I know, you’re all thinking I’m a lost cause, I have a bee in my bonnet over this, bats in my belfry, and I’m titling at windmills. But I’m on a mission. A mission that probably won’t go anywhere, but I have to do and or say something.
This goes to the heart of why I enjoy romance so much. And it’s diversity. It’s a disappearing thing in today’s market. Don’t take me wrong. In no way do I want to see the end of the English historical. I love them! I always have and I always will! But when I started reading romance years ago I branched out into other sub-genres in romance and the choices were there. There were many medievals to choose from. Westerns were plentiful. Stories set in Colonial America were there. Vampire stories were out there too. I read them before they were the flavour du jour. I read Linda Lael Millers trilogy and Maggie Shayne wrote a wonderful series of them for Harelquin. Time travel and futuristics were plentiful. . What I loved was the opportunity to choose from whatever struck me at the moment. If I felt like visiting the old west – well I could. I could see what other worlds in other galaxies were like. I could get a glimpse of like in the 12-century without suffering those nasty smells or having to use a gardenrobe (or whatever it was called back then)
But choices to day have dwindled so much and I’m fed up about it!
I want to be able to read a book by Lorraine Heath in what I consider her real genre – the western (yes I know she has one out now in an anthology, but is it a historical western? And it is only a short story) and as far as I know, she has no plans to return to the old west. No instead she is remaining in England, writing lesser quality books because that’s where the publishers are deciding she should be. Leslie Lafoy wrote an exceptional western – Maddies Justice and a couple that were set in colonial America. She also wrote some damn good time travel books. But where is she set now? Laura Lee Gurhke wrote the wonderfully poignant Conor’s Way set right after the Civil War dealing with reformation. She also wrote a wonderful book set in Boston – with a divorcee. No virgin widow book that one was! And where is she writing now? Patricia Potter wrote great Westerns. Linda Francis Lee wrote a great series set in early New England. Today she writes contemporaries. Stef Ann Holm wrote some charming books set in early America. Today she seems headed in the direction of women’s fiction. Jill Marie Landis wrote some fabulous books set in the early west. And don’t get me started on Susan Kay Law and what has happened to her. If I hadn’t been reading romance for so long, I wouldn’t be as upset as I am today. But I read those wonderful books back then and I hate that they just aren’t being written anymore. If an author chooses of her own volition to move the setting to England, away from where she started, that’s one thing. I may not like it but I will accept it.
Many of today’s romance readers haven’t been reading all that long. I have been since the early 90’s. And I say it’s a completely different market.
I want to see mid list authors like Pamela Clare, Wendy Lindstrom, Bonnie Vanak promoted and for readers to take a risk and try these books. They all write books reminiscent of the books I read and loved to death when I first started reading romance. I want authors who have that muse in their heads that are telling them to set their stories someplace other than Merry Old England to be free to write them. And until Lorraine Heath herself sends me a private e-mail saying “I’m happy writing where I do. I WANT to write the setting and characters I am right now. Leave me the heck alone you dingbat,” I am convinced she is not being allowed to be true to her writing self.
And the mid-list authors who are being true to their writing selves wait on pins and needles with fingers crossed that this next book does well so that they may be allowed to continue where their muse calls them.
So while this rant/vent probably won’t accomplish much – at least I got it off my chest. For the moment. I’m sure I’ll manage to get myself worked up again and blog about it at some later date. And everyone will read it and sadly shake their heads and think, “uh oh, she’s off again poor dear. Our own little Don Quixote”