Oooh, Girl Germs!

Yesterday, as I was discussing possible avenues for promoting an upcoming book with fellow BtO member, Joni Rodgers, I kept alluding to closed doors -- mainly, the bias against "chick books" in general and mass market romantic fiction in particular that makes its authors less than popular among hosts of radio and TV morning shows. Ironically, a large percentage of TV morning shows have an overwhelming female, often romance friendly audience, but even so, those who choose guests react as if they're going to get girl cooties or have their shiny-new college degrees confiscated if they allow a romance author to grace their set.

The bias runs deep, and, oddly, women tend to be worse about it than men. Book club members would far rather pay up to to thirty dollars a copy for a hardcover or up to fifteen for a trade paperback than the seven or eight dollars a pop of a mass market paperback. And if they had to buy it in the romance section of the bookstore... well, fahgeddaboutit.

Yet over the past couple of years, since I starting writing romantic thrillers with a heavy mystery/suspense element and (even more importantly) no face-sucking clinch covers, I've been invited to a number of local book clubs -- the first romance author they either asked or read (in many cases). Many of these ladies -- whom I found absolutley delightful -- expressed astonishment that the book was so well-written and enjoyable. Still, most hastened to assure me they'd be returning to something more serious the next month.

I have no problem with that. I'm an ecletic reader, whose bookcases hold a variety of non-fiction (lots of history), memoirs (The Glass Castle by Jeanette Wells is a recent favorite), and novels ranging from action-adventure/science fiction to romance to mystery/suspense to seriously literary. Depending on my mood, I my want something fast and fun or deep and thoughtful. I think a lot of people feel the same.

There are good books and bad books (by that, I mean poorly written or just plain stupid) in every single category, but I don't believe their are "good" and "bad" genres. I think this snobbism toward books written by women (mainly) and about women for women is ridiculous, and I especially think that the blanket rejection of the feminine perspective (where else but in romance does the woman always win?) by people who probably believe themselves to be feminists is flat-out wrong. Every time I hear it, I think of second grade boys wailing and cringing about "girl germs" on the playground.

Well, my cooties can beat up your cooties. And I make no apologies for that. :)


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