The Politics of Romance

Readmodernladytablecitygig_1 It’s Tuesday, it must be Pat Rice .

Susanna poses an intriguing question about how authors approach their political beliefs in their writing. I was thoroughly tickled and pleased with the intelligence of our readers on Edith’s blog about the weather—hardly a political topic on the face of it but apparently a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.  Weather, who woulda thunked it?

Admittedly, the opinionated Irish in me never met a political argument she couldn’t jump into with both feet and fists flying. But as an author, I have two major responsibilities—first, to my readers to give them a wonderful, romantic story that will warm their hearts, and second, to my publishers, to produce a book that will earn out all that nice money they advance me against book sales.  Politics can easily infringe on both responsibilities.

But politics are part of history, part of the lives of our characters, and a major driving force of the world around us, as much as we might like to think otherwise.  I would happily write wonderful tales skewering the wrong side and promoting my side, and all my friends who agree with me would cheer me right on.  But such a book would only present half a picture, wouldn’t it?

As often as I scream that 90% of the human race are bloomin’ idgits, the truth is, every person, like every villain, is the hero of his own tale.  Every one of us sees the world from our own unique perspective and strives to move about in that world in a manner that we think socially acceptable to the people around us.  So if I’m writing about the real world, I have to give each character his or her own unique perspective, whether or not it agrees with mine. It would be a boring place if everyone thought like me! 

Don’t get me wrong—my opinions are strong and my themes will reflect them, but I prefer that readers think about them and make up their own minds.  The human race being what it is, it’s destined to repeat history unless we learn from it.  So I use history as a platform to present my arguments.  Readers who want sex and a love story will get great heaping mounds of it, because I sincerely believe love makes the world go around and loving our neighbors is the path to peace.  LavenderheartSo that’s always going to be my dominant theme.  Readers who want history will get it as accurately as I can portray it, given that I’m currently writing history mixed with fantasy. But it’s my choice of subjects that give me away to readers who dig deeper.

Which leads me to why I’m writing about the era of the French Revolution.  The only part of it that Americans seem to know about is the Bloody Terror, which was a horrific eighteen months of out-of-control judgment wrought by men with their own political agendas who would be called terrorists today.  The Revolution was far, far more than that.  In actuality, the first two years of overthrow were nearly bloodless, brought about by the economic bankruptcy of an entire nation.  I won’t go into all the details of what led to the educated middle class standing up as one and shouting for change, but what they saw was a gap so huge between rich and poor that anyone with a modicum of compassion would cry to end it. It’s that microcosm of Mmiscidealightbulbnet_1 history that fascinates me,stirs my imagination, and gives me story ideas to chase.

But as Susannah and other wenchlings have asked, how does a writer keep her own personal opinions out of the story? I can only speak for myself.  Obviously, I have an opinion on the Revolution and what it reflects today.  But my opinion is pretty irrelevant in the scope of things. I’m just a romance writer.  That’s what authors have to keep firmly in the front of their minds. We are not preachers. So what I’ll be trying to portray as I satisfy my intellectual curiosity about this piece of history is both sides of the coin—rich and poor, powerful and not.  And since I have little sympathy with greed and stupidity, I’m portraying the “wrong” side of the debate by using my very sympathetic, but haplessly arrogant, heroes <G>, who just happen to be living in isolation, unaware of the harm they’ve caused until confronted with it. Each individual will have their own take on problems and must learn their own lessons, even the “good” guys.  I’m hoping readers will come away with the feeling of a rollicking good story with a bit of something meatier to think on, if they like.

I think it’s a perfectly entertaining challenge, for instance, to match a suffragette with a hero who thinks women are good for only one thing.  Romance is about resolving conflicts, after all.  It may be tough to sympathize with a guy this thick-headed <G>, but if an author does her job properly, the reader will see why the hero believes what he does. And by sympathizing with his plight, we’re made to see the opposite side of the coin, aren’t we?  Seeing both sides of an argument is what we need to do to resolve our issues. Understanding,  and not proselytizing, is really what an author’s job is all about.Readshorthairwomanhandheadgif_1

How many readers prefer to leave today’s world behind and disappear into the imaginary ones of romance? And what about those of you who prefer historical fiction—do you want a real slice of life with big, problematic issues, or do you just want the personal issues that lead up to the bigger issues?  I know as a writer and reader, I prefer social issues to politics every time. How much do you think one reflects the other? Or is that an essay question? <G>

60 thoughts on “The Politics of Romance”

  1. Once again, I think everything comes down to the skill of the writer. I don’t want to be beaten on the head with some polemic, yet I read historical romance in part to learn about history…and I know all you Wenches do your research! Considering I haven’t had a formal history class since high school (shocking, I know), I’ve still picked up a lot of information in the *cough* intervening years.
    I believe when a writer is happily immersed in an era s/he will make it come alive, seamlessly grafting the political/social problems onto the core romance so that the characters don’t exist in a vacuum. But I do think we all read romance for its escape value, so the romance must come first.

