Romance and Feminism?

Romance and Feminism?

>> Merry comments: 

In particular, the men often grow in ways that involve respecting and valuing women more than they do at the beginning of the book. In times when the hard won respect that women have achieved for ourselves is under threat, the popularity of romances in this country is one of the things that makes me hopeful that feminism is alive somehow…….Works of fiction have made a difference. What do you think? <<

This is an excerpt from a longer comment by Merry that I found interesting enough to share.  Personally, I think that while the term "feminist" may have gone out of fashion, heroines in romances are reflecting a steadily growing recognition of female power.  Years ago, at a national RWA conference, Susan Elizabeth Phillips  gave a groundbreaking keynote address in which she said romance is popular because it is empowering: the woman’s needs are respected, she gets what she wants, and by the end of the book, the hero accepts her as his equal.

That ideal has since become axiomatic in romance.  (Generalization alert!) In the 30 years or so of the modern romance genre, the heroine has gone from a passive object of desire to a strong, forceful woman in charge of her own life.  Even in historicals, heroines these days often have an independence more common in the 21st century than the 19th.  The genre is reflecting the world around us. 

<<I also was wondering if there is any scholarship about romance novels and reasons for their popularity that you know of. What about literary criticism? <<

Check out DANGEROUS MEN, ADVENTUROUS WOMEN, the classic essay book edited by Jayne Ann Krentz and published by the

University

of

Pennsylvania Press

.  Also A NATURAL HISTORY OF THE ROMANCE NOVEL by Dr. Pamela Regis, an English professor at

McDaniel

College

.  There are others, but these books are a good place to start. 

What do others out there think?

Mary Jo

69 thoughts on “Romance and Feminism?”

  1. Dear Wondrous Wenches:
    Although I did not hear SEP’s keynote address firsthand, I’d agree the summary is accurate, IMO. I’d take it one small step further, and perhaps SEP had, and say that: the INDIVIDUAL woman’s needs are respected… For we all want something different from our relationships.
    Even those books featuring super-alpha males boil down to this natural conclusion.

    Reply
  2. Dear Wondrous Wenches:
    Although I did not hear SEP’s keynote address firsthand, I’d agree the summary is accurate, IMO. I’d take it one small step further, and perhaps SEP had, and say that: the INDIVIDUAL woman’s needs are respected… For we all want something different from our relationships.
    Even those books featuring super-alpha males boil down to this natural conclusion.

    Reply
  3. Dear Wondrous Wenches:
    Although I did not hear SEP’s keynote address firsthand, I’d agree the summary is accurate, IMO. I’d take it one small step further, and perhaps SEP had, and say that: the INDIVIDUAL woman’s needs are respected… For we all want something different from our relationships.
    Even those books featuring super-alpha males boil down to this natural conclusion.

    Reply
  4. I have Jayne Ann Krentz’s book, very interesting and recommended!
    I started reading romances just over 30 years ago, and I agree with your assessment of the change. In some ways, I like it a lot. In other ways, not so much. I love Alpha males, in both books and real life, and like best the books that manage to match an Alpha male with an Alpha female – both strong characters who both learn to accommodate the other to make the relationship work. In some romances – contemporaries are the worst for it but some historicals do it too – the woman emasculates the man on the road to reeling him in. Ew. I want both characters to choose to be vulnerable to the other, not one wholly dominating the other. I don’t like that in real life or books.
    Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer wrote strong women characters who matched the male characters. I think that’s one reason their books are still much loved.
    On a completely different topic, I can tell that I’m going to want to come back and read older posts periodically, but I see no archives link. This is just me, but I would love to see archives linked by date, by author and by topic (writing, history, life, etc). It should be a fairly simple fix on your template. You can choose categories when you write your post. It would be a gift to your readers!
    Thank you for your time and insight :).

    Reply
  5. I have Jayne Ann Krentz’s book, very interesting and recommended!
    I started reading romances just over 30 years ago, and I agree with your assessment of the change. In some ways, I like it a lot. In other ways, not so much. I love Alpha males, in both books and real life, and like best the books that manage to match an Alpha male with an Alpha female – both strong characters who both learn to accommodate the other to make the relationship work. In some romances – contemporaries are the worst for it but some historicals do it too – the woman emasculates the man on the road to reeling him in. Ew. I want both characters to choose to be vulnerable to the other, not one wholly dominating the other. I don’t like that in real life or books.
    Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer wrote strong women characters who matched the male characters. I think that’s one reason their books are still much loved.
    On a completely different topic, I can tell that I’m going to want to come back and read older posts periodically, but I see no archives link. This is just me, but I would love to see archives linked by date, by author and by topic (writing, history, life, etc). It should be a fairly simple fix on your template. You can choose categories when you write your post. It would be a gift to your readers!
    Thank you for your time and insight :).

    Reply
  6. I have Jayne Ann Krentz’s book, very interesting and recommended!
    I started reading romances just over 30 years ago, and I agree with your assessment of the change. In some ways, I like it a lot. In other ways, not so much. I love Alpha males, in both books and real life, and like best the books that manage to match an Alpha male with an Alpha female – both strong characters who both learn to accommodate the other to make the relationship work. In some romances – contemporaries are the worst for it but some historicals do it too – the woman emasculates the man on the road to reeling him in. Ew. I want both characters to choose to be vulnerable to the other, not one wholly dominating the other. I don’t like that in real life or books.
    Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer wrote strong women characters who matched the male characters. I think that’s one reason their books are still much loved.
    On a completely different topic, I can tell that I’m going to want to come back and read older posts periodically, but I see no archives link. This is just me, but I would love to see archives linked by date, by author and by topic (writing, history, life, etc). It should be a fairly simple fix on your template. You can choose categories when you write your post. It would be a gift to your readers!
    Thank you for your time and insight :).

