Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What If There Are No Heaving Bosoms (or Six-Pack Abs)?

Love at Absolute ZeroAt Digital Book Today we often repost articles from other blog posts that we think will be interesting to our readers. They come from various sources including authors. Below is an article from author Christopher Meeks (Love at Absolute Zero) on his “discovery” that he writes Romance.

I never intended to write a romance. I wanted to do what popular writer Amanda Hocking once said in her blog, to write “a book that many people enjoyed.” She explained that for her book, Switched, “I wrote a story I loved, readers fell in love with the same characters I did, and I love my readers. That’s all there is to it.”

Until now, I hadn’t analyzed my fiction as simply as that. I happen to teach college English, too, and even there, I never think about genre, just what is involving. The contemporary novels that I make my students read, such as Sara Gruen’s Water For Elephants, Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad, Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (in my child lit class), don’t seem “genre” to me–just great stories that are not cliché.
However, my notion of romance was: cliché. After all, romance novel covers seem full of swooning bare-shouldered women and bare-chested men. Yet I didn’t give genre readers enough credit. They don’t like reading hackneyed material any more than I do.

The fact that I’m a romantic, well, I love that. That didn’t make me a Romance Writer. Or did it? I only woke up to this recently, when my book Love At Absolute Zero was reviewed on Romance sites.
The one that shook me the most was the first, from reviewer Virginia Campbell. She’d sent me an email to her “spotlight” on my book at this link. When I clicked on the link, I saw prominently featured a stunning bare-shouldered woman and a couple of bare- chested men. Romance. “What!” was my first reaction, but then I read her review, which is also on Goodreads and Amazon. She said she knew she’d love the book from its premise, adding, “What I didn’t know was that the author would blow me away with his skill as a storyteller.”

Well, hey! And then I read Linda Hitchcock’s review at BookTrib, which starts, “Three cheers for Christopher Meeks and his wildly entertaining picaresque novel about the gentle, bumbling hero Physicist Gunnar Gunderson’s quest for love and marriage. Meeks’ work is fresh, up-to-date, and frequently laugh out loud funny as my husband would attest in a grumble after being jostled anew.”
Maybe I’ve found my audience. I’ve received scores of reviews at this point, counting the ones in print, on Amazon, GoodReads, and LibraryThing. Most are by women and most are four- and five-star reviews. I realized my book is a contemporary romance, akin to what Nick Hornby does in High Fidelity. And that’s a good thing. So are my readers. I write for you.

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