Friday, April 4, 2008
Dark and Dangerous? Guest Blogger Nina Bruhns Asks...
When I posted a request for guest bloggers on my local chapter’s Chat loop, Nina Bruhns immediately volunteered. That’s who she is. She has served as Programs Chair, organizes our annual retreat (and has added a Master Class and Hermit Weeks at the Beach—check them out at LowCountryRWA.com), and has served as Co-President these last two years. Our chapter is small and Nina keeps us going by so graciously giving!
Her writing accomplishments are amazing. They include wins in such prestigious contests as the National Readers’ Choice Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award (twice), the Dorothy Parker Award (five times), the Golden Chalice Award, the Beacon Award, the Colorado Award of Excellence, the Lories, the Write Touch Readers Award, and the Aspen Gold, to name a few. Her books have also made it onto the WaldenBooks Bestseller List, as well as been named favorite book of the year by several review website. Recently, Night Mischief was nominated for a RITA Award, and we all have our fingers and toes crossed for her!
Please join me in welcoming Nina Bruhns as our guest blogger this 4th of April!
Nina: Last week, an article in our local paper, the Post and Courier, really got me thinking. Written by columnist Rebekah Bradford, who is wonderful and a great friend to romance novels, part of the new and very welcome thaw in Charleston’s über-conservative attitude (read: prejudice) against “those books”, the article was nevertheless somewhat critical of the (alleged) changes which romance novels have undergone since 9/11.
Here’s a link to the article: http://www.charleston.net/news/2008/mar/30/romance_novels_changed_after_sept35351/
The gist of what Bradford said was that she feels the complex, dark and intense romances of the nineties have given way post-9/11 to a genre that is “breezy, full of humor and feel-good emotion.” Okaaay... Well, that brings up several things in my mind. The first being, so, what’s wrong with humor and feel-good emotion!?
But I get what she means. I honestly do. Even if I don’t strictly agree with her assertion that all romance novels are like that now. Because I’ve read a ton of wonderfully dark, complex and unpredictable stories just this past year. My own NIGHT MISCHIEF, which was an October 07 release from Silhouette Nocturne, is an extremely dark and intense read. It is currently up for a RITA Award, which is the romantic equivalent of an Oscar (yay! ☺). So, I would definitely disagree that you can’t find seriously intricate and emotional romances out there today.
Personally, I love writing textured and angsty stories, full of twists and wrenching conflict. But guess what? And here’s the bottom line. They don’t sell nearly as well as the light, humorous, pure entertainment books do. In fact, I used to alternate writing lighter stories with darker, but the difference in sales among my own books is so striking that a couple of years ago I made a conscious decision to stop writing the serious stories I love so well in favor of more light, breezy ones. Luckily, I enjoy writing those also. ☺ In March I had a hero from outer space (I like to characterize THE REBEL PRINCE as “Mork and Mindy meets The DaVinci Code and Sex and the City” – how serious can that be?) and coming in June KILLER TEMPTATION is a sexy romp on the beach in Fiji (okay, there’s a serial killer there, but trust me it’s not the least bit scary). I was lucky enough recently to sell to Berkley (Penguin/Putnam) and those bigger books will be fairly dark and quite complex romantic thrillers. I’m already starting to worry about sales and I haven’t even finished writing the first one... Yikes.
So, I guess I would argue that if indeed there is a predominance of lighter romance fare out there today, the trend is being driven by the number of readers who prefer that type of story and show it with their purchases. As an author, I wish it were otherwise. But there you go. You have to give the audience what they want. Hopefully in another five years it will swing back the other way.
Meanwhile, what do you think? Do you see a trend to lighter reads in romance? Do you prefer them to the darker stories? Or...?
I’d love to hear your comments!
2008 RITA nominee Nina Bruhns