    Reply
  2. Once again, I think everything comes down to the skill of the writer. I don’t want to be beaten on the head with some polemic, yet I read historical romance in part to learn about history…and I know all you Wenches do your research! Considering I haven’t had a formal history class since high school (shocking, I know), I’ve still picked up a lot of information in the *cough* intervening years.
    I believe when a writer is happily immersed in an era s/he will make it come alive, seamlessly grafting the political/social problems onto the core romance so that the characters don’t exist in a vacuum. But I do think we all read romance for its escape value, so the romance must come first.

    Reply
  3. Once again, I think everything comes down to the skill of the writer. I don’t want to be beaten on the head with some polemic, yet I read historical romance in part to learn about history…and I know all you Wenches do your research! Considering I haven’t had a formal history class since high school (shocking, I know), I’ve still picked up a lot of information in the *cough* intervening years.
    I believe when a writer is happily immersed in an era s/he will make it come alive, seamlessly grafting the political/social problems onto the core romance so that the characters don’t exist in a vacuum. But I do think we all read romance for its escape value, so the romance must come first.

    Reply
  4. Once again, I think everything comes down to the skill of the writer. I don’t want to be beaten on the head with some polemic, yet I read historical romance in part to learn about history…and I know all you Wenches do your research! Considering I haven’t had a formal history class since high school (shocking, I know), I’ve still picked up a lot of information in the *cough* intervening years.
    I believe when a writer is happily immersed in an era s/he will make it come alive, seamlessly grafting the political/social problems onto the core romance so that the characters don’t exist in a vacuum. But I do think we all read romance for its escape value, so the romance must come first.

    Reply
  5. I love BOTH the fantasy AND the slice of real life. That’s why so many of the wenches have places on my Keeper Shelf – because, for me, they achieve both in their books.
    As for the FR – thanks for making that point. As a student of the era (I wrote my MA thesis on David), I can attest to there being so much more to it than just the Terror. Until things went a bit nuts, many members of the nobility were in favour of a lot of the reforms that were introduced. Many were active participants in the government.
    In my own mss set during the era I try to get that across without giving a history lesson.
    Great post, Pat!!

    Reply
  6. I love BOTH the fantasy AND the slice of real life. That’s why so many of the wenches have places on my Keeper Shelf – because, for me, they achieve both in their books.
    As for the FR – thanks for making that point. As a student of the era (I wrote my MA thesis on David), I can attest to there being so much more to it than just the Terror. Until things went a bit nuts, many members of the nobility were in favour of a lot of the reforms that were introduced. Many were active participants in the government.
    In my own mss set during the era I try to get that across without giving a history lesson.
    Great post, Pat!!

    Reply
  7. I love BOTH the fantasy AND the slice of real life. That’s why so many of the wenches have places on my Keeper Shelf – because, for me, they achieve both in their books.
    As for the FR – thanks for making that point. As a student of the era (I wrote my MA thesis on David), I can attest to there being so much more to it than just the Terror. Until things went a bit nuts, many members of the nobility were in favour of a lot of the reforms that were introduced. Many were active participants in the government.
    In my own mss set during the era I try to get that across without giving a history lesson.
    Great post, Pat!!

    Reply
  8. I love BOTH the fantasy AND the slice of real life. That’s why so many of the wenches have places on my Keeper Shelf – because, for me, they achieve both in their books.
    As for the FR – thanks for making that point. As a student of the era (I wrote my MA thesis on David), I can attest to there being so much more to it than just the Terror. Until things went a bit nuts, many members of the nobility were in favour of a lot of the reforms that were introduced. Many were active participants in the government.
    In my own mss set during the era I try to get that across without giving a history lesson.
    Great post, Pat!!