    Reply
  7. Cathy, it’s been a long time since I heard SEP’s first keynote (she’s been a convention speaker again since then), but I’m sure she covered the indivuality bases.
    Susanna, we’re working on getting the archives link up. This is only our third day, and it’s the first day there have been more than ten posts up so one fell off. We should have that working soon. (Our Blogatrix is working on it now.)
    I’d agree that having the characters well matched is vital to a memorable romance. There were a couple of Georgette Heyers where I thought she was less than successful, but her best books match the characters beautifully.
    Ditto Jane Austen. The most recent movie of P&P had Kiara Knightley playing Elizabethe Bennett, and she was so radiant that you could see why a man of greater fortune wanted her despite the inequality of their situations.
    MJP

    Reply
  8. Cathy, it’s been a long time since I heard SEP’s first keynote (she’s been a convention speaker again since then), but I’m sure she covered the indivuality bases.
    Susanna, we’re working on getting the archives link up. This is only our third day, and it’s the first day there have been more than ten posts up so one fell off. We should have that working soon. (Our Blogatrix is working on it now.)
    I’d agree that having the characters well matched is vital to a memorable romance. There were a couple of Georgette Heyers where I thought she was less than successful, but her best books match the characters beautifully.
    Ditto Jane Austen. The most recent movie of P&P had Kiara Knightley playing Elizabethe Bennett, and she was so radiant that you could see why a man of greater fortune wanted her despite the inequality of their situations.
    MJP

    Reply
  9. Cathy, it’s been a long time since I heard SEP’s first keynote (she’s been a convention speaker again since then), but I’m sure she covered the indivuality bases.
    Susanna, we’re working on getting the archives link up. This is only our third day, and it’s the first day there have been more than ten posts up so one fell off. We should have that working soon. (Our Blogatrix is working on it now.)
    I’d agree that having the characters well matched is vital to a memorable romance. There were a couple of Georgette Heyers where I thought she was less than successful, but her best books match the characters beautifully.
    Ditto Jane Austen. The most recent movie of P&P had Kiara Knightley playing Elizabethe Bennett, and she was so radiant that you could see why a man of greater fortune wanted her despite the inequality of their situations.
    MJP

    Reply
  10. I love romances where you don’t feel like either the hero or heroine, but particularly the heroine, had to lose for it all to work out. Like you said, they end as equals.
    I missed the romances of the 70’s and most of the 80’s since I really wasn’t old enough to read romance until the late 80’s. Did it feel like the heroines *lost* something for the relationship to work out? I have to admit that most of the old romance reprints -particularly ones from the 70’s – I’ve read haven’t worked so well for me. I don’t understand why people rave about them.
    I will say my path to romance was from all the classic girl books (Lousia May Alcott, Ann of Green Gables, Little House, etc.) to Jane Austen and Jane Eyre to historical romances, and part of the appeal was that they were so heroine centered.
    -Michelle

    Reply
  11. I love romances where you don’t feel like either the hero or heroine, but particularly the heroine, had to lose for it all to work out. Like you said, they end as equals.
    I missed the romances of the 70’s and most of the 80’s since I really wasn’t old enough to read romance until the late 80’s. Did it feel like the heroines *lost* something for the relationship to work out? I have to admit that most of the old romance reprints -particularly ones from the 70’s – I’ve read haven’t worked so well for me. I don’t understand why people rave about them.
    I will say my path to romance was from all the classic girl books (Lousia May Alcott, Ann of Green Gables, Little House, etc.) to Jane Austen and Jane Eyre to historical romances, and part of the appeal was that they were so heroine centered.
    -Michelle

    Reply
  12. I love romances where you don’t feel like either the hero or heroine, but particularly the heroine, had to lose for it all to work out. Like you said, they end as equals.
    I missed the romances of the 70’s and most of the 80’s since I really wasn’t old enough to read romance until the late 80’s. Did it feel like the heroines *lost* something for the relationship to work out? I have to admit that most of the old romance reprints -particularly ones from the 70’s – I’ve read haven’t worked so well for me. I don’t understand why people rave about them.
    I will say my path to romance was from all the classic girl books (Lousia May Alcott, Ann of Green Gables, Little House, etc.) to Jane Austen and Jane Eyre to historical romances, and part of the appeal was that they were so heroine centered.
    -Michelle

    Reply
  13. I thought on whether Romance novels have proven successful in shaping the world (for women) around us. I imagine the number of young, talented women writers who choose writing romance as a career goal before they’ve even graduated college have been influenced by the genre and are influencing it in positive, innovative ways. Also, I’m often happy to learn of the maturity of a new author with a very refreshing voice.
    Cathy, the idealist

    Reply
  14. I thought on whether Romance novels have proven successful in shaping the world (for women) around us. I imagine the number of young, talented women writers who choose writing romance as a career goal before they’ve even graduated college have been influenced by the genre and are influencing it in positive, innovative ways. Also, I’m often happy to learn of the maturity of a new author with a very refreshing voice.
    Cathy, the idealist

    Reply
  15. I thought on whether Romance novels have proven successful in shaping the world (for women) around us. I imagine the number of young, talented women writers who choose writing romance as a career goal before they’ve even graduated college have been influenced by the genre and are influencing it in positive, innovative ways. Also, I’m often happy to learn of the maturity of a new author with a very refreshing voice.
    Cathy, the idealist

    Reply
  16. Michelle, I think those early 70s romances were popular because they were so strongly woman centered–emotions and relationships and nuances were at the center of the story, and a lot of readers hadn’t seen that before, so it was exciting. Over time, the readers and the genre have evolved beyond those early books. But like the Beatles “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” those 70s romances heralded a brave new world.
    I must admit that I wasn’t a reader of historical romance in the 70s, and the few books I read later, when I started writing, didn’t work for me. I snuck in the back door with Regencies and Georgette Heyer, so I’m probably atypical.
    Cathy, I think the available books are definitely influencing young women. Chick lit is certainly a reflection of the young urban woman learning to define herself.
    On a different note, we now have archives operating to show the earliest posts. The archive link is now in the left column, under the book covers.
    MJP

    Reply
  17. Michelle, I think those early 70s romances were popular because they were so strongly woman centered–emotions and relationships and nuances were at the center of the story, and a lot of readers hadn’t seen that before, so it was exciting. Over time, the readers and the genre have evolved beyond those early books. But like the Beatles “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” those 70s romances heralded a brave new world.
    I must admit that I wasn’t a reader of historical romance in the 70s, and the few books I read later, when I started writing, didn’t work for me. I snuck in the back door with Regencies and Georgette Heyer, so I’m probably atypical.
    Cathy, I think the available books are definitely influencing young women. Chick lit is certainly a reflection of the young urban woman learning to define herself.
    On a different note, we now have archives operating to show the earliest posts. The archive link is now in the left column, under the book covers.
    MJP

    Reply
  18. Michelle, I think those early 70s romances were popular because they were so strongly woman centered–emotions and relationships and nuances were at the center of the story, and a lot of readers hadn’t seen that before, so it was exciting. Over time, the readers and the genre have evolved beyond those early books. But like the Beatles “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” those 70s romances heralded a brave new world.
    I must admit that I wasn’t a reader of historical romance in the 70s, and the few books I read later, when I started writing, didn’t work for me. I snuck in the back door with Regencies and Georgette Heyer, so I’m probably atypical.
    Cathy, I think the available books are definitely influencing young women. Chick lit is certainly a reflection of the young urban woman learning to define herself.
    On a different note, we now have archives operating to show the earliest posts. The archive link is now in the left column, under the book covers.
    MJP

    Reply
  19. The first real popular romance that I remember is “Shanna” by Kathleen Woodweiss. She kind of made history with the best seller lists. Unfortunately her books haven’t held up to the test of time because the heroines seem a little silly now. Unlike Emily Loring (WWII) and Georgette Heyer (the Regency) who have, I think held up because the heroines are strong. Betty Neels novels I loved as a teenager. I moved on but went back and read one a year or so ago. Now, I had to feel sad for this woman who is used by her family, marries a doctor who never says he loves her, her life becomes a little aimless – because after all, he married her because she was a wonderful nurse but now that she is married to wealthy doctor she no longer works – until she leaves him, he follows her and FINALLY says, I love you.
    I haven’t read the work of all the woman of Word Wenches but those that I have, I love. Mary Jo Putney, Loretta Chase, Jo Beverley… I buy without even reading the fly leaf because I know they will give me characters I know I will enjoy meeting even if I don’t always agree with the choices they make… they are all busy living their lives in pursuit of something!!! Thank you all for ALL the hours of pleasure!

