Friday, September 12, 2008
Long Live The Difference!
Today I'd like to welcome British author Lynne Connolly to Title Magic. After writing sensual paranormal and historical romances for the American market for many years, Lynne has plenty of experience on the differences between the book markets of our two countries.
Like Helen and Evonne, I live in the UK. Unlike Helen and Evonne, I’ve never finalled in American Title, so my hat is well and truly off to those of you who have.
Working in the UK and being published in the USA is a humbling and exhilarating experience. My contemporaries benefit from the none-too-gentle hands of my editors who pounce on every “Britishism” my American characters dare to utter. How on earth some American authors manage to write authentic sounding British set historicals astounds me.
I try to get across the Atlantic at least once a year, usually for Romantic Times Convention and this week has been fraught with booking flights, hotels and wincing at my bank balance, which is currently not a happy thing to see. But I’m consoled with the thought that I get to meet people who love to read, and who know how to party, as well as connecting with the industry professionals that make my career possible.
I also try to get to the Romantic Novelists Association Conference once a year, and nothing points up the differences and similarities like the way these two conferences are arranged and held. The RNA one is a much smaller affair, geared to authors and booksellers rather than readers, but if you asked me to choose between the two, I don’t think I could.
The contrasts are fascinating. In the UK, until relatively recently sagas ruled. They never caught on in the States, or were never allowed to, I don’t know which is the truth, because when I talk about them in the States, readers are fascinated by the idea of one woman’s struggles to survive in the often harsh world of the Lancashire mills, or the backstreets of London. In the US, sagas wouldn’t be considered romances, since the core of the story isn’t about a romance at all, but about the development of character and survival in a hard world.
The big news in the States, and has been for a few years now, is the paranormal romance. I write historical romance and paranormal romance, and the paranormal is just getting bigger and bigger. Where in the US my books are part of the huge flood of paranormals, in the UK, paranormal romance is a very small sector and often shelved with horror. Although there are signs that it will get bigger, given a chance.
UK bookstores don’t always have a romance section, and when they do, it’s often another word for Mills and Boon/Harlequin. Not that I don’t love a well-written category romance, but in the States, the romance market is around 50% of all paperback fiction sold every year, and even stronger in electronic sales. I write the American idea of romance – a story with a relationship at its centre, and with a happy ending. I write about lords and ladies, vampires and shape-shifters. And I write sexy.
Sexy is probably where the two sides of the Atlantic join together. In the UK, Black Lace has been an established imprint for years, and books by the likes of Jilly Cooper show a frankness that has only recently reached the American mainstream. I love it, and I love the opportunity to share every part of my characters’ lives with the readers. Defences are often down in bed, and if they aren’t, that’s a story in itself. And female readers, whether American or British understand that the sexiest organ in the body is the mind. Show real people making love, and you’ve achieved a high level of storytelling. Show a Tab A goes into Slot B scene, and meh. Most women will shrug and walk away.
Lynne Connolly writes historical romance and paranormal romantic suspense, for Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing and Loose-Id Publishing. Her website is http://www.lynneconnolly.com Her email is email@example.com