    Reply
  9. Thank you, Pat! I really enjoyed your take. I think what you say is exactly correct – the writer must first be concerned with telling a riveting story. One of the reasons I enjoy reading historical fiction is because I like learning about other times, and when I know the author is striving to stay accurate to the time I also enjoy the politics. It does give you something to chew on.
    I read a mystery set in the Victorian era that dealt with sex trafficking of children, and the social issues of the time were important factors of the story. It was hard to read sometimes, but the story was masterful and it remains a favorite. The same author wrote a futuristic novel that was a thinly disguised polemic about a modern social issue, and I couldn’t get past the third chapter. Clear evidence that even very talented and skilled authors can lose their way when the politics are more important than the story. Had the futuristic story been as compelling as the Victorian one, I don’t doubt that I would have read it completely despite disagreeing with his politics.

    Reply
  10. Thank you, Pat! I really enjoyed your take. I think what you say is exactly correct – the writer must first be concerned with telling a riveting story. One of the reasons I enjoy reading historical fiction is because I like learning about other times, and when I know the author is striving to stay accurate to the time I also enjoy the politics. It does give you something to chew on.
    I read a mystery set in the Victorian era that dealt with sex trafficking of children, and the social issues of the time were important factors of the story. It was hard to read sometimes, but the story was masterful and it remains a favorite. The same author wrote a futuristic novel that was a thinly disguised polemic about a modern social issue, and I couldn’t get past the third chapter. Clear evidence that even very talented and skilled authors can lose their way when the politics are more important than the story. Had the futuristic story been as compelling as the Victorian one, I don’t doubt that I would have read it completely despite disagreeing with his politics.

    Reply
  11. Thank you, Pat! I really enjoyed your take. I think what you say is exactly correct – the writer must first be concerned with telling a riveting story. One of the reasons I enjoy reading historical fiction is because I like learning about other times, and when I know the author is striving to stay accurate to the time I also enjoy the politics. It does give you something to chew on.
    I read a mystery set in the Victorian era that dealt with sex trafficking of children, and the social issues of the time were important factors of the story. It was hard to read sometimes, but the story was masterful and it remains a favorite. The same author wrote a futuristic novel that was a thinly disguised polemic about a modern social issue, and I couldn’t get past the third chapter. Clear evidence that even very talented and skilled authors can lose their way when the politics are more important than the story. Had the futuristic story been as compelling as the Victorian one, I don’t doubt that I would have read it completely despite disagreeing with his politics.

    Reply
  12. Thank you, Pat! I really enjoyed your take. I think what you say is exactly correct – the writer must first be concerned with telling a riveting story. One of the reasons I enjoy reading historical fiction is because I like learning about other times, and when I know the author is striving to stay accurate to the time I also enjoy the politics. It does give you something to chew on.
    I read a mystery set in the Victorian era that dealt with sex trafficking of children, and the social issues of the time were important factors of the story. It was hard to read sometimes, but the story was masterful and it remains a favorite. The same author wrote a futuristic novel that was a thinly disguised polemic about a modern social issue, and I couldn’t get past the third chapter. Clear evidence that even very talented and skilled authors can lose their way when the politics are more important than the story. Had the futuristic story been as compelling as the Victorian one, I don’t doubt that I would have read it completely despite disagreeing with his politics.

    Reply
  13. No pressure or anything, huh? Just damned good writing and a terrific story and a great romance. “G” Gee, you’d think our readers expect something for their money!
    It’s good to hear that our readers like things to think about along with the fun parts, though. Believe it or not, it’s even harder to write mindless drivel than challenging politics!

    Reply
  14. No pressure or anything, huh? Just damned good writing and a terrific story and a great romance. “G” Gee, you’d think our readers expect something for their money!
    It’s good to hear that our readers like things to think about along with the fun parts, though. Believe it or not, it’s even harder to write mindless drivel than challenging politics!

    Reply
  15. No pressure or anything, huh? Just damned good writing and a terrific story and a great romance. “G” Gee, you’d think our readers expect something for their money!
    It’s good to hear that our readers like things to think about along with the fun parts, though. Believe it or not, it’s even harder to write mindless drivel than challenging politics!

    Reply
  16. No pressure or anything, huh? Just damned good writing and a terrific story and a great romance. “G” Gee, you’d think our readers expect something for their money!
    It’s good to hear that our readers like things to think about along with the fun parts, though. Believe it or not, it’s even harder to write mindless drivel than challenging politics!