    Reply
  20. The first real popular romance that I remember is “Shanna” by Kathleen Woodweiss. She kind of made history with the best seller lists. Unfortunately her books haven’t held up to the test of time because the heroines seem a little silly now. Unlike Emily Loring (WWII) and Georgette Heyer (the Regency) who have, I think held up because the heroines are strong. Betty Neels novels I loved as a teenager. I moved on but went back and read one a year or so ago. Now, I had to feel sad for this woman who is used by her family, marries a doctor who never says he loves her, her life becomes a little aimless – because after all, he married her because she was a wonderful nurse but now that she is married to wealthy doctor she no longer works – until she leaves him, he follows her and FINALLY says, I love you.
    I haven’t read the work of all the woman of Word Wenches but those that I have, I love. Mary Jo Putney, Loretta Chase, Jo Beverley… I buy without even reading the fly leaf because I know they will give me characters I know I will enjoy meeting even if I don’t always agree with the choices they make… they are all busy living their lives in pursuit of something!!! Thank you all for ALL the hours of pleasure!

    Reply
  21. The first real popular romance that I remember is “Shanna” by Kathleen Woodweiss. She kind of made history with the best seller lists. Unfortunately her books haven’t held up to the test of time because the heroines seem a little silly now. Unlike Emily Loring (WWII) and Georgette Heyer (the Regency) who have, I think held up because the heroines are strong. Betty Neels novels I loved as a teenager. I moved on but went back and read one a year or so ago. Now, I had to feel sad for this woman who is used by her family, marries a doctor who never says he loves her, her life becomes a little aimless – because after all, he married her because she was a wonderful nurse but now that she is married to wealthy doctor she no longer works – until she leaves him, he follows her and FINALLY says, I love you.
    I haven’t read the work of all the woman of Word Wenches but those that I have, I love. Mary Jo Putney, Loretta Chase, Jo Beverley… I buy without even reading the fly leaf because I know they will give me characters I know I will enjoy meeting even if I don’t always agree with the choices they make… they are all busy living their lives in pursuit of something!!! Thank you all for ALL the hours of pleasure!

    Reply
  22. Thanks for saying that, Mary Jo.
    I’ve been thinking about this blog half the day – partly because the idea of heroine from object to subject was the “theme” of one of my literature classes (20th century Mexican novels written by women and dealing with the Mexican Revolution at one point or another) in college – and what does it say that a “literature” class could represent the same theme as one for romance novels of the past 30 years.
    Then, I remembered a pop culture/literature class I took in which I compared american romance novels to spanish romance novels. Anyway, pop culture reflects tons of what is going on in society. (I realize this is a dah moment for people reading this.) So, how much does romance novels reflect the feminist movement and the changing views of gender in America and how much does it play a part in making that change? Thinking about this makes me prouder to read romance novels. 🙂
    -Michelle

    Reply
  23. Thanks for saying that, Mary Jo.
    I’ve been thinking about this blog half the day – partly because the idea of heroine from object to subject was the “theme” of one of my literature classes (20th century Mexican novels written by women and dealing with the Mexican Revolution at one point or another) in college – and what does it say that a “literature” class could represent the same theme as one for romance novels of the past 30 years.
    Then, I remembered a pop culture/literature class I took in which I compared american romance novels to spanish romance novels. Anyway, pop culture reflects tons of what is going on in society. (I realize this is a dah moment for people reading this.) So, how much does romance novels reflect the feminist movement and the changing views of gender in America and how much does it play a part in making that change? Thinking about this makes me prouder to read romance novels. 🙂
    -Michelle

    Reply
  24. Thanks for saying that, Mary Jo.
    I’ve been thinking about this blog half the day – partly because the idea of heroine from object to subject was the “theme” of one of my literature classes (20th century Mexican novels written by women and dealing with the Mexican Revolution at one point or another) in college – and what does it say that a “literature” class could represent the same theme as one for romance novels of the past 30 years.
    Then, I remembered a pop culture/literature class I took in which I compared american romance novels to spanish romance novels. Anyway, pop culture reflects tons of what is going on in society. (I realize this is a dah moment for people reading this.) So, how much does romance novels reflect the feminist movement and the changing views of gender in America and how much does it play a part in making that change? Thinking about this makes me prouder to read romance novels. 🙂
    -Michelle

    Reply
  25. I heartily second Mary Jo’s recommendation of Pam Regis’s book. Pam makes a persuasive case for connecting romance fiction to canonical texts. I also recommend Jenny Crusie’s essays; they are available on her web site.
    One encouraging sign of change is that romance fiction is more and more becoming an accepted area of research and study within academia. Many universities now routinely offer courses on romance fiction, and a new listserv, Romance Scholar, begun by Eric Selinger of DePaul University, provides lively, intelligent discussion of issues that romance writers, readers, and scholars all share.
    romancescholar@mailman.depaul.edu
    Kassia Krozner’s Romance Wiki is another invaluable resource that is expanding daily.
    http://www.romancewiki.com

    Reply
  26. I heartily second Mary Jo’s recommendation of Pam Regis’s book. Pam makes a persuasive case for connecting romance fiction to canonical texts. I also recommend Jenny Crusie’s essays; they are available on her web site.
    One encouraging sign of change is that romance fiction is more and more becoming an accepted area of research and study within academia. Many universities now routinely offer courses on romance fiction, and a new listserv, Romance Scholar, begun by Eric Selinger of DePaul University, provides lively, intelligent discussion of issues that romance writers, readers, and scholars all share.
    romancescholar@mailman.depaul.edu
    Kassia Krozner’s Romance Wiki is another invaluable resource that is expanding daily.
    http://www.romancewiki.com

