Monday, November 07, 2011

"Old School" Romance and "Today's" Romance -- Susanna Carr

I'm noticing a trend on author blogs and social media that annoys me. Lately authors have been quick to point out that their books are not "your mother's/grandmother's romance," "old-school" or "80's bodice-rippers." (Don't even get me started on the bodice-ripper term.) Maybe this is annoying me more lately because I have a birthday coming up and I realized I'm the generation they're talking about, but I have to wonder if these authors have read a romance from the 1980s. How many romance books have they read that were written twenty or thirty years ago?

I read my first Harlequin romance in 1980 and was immediately hooked. These stories were tightly focused on a romantic relationship between two people I could care about. I still have quite a few of those books on my shelves and revisit the stories once in a while. There are none of the controversial elements in these stories that many claim were in all of the "old school" books.

I agree that there were some romance novels in the past that had objectionable content. And I would point out that there are some romance novels now that have objectionable content. But I would never claim that all the books being published today have the same content.

Now I see that a few publishers are launching digital only romance lines and bringing back some romance books that have been out of print. Books from the 70s, 80s and 90s. Many of the books that will be re-released are from bestselling superstars, but quite a few of them are from little-known authors. The publishers know that these books will find an audience despite the fact they were written decades ago.

And isn't that what authors want? To write a book that will sell for years and years? And don't readers want to find a book they love so much they share it with their mothers, aunts and grandmothers? How many readers can't wait to share the books on their keeper shelf with their daughters and granddaughters? I'm sure there are many.

So enough of drawing the line between "old school" romances and "today's" romances. Let's focus on telling a story that will be enjoyed for generations.


Liz Flaherty said...

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Kaelee said...

Amen! Great stuff.

If the 80's are old school then I must read in the grave romances. I started reading romance about 1959 and I still have some favorite books from that era. Georgette Heyer who died in 1974 wrote timeless regency romances.

I love to read old contemporary romances as well as they allow me to see how social habits have changed over the years. We don't have smoking heroes or heroines anymore for example. Older medical romances have some things in them like bed rest and traction for broken bones that aren't common today. Today's heroines are higher up in the work force usually. I read what appeals to me.

The Brunette Librarian said...

UGH! I HATE the term "bodice ripper" I work in a library and whenever someone says it, I cringe inside. The worst offender is our children's librarian...which just annoys me to no end. She tells all the time that you can't judge a book by its cover - very true. And then she downs romance novels by saying "bodice ripper"

Excellent post!

Christine Young said...

Well, I fall into that group too. I fell in love with my first romances in the 1980's and sold my first in 1998. That was a very good year for me. I happily agree with what you are saying and wonder also, if those people have read a romance novel from the 80's or 90's.

Martha Lawson said...

I too started reading romances in the late 70's and I detest the term "bodice ripper". I hate people that judge books!

marybelle said...

A great story is a great story, no matter when or how it is written or published.