    Reply
  17. I believe that! (harder to write mindless drivel)
    We get this vitriolic eloquence thing going when our minds are engaged…
    BTW, you are a damn good writer, Pat.
    Cathy

    Reply
  18. I believe that! (harder to write mindless drivel)
    We get this vitriolic eloquence thing going when our minds are engaged…
    BTW, you are a damn good writer, Pat.
    Cathy

    Reply
  19. I believe that! (harder to write mindless drivel)
    We get this vitriolic eloquence thing going when our minds are engaged…
    BTW, you are a damn good writer, Pat.
    Cathy

    Reply
  20. I believe that! (harder to write mindless drivel)
    We get this vitriolic eloquence thing going when our minds are engaged…
    BTW, you are a damn good writer, Pat.
    Cathy

    Reply
  21. I should clarify, lest I sound vitriolic… I should have said: We get this vitriolic eloquence thing going when our minds are engaged and we’re dealing with the idjits of the world.

    Reply
  22. I should clarify, lest I sound vitriolic… I should have said: We get this vitriolic eloquence thing going when our minds are engaged and we’re dealing with the idjits of the world.

    Reply
  23. I should clarify, lest I sound vitriolic… I should have said: We get this vitriolic eloquence thing going when our minds are engaged and we’re dealing with the idjits of the world.

    Reply
  24. I should clarify, lest I sound vitriolic… I should have said: We get this vitriolic eloquence thing going when our minds are engaged and we’re dealing with the idjits of the world.

    Reply
  25. I can’t say I’ve read much romance bent by a current political or social agenda, but ST:TNG and beyond often sported such. I do like it when it’s done right which means (from my perspective) the characters are challenged at every level to chose. For this challenge to be real, they must come up against the author’s world. Hard. And it must be a convincing world with a very real element of evil. This of course, it just my opinion. And, I am very intrigued by your new series. How did you handle the ‘evil’ in your world? Or is that asking too much, too soon?
    As for social vs. political, I prefer the social side very time. As a result of a scathing (and probably deserved) remark from a British friend to a joking comment I made about the Revolutionary War, I’m studying that point in history from the British perspective. Not so much the right or wrong of it, but rationalization and socialization conducted by both sides as to why ‘they’ had a right to kill for what they wanted. Very eye opening. And humbling. Don’t think it would make a good romance, but it might make a bang up epic high fantasy.
    Nina

    Reply
  26. I can’t say I’ve read much romance bent by a current political or social agenda, but ST:TNG and beyond often sported such. I do like it when it’s done right which means (from my perspective) the characters are challenged at every level to chose. For this challenge to be real, they must come up against the author’s world. Hard. And it must be a convincing world with a very real element of evil. This of course, it just my opinion. And, I am very intrigued by your new series. How did you handle the ‘evil’ in your world? Or is that asking too much, too soon?
    As for social vs. political, I prefer the social side very time. As a result of a scathing (and probably deserved) remark from a British friend to a joking comment I made about the Revolutionary War, I’m studying that point in history from the British perspective. Not so much the right or wrong of it, but rationalization and socialization conducted by both sides as to why ‘they’ had a right to kill for what they wanted. Very eye opening. And humbling. Don’t think it would make a good romance, but it might make a bang up epic high fantasy.
    Nina

    Reply
  27. I can’t say I’ve read much romance bent by a current political or social agenda, but ST:TNG and beyond often sported such. I do like it when it’s done right which means (from my perspective) the characters are challenged at every level to chose. For this challenge to be real, they must come up against the author’s world. Hard. And it must be a convincing world with a very real element of evil. This of course, it just my opinion. And, I am very intrigued by your new series. How did you handle the ‘evil’ in your world? Or is that asking too much, too soon?
    As for social vs. political, I prefer the social side very time. As a result of a scathing (and probably deserved) remark from a British friend to a joking comment I made about the Revolutionary War, I’m studying that point in history from the British perspective. Not so much the right or wrong of it, but rationalization and socialization conducted by both sides as to why ‘they’ had a right to kill for what they wanted. Very eye opening. And humbling. Don’t think it would make a good romance, but it might make a bang up epic high fantasy.
    Nina