    Reply
  27. I heartily second Mary Jo’s recommendation of Pam Regis’s book. Pam makes a persuasive case for connecting romance fiction to canonical texts. I also recommend Jenny Crusie’s essays; they are available on her web site.
    One encouraging sign of change is that romance fiction is more and more becoming an accepted area of research and study within academia. Many universities now routinely offer courses on romance fiction, and a new listserv, Romance Scholar, begun by Eric Selinger of DePaul University, provides lively, intelligent discussion of issues that romance writers, readers, and scholars all share.
    romancescholar@mailman.depaul.edu
    Kassia Krozner’s Romance Wiki is another invaluable resource that is expanding daily.
    http://www.romancewiki.com

    Reply
  28. Your raises interesting points, Mary Jo.
    Before I morphed into Miranda, I worked at Bryn Mawr College, a bastion of intellectual feminism if ever there was one. The students are very bright, very thoughtful, very diverse.
    Yet in every dormitory lounge was a well-thumbed collection of romance novels. No matter the author or title, all of these books would always fall open to love scenes. The students were unapologetic about this, too: while they would howl at the occasional purple prose, they loved romances because, unlike much literary fiction, the heroines were never punished for enjoying sex.
    You go, girls!

    Reply
  29. Your raises interesting points, Mary Jo.
    Before I morphed into Miranda, I worked at Bryn Mawr College, a bastion of intellectual feminism if ever there was one. The students are very bright, very thoughtful, very diverse.
    Yet in every dormitory lounge was a well-thumbed collection of romance novels. No matter the author or title, all of these books would always fall open to love scenes. The students were unapologetic about this, too: while they would howl at the occasional purple prose, they loved romances because, unlike much literary fiction, the heroines were never punished for enjoying sex.
    You go, girls!

    Reply
  30. Your raises interesting points, Mary Jo.
    Before I morphed into Miranda, I worked at Bryn Mawr College, a bastion of intellectual feminism if ever there was one. The students are very bright, very thoughtful, very diverse.
    Yet in every dormitory lounge was a well-thumbed collection of romance novels. No matter the author or title, all of these books would always fall open to love scenes. The students were unapologetic about this, too: while they would howl at the occasional purple prose, they loved romances because, unlike much literary fiction, the heroines were never punished for enjoying sex.
    You go, girls!

    Reply
  31. JPOORMAN: I agree that a lot of those early historical romances don’t hold up because society and women have changed so much. But they were part of that change by being woman-centered, and that’s worthy of respect. Shanna and Buffy are a long way apart, but not unrelated. 🙂 (Since typepad won’t copy a grin symbol, I’m trying the colon/paren. We’ll see if that works!)
    WYLENE: Thanks for posting more info on literary studies of romance.
    MICHELLE: I firmly believe any theme that can be explored in “literature” can be explored in popular fiction. The principal difference is presentation: popular fiction is more accessible. (And may be more simplistic, but not necessarily.)
    CATHY: Some stories just speak to us over the years. I’ve never read SHANNA, but I know it was a great favorite with a strong plot. I learned this when I published an early Regency, The Would-Be Widow, and several people told me the plot was similar to SHANNA. 🙂 But really, I swear I never read the book!
    SUSAN/MIRANDA: I love knowing that Bryn Mawr girls read romances with no apologies! We’ve come a long way.
    mjp

    Reply
  32. JPOORMAN: I agree that a lot of those early historical romances don’t hold up because society and women have changed so much. But they were part of that change by being woman-centered, and that’s worthy of respect. Shanna and Buffy are a long way apart, but not unrelated. 🙂 (Since typepad won’t copy a grin symbol, I’m trying the colon/paren. We’ll see if that works!)
    WYLENE: Thanks for posting more info on literary studies of romance.
    MICHELLE: I firmly believe any theme that can be explored in “literature” can be explored in popular fiction. The principal difference is presentation: popular fiction is more accessible. (And may be more simplistic, but not necessarily.)
    CATHY: Some stories just speak to us over the years. I’ve never read SHANNA, but I know it was a great favorite with a strong plot. I learned this when I published an early Regency, The Would-Be Widow, and several people told me the plot was similar to SHANNA. 🙂 But really, I swear I never read the book!
    SUSAN/MIRANDA: I love knowing that Bryn Mawr girls read romances with no apologies! We’ve come a long way.
    mjp

    Reply
  33. JPOORMAN: I agree that a lot of those early historical romances don’t hold up because society and women have changed so much. But they were part of that change by being woman-centered, and that’s worthy of respect. Shanna and Buffy are a long way apart, but not unrelated. 🙂 (Since typepad won’t copy a grin symbol, I’m trying the colon/paren. We’ll see if that works!)
    WYLENE: Thanks for posting more info on literary studies of romance.
    MICHELLE: I firmly believe any theme that can be explored in “literature” can be explored in popular fiction. The principal difference is presentation: popular fiction is more accessible. (And may be more simplistic, but not necessarily.)
    CATHY: Some stories just speak to us over the years. I’ve never read SHANNA, but I know it was a great favorite with a strong plot. I learned this when I published an early Regency, The Would-Be Widow, and several people told me the plot was similar to SHANNA. 🙂 But really, I swear I never read the book!
    SUSAN/MIRANDA: I love knowing that Bryn Mawr girls read romances with no apologies! We’ve come a long way.
    mjp

    Reply
  34. I personally don’t think the romance genre has empowered women. I’ve found that it’s the only genre where its readers(predominantly women) hide and smuggle their books, develop techniques for shielding their covers and are embarrassed to discuss their reading habits with others not known to read romances.
    And as for the heroines, certainly there were a lot of “forced seductions”, but there was a freshness, and overblown realness to the heroine’s sexuality that would never be countenanced today. Readers (and publishers) would be horrified to open a book where the heroine has multiple partners and the first man she sleeps with turns out to not be the hero! I’m a novice to the genre, having only read it for the past four years, but in reading whatever interested me at the library for the first two years or so, I’ve been able to read selections published in the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s and boy is there a big difference. I’ve found the romance genre to have become increasingly and alarmingly hero-centric. For example, a series is more likely to have their focused placed more on the men than the women. The men are able, when not written as cardboard rakes, are able to run the gamut of emotions and experiences, whereas a woman in the book with the same experiences and emotions would most likely be the “Evil Other Woman”. Which brings another thing to mind. How can romances be empowering to women when the antagonist is more likely to be an evil, “over-sexed” woman(who most likely had a sexual past with the hero) to throw the heroine’s blinding “innocence” into relief? Isn’t the focus on the heroine’s virginity and/or sexual innocence a bit “Victorian”?

