Wednesday 28 November 2012

But it's all romance

When you write romance, you get used to hearing the stereotypes - bodice ripper probably being the favourite. I have to say that no bodice has ever been ripped in one of mine. Attending the Festival of Romance, and listening to large numbers of authors reading from their books, prompted me to think about the wide variety of work that comes under the heading of 'romance'. Some of the extracts were comic, some were about families and relationships, some were gritty, some were scary, some were sexy, some were sweet, some were set in the past, some were set on a different planet ... you get the picture. I would guess that if you asked the authors what made their book a romance the words 'Happy ever after' would probably feature, but other than that, the variety of setting and circumstances was huge.

This is something that interests me about categories for awards and competitions. Most awards for romantic fiction sub divide as a minimum into historical and contemporary. But such wide groupings mean that a book set in the Medieval world can be placed alongside one set on the Titanic. Or one that is about a woman leaving a life she has outgrown, or a failed relationship, can be matched against the none too serious adventures of a group of friends who are looking for Mr Right. And all that gets even more complex if any of those involved just happens to be a vampire. Or a serial killer ... 

What am I writing?
American contests tend to have wider groups of categories. Over there what I write is called romantic suspense and usually has a category of its own. In the UK, where everything is on a more compact scale, I'd simply be in the 'Contemporary' section - as a romantic thriller - and where you might also find those paranormal stories, and maybe one or two taking place on another planet, or a parallel universe, alongside the ones set in a big city cocktail bar or a country village. A good book is a good book, but I don't envy contest judges trying to untangle all that. A bit like trying to compare apples and pears? 

Categories are exercising my mind at present as I am in the process of editing my second book, Out of Sight, Out of Mind. My first, Never Coming Home, mixed a love story with an extremely high body count. Those of a delicate disposition will be relieved to know that OSOM does not have quite so many bodies - but it does have a paranormal twist, as both the hero and heroine read minds. So now I have a paranormal romantic thriller/romantic suspense on my hands. Talk about trying to fit a square peg, with bits sticking out and one side side shaped like a triangle, into a round hole.

I can never make things easy for myself, can I? 

But it does have a happy ending. 

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