    Reply
  28. I can’t say I’ve read much romance bent by a current political or social agenda, but ST:TNG and beyond often sported such. I do like it when it’s done right which means (from my perspective) the characters are challenged at every level to chose. For this challenge to be real, they must come up against the author’s world. Hard. And it must be a convincing world with a very real element of evil. This of course, it just my opinion. And, I am very intrigued by your new series. How did you handle the ‘evil’ in your world? Or is that asking too much, too soon?
    As for social vs. political, I prefer the social side very time. As a result of a scathing (and probably deserved) remark from a British friend to a joking comment I made about the Revolutionary War, I’m studying that point in history from the British perspective. Not so much the right or wrong of it, but rationalization and socialization conducted by both sides as to why ‘they’ had a right to kill for what they wanted. Very eye opening. And humbling. Don’t think it would make a good romance, but it might make a bang up epic high fantasy.
    Nina

    Reply
  29. The personal is political, so every romance novel has a political message, IMHO. Much of romance (at least the stuff that I like) concerns the development of psychological androgyny in both the female and male characters. (e.g. man opens up to his feelings, woman discovers her strength) Thus the potential of egalitarian interactions between the sexes are affirmed.
    As for more overt politics, many of the characters portrayed by the writers here, are concerned with justice– for the poor, or for those who can’t speak for themselves, or for children, or women who lack rights. these translate into political actions.
    As for the plans to write about the French Revolution, or to see the American Revolution from the British side–It is a political statement to portray the humanity of those on both sides of an argument. It affirms the principle of compassionate or respectful disagreement– not dehumanizing your opponent because of disagreement. horrible things happpen in history when this dehumanization takes place. (it’s not the only reason horrible things happen- people fight over resources and wealth, etc.) There are ethics of humanism– that compassionate respect for another– that I see working out in novels of this group. And ethics are political, at the deepest level of politics– at least that’s how I see it.
    Merry

    Reply
  30. The personal is political, so every romance novel has a political message, IMHO. Much of romance (at least the stuff that I like) concerns the development of psychological androgyny in both the female and male characters. (e.g. man opens up to his feelings, woman discovers her strength) Thus the potential of egalitarian interactions between the sexes are affirmed.
    As for more overt politics, many of the characters portrayed by the writers here, are concerned with justice– for the poor, or for those who can’t speak for themselves, or for children, or women who lack rights. these translate into political actions.
    As for the plans to write about the French Revolution, or to see the American Revolution from the British side–It is a political statement to portray the humanity of those on both sides of an argument. It affirms the principle of compassionate or respectful disagreement– not dehumanizing your opponent because of disagreement. horrible things happpen in history when this dehumanization takes place. (it’s not the only reason horrible things happen- people fight over resources and wealth, etc.) There are ethics of humanism– that compassionate respect for another– that I see working out in novels of this group. And ethics are political, at the deepest level of politics– at least that’s how I see it.
    Merry

    Reply
  31. The personal is political, so every romance novel has a political message, IMHO. Much of romance (at least the stuff that I like) concerns the development of psychological androgyny in both the female and male characters. (e.g. man opens up to his feelings, woman discovers her strength) Thus the potential of egalitarian interactions between the sexes are affirmed.
    As for more overt politics, many of the characters portrayed by the writers here, are concerned with justice– for the poor, or for those who can’t speak for themselves, or for children, or women who lack rights. these translate into political actions.
    As for the plans to write about the French Revolution, or to see the American Revolution from the British side–It is a political statement to portray the humanity of those on both sides of an argument. It affirms the principle of compassionate or respectful disagreement– not dehumanizing your opponent because of disagreement. horrible things happpen in history when this dehumanization takes place. (it’s not the only reason horrible things happen- people fight over resources and wealth, etc.) There are ethics of humanism– that compassionate respect for another– that I see working out in novels of this group. And ethics are political, at the deepest level of politics– at least that’s how I see it.
    Merry

    Reply
  32. The personal is political, so every romance novel has a political message, IMHO. Much of romance (at least the stuff that I like) concerns the development of psychological androgyny in both the female and male characters. (e.g. man opens up to his feelings, woman discovers her strength) Thus the potential of egalitarian interactions between the sexes are affirmed.
    As for more overt politics, many of the characters portrayed by the writers here, are concerned with justice– for the poor, or for those who can’t speak for themselves, or for children, or women who lack rights. these translate into political actions.
    As for the plans to write about the French Revolution, or to see the American Revolution from the British side–It is a political statement to portray the humanity of those on both sides of an argument. It affirms the principle of compassionate or respectful disagreement– not dehumanizing your opponent because of disagreement. horrible things happpen in history when this dehumanization takes place. (it’s not the only reason horrible things happen- people fight over resources and wealth, etc.) There are ethics of humanism– that compassionate respect for another– that I see working out in novels of this group. And ethics are political, at the deepest level of politics– at least that’s how I see it.
    Merry