    Reply
  35. I personally don’t think the romance genre has empowered women. I’ve found that it’s the only genre where its readers(predominantly women) hide and smuggle their books, develop techniques for shielding their covers and are embarrassed to discuss their reading habits with others not known to read romances.
    And as for the heroines, certainly there were a lot of “forced seductions”, but there was a freshness, and overblown realness to the heroine’s sexuality that would never be countenanced today. Readers (and publishers) would be horrified to open a book where the heroine has multiple partners and the first man she sleeps with turns out to not be the hero! I’m a novice to the genre, having only read it for the past four years, but in reading whatever interested me at the library for the first two years or so, I’ve been able to read selections published in the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s and boy is there a big difference. I’ve found the romance genre to have become increasingly and alarmingly hero-centric. For example, a series is more likely to have their focused placed more on the men than the women. The men are able, when not written as cardboard rakes, are able to run the gamut of emotions and experiences, whereas a woman in the book with the same experiences and emotions would most likely be the “Evil Other Woman”. Which brings another thing to mind. How can romances be empowering to women when the antagonist is more likely to be an evil, “over-sexed” woman(who most likely had a sexual past with the hero) to throw the heroine’s blinding “innocence” into relief? Isn’t the focus on the heroine’s virginity and/or sexual innocence a bit “Victorian”?

    Reply
  36. I personally don’t think the romance genre has empowered women. I’ve found that it’s the only genre where its readers(predominantly women) hide and smuggle their books, develop techniques for shielding their covers and are embarrassed to discuss their reading habits with others not known to read romances.
    And as for the heroines, certainly there were a lot of “forced seductions”, but there was a freshness, and overblown realness to the heroine’s sexuality that would never be countenanced today. Readers (and publishers) would be horrified to open a book where the heroine has multiple partners and the first man she sleeps with turns out to not be the hero! I’m a novice to the genre, having only read it for the past four years, but in reading whatever interested me at the library for the first two years or so, I’ve been able to read selections published in the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s and boy is there a big difference. I’ve found the romance genre to have become increasingly and alarmingly hero-centric. For example, a series is more likely to have their focused placed more on the men than the women. The men are able, when not written as cardboard rakes, are able to run the gamut of emotions and experiences, whereas a woman in the book with the same experiences and emotions would most likely be the “Evil Other Woman”. Which brings another thing to mind. How can romances be empowering to women when the antagonist is more likely to be an evil, “over-sexed” woman(who most likely had a sexual past with the hero) to throw the heroine’s blinding “innocence” into relief? Isn’t the focus on the heroine’s virginity and/or sexual innocence a bit “Victorian”?

    Reply
  37. Camilla,
    I think I still tend to read the romances that have stronger, complex heroines, and I just may be missing the romances that have the heavily-sexed women as the villian. I remember reading some harlequin presents like that in the late 80’s but I just can’t think of a romance from today like that. I think the heroines in the books I tend to prefer can take on the men in the depths of their experiences and emotions – though they are different experiences and emotions. But, I just may not tend to read the romances you are referring to.
    Regarding the “freshness and overblown” realness of the heroine’s sexuality in the books from the ’70’s and ’80s, I heard an author say somewhere that this was part of the sexual revolution – a way for the arguments about sexual freedom and it’s ok to explore your sexuality to reach middle america – or something like that. I’m thinking the change may be that women no longer have to be “forced” to enjoy sex in forced seductions – but perhaps I just haven’t read the books you are referring to. It also could be that women’s sexuality – in the way you want it explored – is getting explored more in erotica now. I really do think there are so many types of romances out there that one can find whatever she is looking for.
    The whole virginity thing – in historicals at least – there may be a lot of historical realism to a single woman being a virgin. As well, I think that all the very first love scenes for a virgin speak to yet another female sexual fantasy.
    In regards to women being ashamed to be seen reading romance, I don’t think that is because of the content of the books. I think that is because we’ve been “socialized” to be ashamed to read them – that we are surrounded by folks who will look down on us for reading them – and I think that is changing a little bit. In my undergrad days at a la de da school, there were lots of women reading romance – I see them reading them on the metro. I just don’t see people being that ashamed of reading romances like I did 15 years ago. Perhaps that is changed, or I’ve just gotten older and could no longer care if someone looks down on me for reading romance.
    -Michelle

    Reply
  38. Camilla,
    I think I still tend to read the romances that have stronger, complex heroines, and I just may be missing the romances that have the heavily-sexed women as the villian. I remember reading some harlequin presents like that in the late 80’s but I just can’t think of a romance from today like that. I think the heroines in the books I tend to prefer can take on the men in the depths of their experiences and emotions – though they are different experiences and emotions. But, I just may not tend to read the romances you are referring to.
    Regarding the “freshness and overblown” realness of the heroine’s sexuality in the books from the ’70’s and ’80s, I heard an author say somewhere that this was part of the sexual revolution – a way for the arguments about sexual freedom and it’s ok to explore your sexuality to reach middle america – or something like that. I’m thinking the change may be that women no longer have to be “forced” to enjoy sex in forced seductions – but perhaps I just haven’t read the books you are referring to. It also could be that women’s sexuality – in the way you want it explored – is getting explored more in erotica now. I really do think there are so many types of romances out there that one can find whatever she is looking for.
    The whole virginity thing – in historicals at least – there may be a lot of historical realism to a single woman being a virgin. As well, I think that all the very first love scenes for a virgin speak to yet another female sexual fantasy.
    In regards to women being ashamed to be seen reading romance, I don’t think that is because of the content of the books. I think that is because we’ve been “socialized” to be ashamed to read them – that we are surrounded by folks who will look down on us for reading them – and I think that is changing a little bit. In my undergrad days at a la de da school, there were lots of women reading romance – I see them reading them on the metro. I just don’t see people being that ashamed of reading romances like I did 15 years ago. Perhaps that is changed, or I’ve just gotten older and could no longer care if someone looks down on me for reading romance.
    -Michelle

    Reply
  39. Camilla,
    I think I still tend to read the romances that have stronger, complex heroines, and I just may be missing the romances that have the heavily-sexed women as the villian. I remember reading some harlequin presents like that in the late 80’s but I just can’t think of a romance from today like that. I think the heroines in the books I tend to prefer can take on the men in the depths of their experiences and emotions – though they are different experiences and emotions. But, I just may not tend to read the romances you are referring to.
    Regarding the “freshness and overblown” realness of the heroine’s sexuality in the books from the ’70’s and ’80s, I heard an author say somewhere that this was part of the sexual revolution – a way for the arguments about sexual freedom and it’s ok to explore your sexuality to reach middle america – or something like that. I’m thinking the change may be that women no longer have to be “forced” to enjoy sex in forced seductions – but perhaps I just haven’t read the books you are referring to. It also could be that women’s sexuality – in the way you want it explored – is getting explored more in erotica now. I really do think there are so many types of romances out there that one can find whatever she is looking for.
    The whole virginity thing – in historicals at least – there may be a lot of historical realism to a single woman being a virgin. As well, I think that all the very first love scenes for a virgin speak to yet another female sexual fantasy.
    In regards to women being ashamed to be seen reading romance, I don’t think that is because of the content of the books. I think that is because we’ve been “socialized” to be ashamed to read them – that we are surrounded by folks who will look down on us for reading them – and I think that is changing a little bit. In my undergrad days at a la de da school, there were lots of women reading romance – I see them reading them on the metro. I just don’t see people being that ashamed of reading romances like I did 15 years ago. Perhaps that is changed, or I’ve just gotten older and could no longer care if someone looks down on me for reading romance.
    -Michelle

