- Dear columnists, romance fiction is not your bitch – Kat Mayo is sick of all the facile dismissal of romance and tells writers that their lack of due diligence is on notice.
To the surprise of no one except those who prefer not to perform a basic Google search prior to writing a rant for The Drum, feminist discussions not only occur within romance communities, but they thrive and spawn pages and pages of commentary as romance readers attempt to unpack a diverse range of ideas and problems, both within romance fiction and outside of it. Some of the most thoughtful discussions around romance books are initiated by academic scholars, whose feminist credentials I will happily pit against Susan Bennett’s any day.
I’d like to know: why is romance fiction the punching bag of the literary world? Why are romance readers the laughing-stock of feminist commentators? Why can’t people just let women read sexy things without telling us we’re doing something wrong?
- Diversity Is Not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing – Daniel José Older talks about how the homogenous world of publishing turns “non-white books don’t sell” into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The disproportionally white publishing industry matters because agents and editors stand between writers and readers. Anika Noni Rose put it perfectly in Vanity Fair this month: “There are so many writers of color out there, and often what they get when they bring their books to their editors, they say, ‘We don’t relate to the character.’ Well it’s not for you to relate to! And why can’t you expand yourself so you can relate to the humanity of a character as opposed to the color of what they are?”
So we are wary. The publishing industry looks a lot like one of these best-selling teenage dystopias: white and full of people destroying each other to survive.
- Brave New World: Adventures in Serialized Fiction – I’m on the fence about serials, myself, but others seem to like them. I’m just not good at waiting. If I start a story, I want to finish the story.
Today’s revival of serialized fiction, I learned, is coming from several quarters, and the logic behind the trend goes like this: these days we’re used to getting our long stories in installments (think Downton Abbey and other tv dramas). So why not use current technology to allow people to read a novel or novella that way? In fact, as everyone in the growing serialized-fiction business is fond of pointing out, this way of publishing fiction follows in the steps of a very old tradition: Charles Dickens and many others published their novels in serialized form–remember all those crowds waiting on the docks for the sailing ship carrying the next installment of Little Nell’s story? This is just like that. Except your iPhone is the ship.
- Do Black People Really Read This Stuff? High Fantasy, Low Fantasy & A “Racist” Publisher named Milton – A quick overview of the different sub-genres of fantasy and some thoughts about representations of black characters in them.
Recently, author Milton Davis, who is also the owner of MVmedia, which publishes his own works, as well as the works of others – including my novel, Once Upon A Time In Afrika – was accused of being a racist because in his submission guidelines for the upcoming Steamfunk anthology, he seeks stories with main characters of African descent. In Griots and Griots II: Sisters of the Spear, this was also a requirement for submission.
Other authors came forward and blasted the accuser, showing how ignorant it is to accuse someone of racism because they desire to see someone that looks like themselves – someone long erased from fantasy stories – in the stories they read and invest their money into publishing.
When I told Milton of the accusation, he simply said “Then, I must be getting it right.”
- Attacking the Stream – Sydette Harry, aka @Blackamazon on Twitter, has a fantastic piece about traditional media journalists’ characterizations of social media as toxic, chaotic and regrettable and how that reaction comes from the privilege of traditionally hearing your own voice in the media. POC discussions on Twitter don’t revolve around them and they’re pouting about it.
When people mourn an inability to have “meaningful conversations,” what they are saying is, “I have not learned to talk to you and don’t feel I should have to.” Katha Politt may see Twitter as a “poisonous well of viciousness and bad faith.” I experience Twitter as one of the few platforms where a man who abused me for years can be challenged openly, and where my experiences as a multiracial black immigrant child are valued internationally. When Nation writer Michelle Goldberg repeatedly attacks Twitter discourse as “toxic,” she misses a basic truth, captured in Brittney Cooper’s brilliant analysis: the emergence of strong and passionate voices of color is not about anything but their own development.
- The NHL’s Unsung Hero: The Anthem Singer – I loved this article about the anthem singers of the NHL, but I can’t even believe they didn’t include Rene Rancourt, who’s been singing the anthem before Bruins games for over 35 years. Rene = best. (h/t @JanetNorCal)
In other sports, the singing of the national anthem is a formality. Fans stand and remove their caps. Then they sit and the game begins.
Hockey is different. In the NHL, 26 of the 30 teams employ regular anthem singers who give emotional performances night after night. Many are celebrities with cultlike followings.
Minnesota Wild anthem singer James Bohn says his status has helped him escape speeding tickets. When 33-year veteran New York Rangers singer John Amirante takes a night off, the fans chant, “We want John!” Singing the anthem for the Detroit Red Wings since 1990 has won Karen Newman stints as a backup singer for Michiganders Kid Rock and Bob Seger.
The Washington Capitals jokingly placed singer Bob McDonald on the injured-reserve list one season when his duties as an Army sergeant drew him away. In Philadelphia, before Lauren Hart begins to sing, fans shout, “I love you, Lauren!”
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An ice hockey fan from north of Boston and the genre's most beloved troll, Ridley enjoys reading contemporary and historical romance, as well as the odd erotica novel. As someone who uses a wheelchair, she takes a particular interest in disability themes.