    Reply
  33. This is a struggle I face when approaching history and my writing. I tend to use the politics of the time to bring more flavor to the plot and characters–eg: the errosion of the power of the House of Lords in the 1900s, or the ethnic tensions in Austria-Hungary, the Troubles in Ireland or pre-Revolution Russia, etc–but who am I say that one side is more “right” over the other? It’s difficult to strike that balance, especially since in a romance, the romance is supposed to be the heart of the book, literally. *g* It’s frustrating because the issues are provacative and tension-filled, but where do I draw the line in presenting my own agenda or version of the situation ?
    Maybe that’s why the ultra-meaty Medievals of Jo Beverley, Marsha Canham and Roberta Gellis,etc are such difficult reads for a lot of readers. Those light, fun reads concerned with jousting and fiefs go down much easier than the medieval romances based around political tensions.

    Reply
  34. This is a struggle I face when approaching history and my writing. I tend to use the politics of the time to bring more flavor to the plot and characters–eg: the errosion of the power of the House of Lords in the 1900s, or the ethnic tensions in Austria-Hungary, the Troubles in Ireland or pre-Revolution Russia, etc–but who am I say that one side is more “right” over the other? It’s difficult to strike that balance, especially since in a romance, the romance is supposed to be the heart of the book, literally. *g* It’s frustrating because the issues are provacative and tension-filled, but where do I draw the line in presenting my own agenda or version of the situation ?
    Maybe that’s why the ultra-meaty Medievals of Jo Beverley, Marsha Canham and Roberta Gellis,etc are such difficult reads for a lot of readers. Those light, fun reads concerned with jousting and fiefs go down much easier than the medieval romances based around political tensions.

    Reply
  35. This is a struggle I face when approaching history and my writing. I tend to use the politics of the time to bring more flavor to the plot and characters–eg: the errosion of the power of the House of Lords in the 1900s, or the ethnic tensions in Austria-Hungary, the Troubles in Ireland or pre-Revolution Russia, etc–but who am I say that one side is more “right” over the other? It’s difficult to strike that balance, especially since in a romance, the romance is supposed to be the heart of the book, literally. *g* It’s frustrating because the issues are provacative and tension-filled, but where do I draw the line in presenting my own agenda or version of the situation ?
    Maybe that’s why the ultra-meaty Medievals of Jo Beverley, Marsha Canham and Roberta Gellis,etc are such difficult reads for a lot of readers. Those light, fun reads concerned with jousting and fiefs go down much easier than the medieval romances based around political tensions.

    Reply
  36. This is a struggle I face when approaching history and my writing. I tend to use the politics of the time to bring more flavor to the plot and characters–eg: the errosion of the power of the House of Lords in the 1900s, or the ethnic tensions in Austria-Hungary, the Troubles in Ireland or pre-Revolution Russia, etc–but who am I say that one side is more “right” over the other? It’s difficult to strike that balance, especially since in a romance, the romance is supposed to be the heart of the book, literally. *g* It’s frustrating because the issues are provacative and tension-filled, but where do I draw the line in presenting my own agenda or version of the situation ?
    Maybe that’s why the ultra-meaty Medievals of Jo Beverley, Marsha Canham and Roberta Gellis,etc are such difficult reads for a lot of readers. Those light, fun reads concerned with jousting and fiefs go down much easier than the medieval romances based around political tensions.