    Reply
  40. I’m catching up and madly commenting.
    I find the discussion of romance in Northrop Frye’s theory of genres very interesting and useful, but because I am a kindly Mole, I will not attempt to share it with you.
    I may be unique here in preferring the “old-fashioned” Traditional Regency, such as Heyer and most of the Signet Regencies, to the more sensual historical romances. In romance, I read pretty much exclusively romantic suspense and Regency; and what I like about the latter is the fully realized secondary universe. Sex doesn’t change much over the ages, but conversation and fashion do! And that is what fascinates me.
    And I’m really annoyed when writers impose really anachronistic “modern” sensibilities on a historical heroine. Not that I object to the heroines being strong and independent and intelligent, or wanting things modern women have like independence or a profession; but I do object to a heroine cheerfully letting herself be seduced without a qualm when in real life it might mean she’d be ruined for life, cast off by her family, and forced to wear the moral equivalent of a scarlet A for the rest of her life.

    Reply
  41. I’m catching up and madly commenting.
    I find the discussion of romance in Northrop Frye’s theory of genres very interesting and useful, but because I am a kindly Mole, I will not attempt to share it with you.
    I may be unique here in preferring the “old-fashioned” Traditional Regency, such as Heyer and most of the Signet Regencies, to the more sensual historical romances. In romance, I read pretty much exclusively romantic suspense and Regency; and what I like about the latter is the fully realized secondary universe. Sex doesn’t change much over the ages, but conversation and fashion do! And that is what fascinates me.
    And I’m really annoyed when writers impose really anachronistic “modern” sensibilities on a historical heroine. Not that I object to the heroines being strong and independent and intelligent, or wanting things modern women have like independence or a profession; but I do object to a heroine cheerfully letting herself be seduced without a qualm when in real life it might mean she’d be ruined for life, cast off by her family, and forced to wear the moral equivalent of a scarlet A for the rest of her life.

    Reply
  42. I’m catching up and madly commenting.
    I find the discussion of romance in Northrop Frye’s theory of genres very interesting and useful, but because I am a kindly Mole, I will not attempt to share it with you.
    I may be unique here in preferring the “old-fashioned” Traditional Regency, such as Heyer and most of the Signet Regencies, to the more sensual historical romances. In romance, I read pretty much exclusively romantic suspense and Regency; and what I like about the latter is the fully realized secondary universe. Sex doesn’t change much over the ages, but conversation and fashion do! And that is what fascinates me.
    And I’m really annoyed when writers impose really anachronistic “modern” sensibilities on a historical heroine. Not that I object to the heroines being strong and independent and intelligent, or wanting things modern women have like independence or a profession; but I do object to a heroine cheerfully letting herself be seduced without a qualm when in real life it might mean she’d be ruined for life, cast off by her family, and forced to wear the moral equivalent of a scarlet A for the rest of her life.

    Reply
  43. So many interesting comments! I’ll have to be concise here.
    TO CAMILLA: Michelle made a lot of the points I would, so I won’t repeat them. I agree that over time, the parameters of what is acceptable in romance have gotten narrower, but I think that bethe “herocentric” romances are cause women are interested in men, to the point of turning them into sex objects sometimes. (And I’m NOT saying that is necessarily an improvement!)
    I associate the ‘evil sexual other woman’ antagonist with a classical kind of Mills & Boon book, and I’ve never read a lot of those. I’m more likely to have read books like Jo Beverley’s AN UNWILLING BRIDE, where the bluestocking heroine makes friends with the hero’s former mistress. 🙂 There are a lot of books out there, and a lot of tastes. I do think there are fewer of the ‘evil sexual woman as villain’ books being published than there used to be.
    TO MICHELLE: A great post–which means I agree with just about everything you say. 🙂
    TO TALPIANNA: I agree that heroines blithely bedding heroes with no thought for consequences is anachronistic. If it’s done in a book, best that it be in circumstances of high stress and motivation to make it plausible. Like you, I loved the traditional Regency. A great story is about characters and their relationship–whether they end up rolling in the hay is much less important to me as a reader.
    TO KEZIAH: Thanks for another good academic reference for romance. There are a fair number of books accumulating on the topic, I think.
    That’s all for now, folks!
    MJP

    Reply
  44. So many interesting comments! I’ll have to be concise here.
    TO CAMILLA: Michelle made a lot of the points I would, so I won’t repeat them. I agree that over time, the parameters of what is acceptable in romance have gotten narrower, but I think that bethe “herocentric” romances are cause women are interested in men, to the point of turning them into sex objects sometimes. (And I’m NOT saying that is necessarily an improvement!)
    I associate the ‘evil sexual other woman’ antagonist with a classical kind of Mills & Boon book, and I’ve never read a lot of those. I’m more likely to have read books like Jo Beverley’s AN UNWILLING BRIDE, where the bluestocking heroine makes friends with the hero’s former mistress. 🙂 There are a lot of books out there, and a lot of tastes. I do think there are fewer of the ‘evil sexual woman as villain’ books being published than there used to be.
    TO MICHELLE: A great post–which means I agree with just about everything you say. 🙂
    TO TALPIANNA: I agree that heroines blithely bedding heroes with no thought for consequences is anachronistic. If it’s done in a book, best that it be in circumstances of high stress and motivation to make it plausible. Like you, I loved the traditional Regency. A great story is about characters and their relationship–whether they end up rolling in the hay is much less important to me as a reader.
    TO KEZIAH: Thanks for another good academic reference for romance. There are a fair number of books accumulating on the topic, I think.
    That’s all for now, folks!
    MJP

