Monday, March 13, 2006

Letting go or not

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”

'til later


lost said...

Well, I think you are looking back with a pair of rose-tinted glasses. How is it today is exactly how it was back then when there were nothing but medieval, viking, pirate, American south, and American civil war romances. That's what I think, anyway. :)

Kristie (J) said...

Because there isn't the variety today that there was back then Maili. There just isn't. All the authors I mentioned aren't writing in the genre I first read them in. If I were to say they weren't writing books as good (or well, I need a language teacher next to me *grin) today as they were back then, yea, you would be right. I'd be one of those old foagys saying "well back in my day we walked 12 miles to school". But there are still mighty fine romances being written today. Many of them better than in the early 90's. Hero's have certainly improved. They aren't nearly the arseholes they used to be. And heroines are much more intelligent today. But unless you tap into the emarket sector - which I haven't really yet - how much choice is there out there as compared to years past. Take time travel for example. Other than ebooks, what was the last time travel book that came out? Westerns - yes harlequin has always published them - and thank goodess they have, and I have noticed more coming out lately, they seem to be making a bit of a comeback. And just what was the last Viking book written? (chuckling at that one since I never did get into them - nope never read a Lindsey until very recently)

Tara Marie said...

I think the whole thing is rather cyclical, sub-genres go in and out of favor and the reality probably falls somewhere between what you've blogged about and Maili's comments.

Somebody needs a breakout book in a different historical period. The Regency period has been popular for quite a while now, but I think we're starting to see some changes. I've noticed people talking more and more about westerns and colonial books.

The funny thing is nobody was happier to see viking, pirate, American south, and American civil war romances fall out of favor when they did, I for one was sick to death of them. I remember swearing off southern themes and Civil War books. Now, maybe I'd be willing to give them a try again for a change.

Bev (BB) said...

I have a theory about this and it's that it's not setting, i.e. location and time period, but plots that is truly where the variety comes from in romances. We tend to focus on setting because of its surface nature. The thing is that certain settings lend themselves to certain plots.

Step back and look at your favorite plots instead of settings and you might get a completely different picture of what's out there in any given year.

Actually, I'm not sure how this impacts on the cyclical nature of things, however. Or Kristie's complaint, either, for that matter. (G)

ag said...

You're spot on again, Kristie.

I miss a good western too.

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