    Reply
  37. Hi Pat,
    Again I am chiming in late because your post and the comments made me Think! (One of the reasons why I love the Wenches’ books and why I love this blog.)
    You say “I’m just a romance writer. . .we are not preachers.” I’d like to take issue with this a little bit because I believe that we are ALL preachers–not in the sense that we preach in a church from a pulpit about particular religious dogma or political issues. We are all preachers in the sense that our lives and our work, whatever that happens to be, proclaims to the world what we value and what our priorities are.
    Your novels (damn good rollicking stories, BTW) may not deal with a Compelling Social Issue or tell us whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, but they do proclaim loud and clear the values you find important and compelling: for example, “love makes the world go around and loving our neighbors is the path to peace.”
    Here are some other values/themes one finds “preached” in romance novels, yours and others (some pointed out very articulately by the posters above): love can overcome misunderstanding; honor is worth something; there is meaning in life, and sometimes in death; good triumphs over evil, and sometimes even redeems evil; justice and stewardship are better than greed and stupidity; hope can overcome despair. And I’m sure there are many more.
    You communicate these values in your writing and then it is my privilege as a reader to respond–by throwing the book against the wall, or by putting it on the keeper shelf–and my choice as a reader maybe even to be changed by it, and manifest that change by volunteering, or by voting, or by telling my husband that I love him more often–whatever.
    Your novels may not be “political” like Uncle Tom’s Cabin or The Jungle–but a novel, or a body of work–or a life well lived, or a job well done–proclaims who you are and what you believe in, and that also can change lives, and change the world.
    You’re not “just a romance writer”–you’re an important part of the cultural dialogue who has a lot to say to all of us.
    So Preach On, Pat and all you writing Wenchlings!
    Melinda

    Reply
  38. Hi Pat,
    Again I am chiming in late because your post and the comments made me Think! (One of the reasons why I love the Wenches’ books and why I love this blog.)
    You say “I’m just a romance writer. . .we are not preachers.” I’d like to take issue with this a little bit because I believe that we are ALL preachers–not in the sense that we preach in a church from a pulpit about particular religious dogma or political issues. We are all preachers in the sense that our lives and our work, whatever that happens to be, proclaims to the world what we value and what our priorities are.
    Your novels (damn good rollicking stories, BTW) may not deal with a Compelling Social Issue or tell us whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, but they do proclaim loud and clear the values you find important and compelling: for example, “love makes the world go around and loving our neighbors is the path to peace.”
    Here are some other values/themes one finds “preached” in romance novels, yours and others (some pointed out very articulately by the posters above): love can overcome misunderstanding; honor is worth something; there is meaning in life, and sometimes in death; good triumphs over evil, and sometimes even redeems evil; justice and stewardship are better than greed and stupidity; hope can overcome despair. And I’m sure there are many more.
    You communicate these values in your writing and then it is my privilege as a reader to respond–by throwing the book against the wall, or by putting it on the keeper shelf–and my choice as a reader maybe even to be changed by it, and manifest that change by volunteering, or by voting, or by telling my husband that I love him more often–whatever.
    Your novels may not be “political” like Uncle Tom’s Cabin or The Jungle–but a novel, or a body of work–or a life well lived, or a job well done–proclaims who you are and what you believe in, and that also can change lives, and change the world.
    You’re not “just a romance writer”–you’re an important part of the cultural dialogue who has a lot to say to all of us.
    So Preach On, Pat and all you writing Wenchlings!
    Melinda

    Reply
  39. Hi Pat,
    Again I am chiming in late because your post and the comments made me Think! (One of the reasons why I love the Wenches’ books and why I love this blog.)
    You say “I’m just a romance writer. . .we are not preachers.” I’d like to take issue with this a little bit because I believe that we are ALL preachers–not in the sense that we preach in a church from a pulpit about particular religious dogma or political issues. We are all preachers in the sense that our lives and our work, whatever that happens to be, proclaims to the world what we value and what our priorities are.
    Your novels (damn good rollicking stories, BTW) may not deal with a Compelling Social Issue or tell us whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, but they do proclaim loud and clear the values you find important and compelling: for example, “love makes the world go around and loving our neighbors is the path to peace.”
    Here are some other values/themes one finds “preached” in romance novels, yours and others (some pointed out very articulately by the posters above): love can overcome misunderstanding; honor is worth something; there is meaning in life, and sometimes in death; good triumphs over evil, and sometimes even redeems evil; justice and stewardship are better than greed and stupidity; hope can overcome despair. And I’m sure there are many more.
    You communicate these values in your writing and then it is my privilege as a reader to respond–by throwing the book against the wall, or by putting it on the keeper shelf–and my choice as a reader maybe even to be changed by it, and manifest that change by volunteering, or by voting, or by telling my husband that I love him more often–whatever.
    Your novels may not be “political” like Uncle Tom’s Cabin or The Jungle–but a novel, or a body of work–or a life well lived, or a job well done–proclaims who you are and what you believe in, and that also can change lives, and change the world.
    You’re not “just a romance writer”–you’re an important part of the cultural dialogue who has a lot to say to all of us.
    So Preach On, Pat and all you writing Wenchlings!
    Melinda