    Reply
  45. So many interesting comments! I’ll have to be concise here.
    TO CAMILLA: Michelle made a lot of the points I would, so I won’t repeat them. I agree that over time, the parameters of what is acceptable in romance have gotten narrower, but I think that bethe “herocentric” romances are cause women are interested in men, to the point of turning them into sex objects sometimes. (And I’m NOT saying that is necessarily an improvement!)
    I associate the ‘evil sexual other woman’ antagonist with a classical kind of Mills & Boon book, and I’ve never read a lot of those. I’m more likely to have read books like Jo Beverley’s AN UNWILLING BRIDE, where the bluestocking heroine makes friends with the hero’s former mistress. 🙂 There are a lot of books out there, and a lot of tastes. I do think there are fewer of the ‘evil sexual woman as villain’ books being published than there used to be.
    TO MICHELLE: A great post–which means I agree with just about everything you say. 🙂
    TO TALPIANNA: I agree that heroines blithely bedding heroes with no thought for consequences is anachronistic. If it’s done in a book, best that it be in circumstances of high stress and motivation to make it plausible. Like you, I loved the traditional Regency. A great story is about characters and their relationship–whether they end up rolling in the hay is much less important to me as a reader.
    TO KEZIAH: Thanks for another good academic reference for romance. There are a fair number of books accumulating on the topic, I think.
    That’s all for now, folks!
    MJP

    Reply
  46. MJP,
    You have made my day! 🙂 Have a great holiday weekend.
    Camilla,
    In the Jayne Ann Krentz edited book Dangerous Men, Adventurous Women, there is an essay by Laura Kinsale about the Androgynous Hero. I remember it because I didn’t really get it. Anyway, she argued that the female reader identified with and experienced the adventures and experiences of the hero in the book. You may find it interesting.
    -Michelle

    Reply
  47. MJP,
    You have made my day! 🙂 Have a great holiday weekend.
    Camilla,
    In the Jayne Ann Krentz edited book Dangerous Men, Adventurous Women, there is an essay by Laura Kinsale about the Androgynous Hero. I remember it because I didn’t really get it. Anyway, she argued that the female reader identified with and experienced the adventures and experiences of the hero in the book. You may find it interesting.
    -Michelle

    Reply
  48. MJP,
    You have made my day! 🙂 Have a great holiday weekend.
    Camilla,
    In the Jayne Ann Krentz edited book Dangerous Men, Adventurous Women, there is an essay by Laura Kinsale about the Androgynous Hero. I remember it because I didn’t really get it. Anyway, she argued that the female reader identified with and experienced the adventures and experiences of the hero in the book. You may find it interesting.
    -Michelle

    Reply
  49. i, I think it is great that all of you authors starting a blog together beacause I love all of your books by dufferent authors of course!!

    Reply
  50. i, I think it is great that all of you authors starting a blog together beacause I love all of your books by dufferent authors of course!!

    Reply
  51. i, I think it is great that all of you authors starting a blog together beacause I love all of your books by dufferent authors of course!!

    Reply
  52. if we think of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth has to negotiate the territory that is unconventional, and questioning of society’s superficial standards, yet also recognizes, in a practical sense, how far it makes sense for her to push the envelope. i think that some of the best romances explore that negotiation. For example, Penelope’s conflicts in Romancing Mister Bridgerton, or Eve’s In Slightly Married.(the black presentation dress) Since Jane Austen is hardly a modern writer,
    this conflict perhaps exists through time. Perhaps what might at times be empowering about some Romance novels, is seeing that conflict/ struggle reflected elsewhere, thus knowing that each of us is not alone.

    Reply
  53. if we think of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth has to negotiate the territory that is unconventional, and questioning of society’s superficial standards, yet also recognizes, in a practical sense, how far it makes sense for her to push the envelope. i think that some of the best romances explore that negotiation. For example, Penelope’s conflicts in Romancing Mister Bridgerton, or Eve’s In Slightly Married.(the black presentation dress) Since Jane Austen is hardly a modern writer,
    this conflict perhaps exists through time. Perhaps what might at times be empowering about some Romance novels, is seeing that conflict/ struggle reflected elsewhere, thus knowing that each of us is not alone.

    Reply
  54. if we think of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth has to negotiate the territory that is unconventional, and questioning of society’s superficial standards, yet also recognizes, in a practical sense, how far it makes sense for her to push the envelope. i think that some of the best romances explore that negotiation. For example, Penelope’s conflicts in Romancing Mister Bridgerton, or Eve’s In Slightly Married.(the black presentation dress) Since Jane Austen is hardly a modern writer,
    this conflict perhaps exists through time. Perhaps what might at times be empowering about some Romance novels, is seeing that conflict/ struggle reflected elsewhere, thus knowing that each of us is not alone.

    Reply
  55. Just another comment in praise of this blog. In every list-serve I have belonged to I am always a lurker and never a poster. Here, I am posting- so thanks for creating wordwenches.

    Reply
  56. Just another comment in praise of this blog. In every list-serve I have belonged to I am always a lurker and never a poster. Here, I am posting- so thanks for creating wordwenches.

    Reply
  57. Just another comment in praise of this blog. In every list-serve I have belonged to I am always a lurker and never a poster. Here, I am posting- so thanks for creating wordwenches.

    Reply
  58. TO JESSICA: I’m glad you’re enjoying the Wenches! I think it fell into place so quickly because in many ways we’re similar–historical writers with long term careeers and mutual respect–even though our books are very different. We were all ready for this, I think.
    TO TALPIANNA: Yes, “daimon” is a perfect name for one’s unruly creative abilities!
    TO NINA: The Marriage Spell isn’t as dark as The China Bride–the hero is only slightly dead :), but I hope you enjoy it anyhow. As for coaxing out a reluctant muse (or daimon), there are a lot of possible answers–writers tend to discuss this all the time–but for me, what works is just showing up. Sitting down at the computer and seeing what comes. I keep my expectations low rather than pressure myself, and that seems to work.
    Also, if I seem to be stalled, that can often mean that there’s something not quite right about what I’ve just written. I need to get it right before I can move on.
    TO MERRY: Your remark about how the best romances study the negotiation between pushing the envelope and knowing how far to go is very insightful, though I’ve never thought about it that way. I like my heroines to be strong, but in ways that make sense for their time and place. How far is too far? As you suggest, it’s an eternal question. I’m glad you’ve come out of lurk!
    SUSAN SCOTT is absolutely right about how mortgages tend to focus one’s creative abilities. And dessert never hurts. 🙂
    TO SELINA:

    Reply
  59. TO JESSICA: I’m glad you’re enjoying the Wenches! I think it fell into place so quickly because in many ways we’re similar–historical writers with long term careeers and mutual respect–even though our books are very different. We were all ready for this, I think.
    TO TALPIANNA: Yes, “daimon” is a perfect name for one’s unruly creative abilities!
    TO NINA: The Marriage Spell isn’t as dark as The China Bride–the hero is only slightly dead :), but I hope you enjoy it anyhow. As for coaxing out a reluctant muse (or daimon), there are a lot of possible answers–writers tend to discuss this all the time–but for me, what works is just showing up. Sitting down at the computer and seeing what comes. I keep my expectations low rather than pressure myself, and that seems to work.
    Also, if I seem to be stalled, that can often mean that there’s something not quite right about what I’ve just written. I need to get it right before I can move on.
    TO MERRY: Your remark about how the best romances study the negotiation between pushing the envelope and knowing how far to go is very insightful, though I’ve never thought about it that way. I like my heroines to be strong, but in ways that make sense for their time and place. How far is too far? As you suggest, it’s an eternal question. I’m glad you’ve come out of lurk!
    SUSAN SCOTT is absolutely right about how mortgages tend to focus one’s creative abilities. And dessert never hurts. 🙂
    TO SELINA:

