction to UK publishing. It also took them to task about the paper’s neglect and, indeed, apparent ignorance of the genre.
There has been considerable follow up. Best seller Milly Johnson had an article in The Bookseller. To their credit, The Bookseller reached out, as the phrase goes, and commissioned it.
I meant to use my next blog to cover a few hints on Finding Your Voice but the short list for the Shorter Romantic Novel Award elbowed it out of the way. (In case you didn’t know, the Romantic Novelists’ Association announced the short list for their suite of awards for romantic fiction last Monday.) For Libertà Books are sponsoring that award again this year.
As you may imagine, the whole hive are proud enthusiasts for the genre, both as writers and readers. So many, many congratulations to our short listers.
The Libertà Books Shorter Romantic Novel Award
A Will, a Wish and a Wedding, Kate Hardy, Mills & Boon True Love The Warrior Knight and the Widow, Ella Matthews, Mills & Boon Historical The Day That Changed Everything, Catherine Miller, Bookouture Second Chance for the Single Mum, Sophie Pembroke, Mills & Boon True Love The Return of the Disappearing Duke, Lara Temple, Mills & Boon Historical Cinderella and the Surgeon, Scarlet Wilson, Mills & Boon Medical Continue reading →
Reader work is a new concept for me. Reading, especially with Companion Cat purring beside me, has always been my purest pleasure.
Fact, fiction, annual financial statements, cornflake packets, I read them all. And I revelled in the otherwhere of the printed word, quite apart from whatever I learned from the text in question.
During lockdown, I have been reading even more than I usually do. Some old friends, for the dark times. Right Ho, Jeeves never lets me down. Nor does Sylvester. Or Wyrd Sisters, Fire and Hemlock, Persuasion…
But also new voices. Recommendations, serendipitous discoveries, long postponed titles from TBR pile, curiosities. All were interesting, many fitted my mood or preoccupations of the time. A few were utterly fabulous and I binge read everything else the author had written.
But what surprised me was that reading a new book tired me. Especially the ones that I really loved. Nearly as much as writing the damn stuff.
Reader Work – Co-Creation?
Think about it. Reading a new book is nearly as tiring as writing a new book? Continue reading →
This month I’ve been thinking about reading romance. Who does it? Why? When? And, well, what qualifies as romance? Troilus and Criseyde? Jane Eyre ? Anna Karenina? These Old Shades? Gaudy Night? Bridget Jones? Vikram Seth’s An Equal Music?
I’ve read them all and I’d say “yes but” to all of them. Many people, maybe most, would disagree with me on at least one.
On 3rd February the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association published its short list for this year’s awards. It’s the RNA”s 60th anniversary and this year there are nine categories.
My seven stories above would each fall into at least one of them.
Love is in the Air
And then there was St Valentine’s Day last Friday. That always brings out a flurry of saccharine fluff, embarrassing stunts and grimmish think pieces in the media.
Commercialism – shock, horror! Unrealistic emotional expectations from reading romance – fie, sir, write me a sonnet or leave at once! Head for the pub, lads, and fast. Continue reading →
The BBC’s recent 100 Books that Shaped our Worldhas started me thinking about comfort reads. What are they? When do we want them? Maybe even need them, indeed. What do they do for us? And how do we find them in the first place?
And is comfort reading a Bad Thing?
Escapism, after all, has got a bad press ever since the word was first coined, apparently in thirties USA i.e. at the height of the Depression. The Oxford English Dictionary defines escapism as “the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy.”
This month, rather to my surprise, I have found myself thinking a lot about romantic fiction and where it sits in readers’ lives. I write it, read it and love it, as regular readers of this blog will know. And there are some times in my life when nothing else will do. Not every romantic novel, of course. Maybe Persuasion. Or Sylvester. Perhaps The Morning Gift. Or…