The Sa’wkele, The Ku-Ku, The Boqta, The Henin: How the Mongol Occupation of Europe Changed European Women’s Fashion Forever – MedievalPOC has a great post on how the iconic “princess hat” comes from the headwear of Mongolian noblewomen.
- SBHM Feature: K. M. Jackson – Author K.M. Jackson talks about the challenges of publishing African-American and multicultural romance as an African-American woman.
My first rude awaking came with obtaining an agent early in my career who took on a book of mine, which I came to learn would be categorized as an interracial romance about a paralegal who falls in love with the head partner’s son. I remember going to my first face to face meeting with my new agent, so thrilled to be stepping into this new chapter in my life, poised pen in hand ready to take notes on my work, only to have my heart plummet when he said he thought my writing was great, but he knew he’d have a hard time selling it since my characters weren’t black enough and couldn’t I make them “blacker”. *Cue record skip and rapid eye blink here*
- The Big Business of Bodice Rippers – I don’t do podcasts or radio as a rule, but when Super Wendy said she was going on the NPR show On Point to talk romance, I made it happen. Tom Ashbrook was clearly uncomfortable with the subject, was uncharacteristically giggly throughout, and was determined to keep framing the genre as “steamy”, but all three guests did an admirable job of speaking intelligently about romance. Worth a listen.
Once you could tell what people were reading by the cover of their book. Now, so much is on Kindle and its cousins that you don’t know. But we’ll tell you. By raw numbers, the odds are they’re reading romance novels. ”Scoundrel’s Captive.” ”Temptation Ridge.” ”My Fair Viking.” ”Montana Bride.” Romance novels – what we once called “bodice rippers” – are a $1.4 billion market. That’s twice the size of “inspirational”. A billion more than “literary” fiction. What’s in it? Well, a lot of sex. And emotion. And figuring out gender roles. This hour On Point: reading romance, and where the steam is now.
- Do We Really Need Negative Book Reviews? – I missed this until today, somehow. The answer to that question is yes, and I enjoyed their arguments in favor of negative reviews.
This, I would ask them to consider, is how authors feel about being reviewed. Pace Siegel, most writers do not write merely, or even principally, to escape from or console themselves. They write for other people. They write to have an effect, to elicit a reaction. That is why they scrap and struggle, often for years, to have their work published. Being sentient creatures, they are often distressed by what critics have to say about their work. Yet they accept with varying degrees of resignation that they are not kindergartners bringing home their first potato prints for the admiration of their parents, but grown-ups who have chosen to present their work in the public arena. I know of no self-respecting authors who would ask to be given points for “effort” or for the fact that they are going to die one day.
- Breaking and Bending Consent in Erotic Fiction – Heidi/Heloise Belleau posted a great piece about consent and romance and erotica. It’s relevant to our discussion back on Sunday.
Erotic fiction shouldn’t be held to higher ethical standards than mainstream fiction. But it shouldn’t necessarily be held to lower standards, either. With this in mind, one important ethical consideration in writing erotica involving consent is… does it support stereotypes that contribute to the oppression and pain of real-life people who are most vulnerable to rape? We’ve listed some misogynist stereotypes above since, as women, that’s the area in which we have the most personal experience, but there are stereotypes specific to vulnerable men, straight or not (“prisoners deserve rape”), and others specific to LGBTQ people such as “corrective rape”. And there are rape stereotypes along many other axes such as race and disability.
Some argue that erotica has no social responsibility whatsoever, and fantasy should always be free from judgement. Others, that erotica should always be written with an eye to encouraging healthy real-life sexual practices. Most withhold that “always” and fall somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. Where does dub-con fit? And non-con, and other stories that stretch the boundaries of consent? That depends largely on the writer… and the reader.
- Newbies in romland (and an expert podcast) – I enjoyed this post from Sunita about men who write about romance and how people listen to what they’re saying, even though they’re outsiders. I think it’s interesting that the media still reports on romance like it’s some arcane, fringe genre instead of the most read one.
The excitement and publicity that is generated by men writing about romance can be annoying, especially if they are (a) clearly ignorant about the genre and its readers; or (b) not saying anything different than women readers and authors have been saying for ages but getting a lot more applause for saying it. Sometimes this approbation is tinged with gratitude that a man is taking the time and making the effort to read our marginalized, often-mocked, but very lucrative genre (why a man might write in it is a little more comprehensible, given that it is a lucrative genre).
I get irritated too, but after my initial reaction I tend mostly to ignore the male gaze on the female genre; it has to be seriously wrong or insulting for me to get worked up. But I have to admit that the irritation never entirely goes away. Why do these men get so much attention?