Romance? What Romance?!

Yeats’ Tower

News this week: I did a guest spot over at Cathie Dunn’s blog Sunday, talking about the mad city, Manchester, site of my story Man City. I was also asked to contribute to a piece in the Irish version of The Sunnewspaper — er, tabloid. Not too sure if it will show up (many stories get spiked) and not sure I will be quoted accurately (people seldom are) but I figure in this market any publicity could be useful.

This will test that theory! >_<

Of course it’s on the heels of the success of 50 Shades of Grey. I’m not going to slag her off as so many do. Not only because I haven’t read it (which hasn’t stopped many from criticising it nonetheless) but also because I get so tired of the smallness of mind that causes people to make fun of other genres sight unseen. I write in a lot of fields, so I see this behaviour a lot. SF folks make fun of fantasy; horror makes fun of SF,  crime makes fun of lit — and everybody makes fun of romance. You’d think that romance would therefore be kind to others, but some romance writers just make fun of sub genres (especially inspirational and erotic).

Romance, in the Middle Ages, meant adventure. Now it’s a genre. And genre can be a box you get thrown into and ignored.

We all feel the pressure to conform to the ideals society imposes upon us: men are taught to desire power but most have far less than they are led to expect (patriarchy, meet capitalism). Crime fiction tends to sell well to male readers because it gives them a vicarious experience of that wild power. Women are taught to desire love, hence the popularity of ‘romance’ the genre. However, even if you have been lucky enough to find wonderful love, someone’s got to clean the toilets and unless you did manage to become a millionaire or fall in love with one, it’s going to be one of you.

In the blurb I wrote, I spoke a bit about the cyclical rediscovery that — gasp! — women like sex. How puritanical the modern age: in medieval times it was assumed that women were always gagging for it. Look at the Wife of Bath, married five times and “welcome the sixth when he may come along.”

It’s my last week in Ireland — sob! Saturday I am on my way to Dundee, which I won’t complain about as my sweetie awaits me. But I am so sad to leave my city by the bay. And the end of my freedom draws nearer. I don’t think I can go back to my old life…



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