    Reply
  60. TO JESSICA: I’m glad you’re enjoying the Wenches! I think it fell into place so quickly because in many ways we’re similar–historical writers with long term careeers and mutual respect–even though our books are very different. We were all ready for this, I think.
    TO TALPIANNA: Yes, “daimon” is a perfect name for one’s unruly creative abilities!
    TO NINA: The Marriage Spell isn’t as dark as The China Bride–the hero is only slightly dead :), but I hope you enjoy it anyhow. As for coaxing out a reluctant muse (or daimon), there are a lot of possible answers–writers tend to discuss this all the time–but for me, what works is just showing up. Sitting down at the computer and seeing what comes. I keep my expectations low rather than pressure myself, and that seems to work.
    Also, if I seem to be stalled, that can often mean that there’s something not quite right about what I’ve just written. I need to get it right before I can move on.
    TO MERRY: Your remark about how the best romances study the negotiation between pushing the envelope and knowing how far to go is very insightful, though I’ve never thought about it that way. I like my heroines to be strong, but in ways that make sense for their time and place. How far is too far? As you suggest, it’s an eternal question. I’m glad you’ve come out of lurk!
    SUSAN SCOTT is absolutely right about how mortgages tend to focus one’s creative abilities. And dessert never hurts. 🙂
    TO SELINA:

    Reply
  61. TO JESSICA: I’m glad you’re enjoying the Wenches! I think it fell into place so quickly because in many ways we’re similar–historical writers with long term careeers and mutual respect–even though our books are very different. We were all ready for this, I think.
    TO TALPIANNA: Yes, “daimon” is a perfect name for one’s unruly creative abilities!
    TO NINA: The Marriage Spell isn’t as dark as The China Bride–the hero is only slightly dead :), but I hope you enjoy it anyhow. As for coaxing out a reluctant muse (or daimon), there are a lot of possible answers–writers tend to discuss this all the time–but for me, what works is just showing up. Sitting down at the computer and seeing what comes. I keep my expectations low rather than pressure myself, and that seems to work.
    Also, if I’m stalled, that can often mean that there’s something not quite right about what I’ve just written. I need to get it right before I can move on.
    As to my sff picks: Just about anything by Lois McMaster Bujold, Sharon Shinn, Laura Resnick, Catherine Asaro, Robin McKinley–and a few more if I had time to think about it!
    TO MERRY: Your remark about how the best romances study the negotiation between pushing the envelope and knowing how far to go is very insightful, though I’ve never thought about it that way. I like my heroines to be strong, but in ways that make sense for their time and place. How far is too far? As you suggest, it’s an eternal question. I’m glad you’ve come out of lurk!
    SUSAN SCOTT is absolutely right about how mortgages tend to focus one’s creative abilities. And dessert never hurts. 🙂
    TO SELINA: I’m so glad that I lured you into the steamy depths of romance! As I’m doing my best to prove, there’s a fair amount of crossover between romance and sff readers. Hope you enjoy The Marriage Spell.
    mjp

    Reply
  62. TO JESSICA: I’m glad you’re enjoying the Wenches! I think it fell into place so quickly because in many ways we’re similar–historical writers with long term careeers and mutual respect–even though our books are very different. We were all ready for this, I think.
    TO TALPIANNA: Yes, “daimon” is a perfect name for one’s unruly creative abilities!
    TO NINA: The Marriage Spell isn’t as dark as The China Bride–the hero is only slightly dead :), but I hope you enjoy it anyhow. As for coaxing out a reluctant muse (or daimon), there are a lot of possible answers–writers tend to discuss this all the time–but for me, what works is just showing up. Sitting down at the computer and seeing what comes. I keep my expectations low rather than pressure myself, and that seems to work.
    Also, if I’m stalled, that can often mean that there’s something not quite right about what I’ve just written. I need to get it right before I can move on.
    As to my sff picks: Just about anything by Lois McMaster Bujold, Sharon Shinn, Laura Resnick, Catherine Asaro, Robin McKinley–and a few more if I had time to think about it!
    TO MERRY: Your remark about how the best romances study the negotiation between pushing the envelope and knowing how far to go is very insightful, though I’ve never thought about it that way. I like my heroines to be strong, but in ways that make sense for their time and place. How far is too far? As you suggest, it’s an eternal question. I’m glad you’ve come out of lurk!
    SUSAN SCOTT is absolutely right about how mortgages tend to focus one’s creative abilities. And dessert never hurts. 🙂
    TO SELINA: I’m so glad that I lured you into the steamy depths of romance! As I’m doing my best to prove, there’s a fair amount of crossover between romance and sff readers. Hope you enjoy The Marriage Spell.
    mjp

    Reply
  63. TO JESSICA: I’m glad you’re enjoying the Wenches! I think it fell into place so quickly because in many ways we’re similar–historical writers with long term careeers and mutual respect–even though our books are very different. We were all ready for this, I think.
    TO TALPIANNA: Yes, “daimon” is a perfect name for one’s unruly creative abilities!
    TO NINA: The Marriage Spell isn’t as dark as The China Bride–the hero is only slightly dead :), but I hope you enjoy it anyhow. As for coaxing out a reluctant muse (or daimon), there are a lot of possible answers–writers tend to discuss this all the time–but for me, what works is just showing up. Sitting down at the computer and seeing what comes. I keep my expectations low rather than pressure myself, and that seems to work.
    Also, if I’m stalled, that can often mean that there’s something not quite right about what I’ve just written. I need to get it right before I can move on.
    As to my sff picks: Just about anything by Lois McMaster Bujold, Sharon Shinn, Laura Resnick, Catherine Asaro, Robin McKinley–and a few more if I had time to think about it!
    TO MERRY: Your remark about how the best romances study the negotiation between pushing the envelope and knowing how far to go is very insightful, though I’ve never thought about it that way. I like my heroines to be strong, but in ways that make sense for their time and place. How far is too far? As you suggest, it’s an eternal question. I’m glad you’ve come out of lurk!
    SUSAN SCOTT is absolutely right about how mortgages tend to focus one’s creative abilities. And dessert never hurts. 🙂
    TO SELINA: I’m so glad that I lured you into the steamy depths of romance! As I’m doing my best to prove, there’s a fair amount of crossover between romance and sff readers. Hope you enjoy The Marriage Spell.
    mjp

    Reply

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