Judith James - Author of of Highland Rebel
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Why do we read romance? It takes up a huge chunk of the fiction market but you’ve all heard the snarky stereotypes. Desperate lonely unhappy women clutching at any romance they can find in a harmless and slightly amusing attempt to fulfill their fantasies and bring some excitement into their lives. Bodice rippers, fluff, cookie cutter fantasy…has romance become a dirty word? According to some critics of the genre and some of the stereotypes of romance and romance readers you might think so. I certainly don’t. I’ve taken the liberty of borrowing a definition from the free library and including it below. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/romance
a. A love affair.
b. Ardent emotional attachment or involvement between people; love: They kept the romance alive in their marriage for 35 years.
c. A strong, sometimes short-lived attachment, fascination, or enthusiasm for something: a childhood romance with the sea.
2. A mysterious or fascinating quality or appeal, as of something adventurous, heroic, or strangely beautiful: "These fine old guns often have a romance clinging to them" (Richard Jeffries).
a. A long medieval narrative in prose or verse that tells of the adventures and heroic exploits of chivalric heroes: an Arthurian romance.
b. A long fictitious tale of heroes and extraordinary or mysterious events, usually set in a distant time or place.
c. The class of literature constituted by such tales.
a. An artistic work, such as a novel, story, or film, that deals with sexual love, especially in an idealized form.
b. The class or style of such works.
This certainly sounds respectable enough, even exciting and uplifting, and of course it has a fine tradition going back millennia. The works of Ovid are surely romance, as was Dr Zhivago and Le morte d’arthur. I’m at a loss to understand why the romance novel has such negative connotations for some people. Is it because in modern day romance the focus is on romantic love and a happy ending? But all genres have their conventions and I would argue a happy ending too. Would readers follow a mystery that didn’t get solved? A thriller where the hero failed in his goal? Most fiction involves a quest of some form or other, and the reader generally embarks on the journey with the expectation of seeing the quest fulfilled. So the quest may be to solve a mystery. It may be to save oneself or even the planet, but isn’t love an integral, even core motivation of the human condition? Psychologists can tell you how important it is to healthy human functioning from birth to death. It’s right up there with food, water, shelter and sleep. Not all humans will solve a mystery, battle supernatural forces, build an empire, fight crime or save the world. For most, if not all of us, these stories are fuel for fantasy, but most of us will be in relationships and strive to find a partner who loves us and who we love.
Not all romances serve the same purpose. There is variety to suit every taste. Maybe you just want a snack. A light entertainment to read on the plane or at the beach. Maybe you want heartier fare, something to involve you, challenge you and make you think. Maybe you want action, mystery or adventure, a little adrenaline boost. Modern day romance has something to suit every taste, but I would argue it offers something more. Whether you write romantic mystery, paranormal, science fiction or suspense, you are making the statement that despite all that’s happening, it is human connection, caring and love that is of paramount importance.
I love writing historicals, in part because I love the history, and in part because I love contrasting the large often unstoppable events of the day with the fragile human struggles of two people in love. They may have very little control over the major events shaping history, but they can control how they deal with those events, and they can change the course of their own lives. In my new book, Highland Rebel (in stores, September 1), Catherine and Jamie are caught between opposing loyalties and have to decide for themselves what’s really important if they ever hope to be together. To me history is a fantastic backdrop for the human story, and there is no human story more powerful, universal, or timeless than the quest for love. That’s why I write romance, and that’s why I read it. Well ok…maybe for the ah…intimate parts too.
I’d like to take a moment and thank Night Owl Romance for hosting me here today, and all of you for stopping by. Please feel free to comment in any way you like, but I like to finish with a question and the one for today is this. Why do you read romance, and why do you think some people are so biased against it?
Highland Rebel by Judith James, in stores September 1, 2009!
Amidst the upheaval of Cromwell's Britain, Jamie Sinclair's wit and military prowess have served him well. Leading a troop in Scotland, he impetuously marries a captured maiden, saving her from a grim fate.
A Highlands heiress to title and fortune, Catherine Drummond is not the woman Jamie believes her to be. When her people effect her rescue, and he cannot annul the marriage, Jamie goes to recapture his hellcat of a new wife...
In a world where family and creed cannot be trusted, where faith fuels intolerance and war, Catherine and Jamie test the bounds of loyalty, friendship, and trust...
About the Author
Judith James has worked as a legal assistant, trail guide, and counselor. Living in Nova Scotia, her personal journey has taken her to the Arctic and the West Coast. Her writing combines her love of history and adventure with her keen interest in the complexities of human nature and the heart's capacity to heal. For more information about Judith, please visit http://www.judithjamesauthor.com/