    Reply
  40. Hi Pat,
    Again I am chiming in late because your post and the comments made me Think! (One of the reasons why I love the Wenches’ books and why I love this blog.)
    You say “I’m just a romance writer. . .we are not preachers.” I’d like to take issue with this a little bit because I believe that we are ALL preachers–not in the sense that we preach in a church from a pulpit about particular religious dogma or political issues. We are all preachers in the sense that our lives and our work, whatever that happens to be, proclaims to the world what we value and what our priorities are.
    Your novels (damn good rollicking stories, BTW) may not deal with a Compelling Social Issue or tell us whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, but they do proclaim loud and clear the values you find important and compelling: for example, “love makes the world go around and loving our neighbors is the path to peace.”
    Here are some other values/themes one finds “preached” in romance novels, yours and others (some pointed out very articulately by the posters above): love can overcome misunderstanding; honor is worth something; there is meaning in life, and sometimes in death; good triumphs over evil, and sometimes even redeems evil; justice and stewardship are better than greed and stupidity; hope can overcome despair. And I’m sure there are many more.
    You communicate these values in your writing and then it is my privilege as a reader to respond–by throwing the book against the wall, or by putting it on the keeper shelf–and my choice as a reader maybe even to be changed by it, and manifest that change by volunteering, or by voting, or by telling my husband that I love him more often–whatever.
    Your novels may not be “political” like Uncle Tom’s Cabin or The Jungle–but a novel, or a body of work–or a life well lived, or a job well done–proclaims who you are and what you believe in, and that also can change lives, and change the world.
    You’re not “just a romance writer”–you’re an important part of the cultural dialogue who has a lot to say to all of us.
    So Preach On, Pat and all you writing Wenchlings!
    Melinda

    Reply
  41. “We are all preachers in the sense that our lives and our work, whatever that happens to be, proclaims to the world what we value and what our priorities are.”
    Oh, I say! Well said, Melinda, well said!

    Reply
  42. “We are all preachers in the sense that our lives and our work, whatever that happens to be, proclaims to the world what we value and what our priorities are.”
    Oh, I say! Well said, Melinda, well said!

    Reply
  43. “We are all preachers in the sense that our lives and our work, whatever that happens to be, proclaims to the world what we value and what our priorities are.”
    Oh, I say! Well said, Melinda, well said!

    Reply
  44. “We are all preachers in the sense that our lives and our work, whatever that happens to be, proclaims to the world what we value and what our priorities are.”
    Oh, I say! Well said, Melinda, well said!

    Reply
  45. Terrific article, Pat!
    Yep, everything has a political side. If your heroine washes her hair, several political points of contention arise: water rights, fluoridation, chlorination, phosphates, waste management, and health risks, among others. But who reads romance to get better insight into these issues?
    Not me. I just want the heroine to have clean hair so she can tempt the hunky hero’s, uh, vigorous libido.

    Reply
  46. Terrific article, Pat!
    Yep, everything has a political side. If your heroine washes her hair, several political points of contention arise: water rights, fluoridation, chlorination, phosphates, waste management, and health risks, among others. But who reads romance to get better insight into these issues?
    Not me. I just want the heroine to have clean hair so she can tempt the hunky hero’s, uh, vigorous libido.

    Reply
  47. Terrific article, Pat!
    Yep, everything has a political side. If your heroine washes her hair, several political points of contention arise: water rights, fluoridation, chlorination, phosphates, waste management, and health risks, among others. But who reads romance to get better insight into these issues?
    Not me. I just want the heroine to have clean hair so she can tempt the hunky hero’s, uh, vigorous libido.

    Reply
  48. Terrific article, Pat!
    Yep, everything has a political side. If your heroine washes her hair, several political points of contention arise: water rights, fluoridation, chlorination, phosphates, waste management, and health risks, among others. But who reads romance to get better insight into these issues?
    Not me. I just want the heroine to have clean hair so she can tempt the hunky hero’s, uh, vigorous libido.

    Reply
  49. As usual, I’m in awe of the erudite insight of our readers! I could write a whole new blog answering your comments, but we would have forgotten the discussion by then. “G”
    Nina, in general, I don’t write about “evil.” I write about flawed human beings, because even though I add fantasy elements, I’m writing romance. So I do have what seems to be a truly villainous villain, but we’re talking about a time of war and revolution. So I have to deal with his violence. More than that, I cannot tell you. “G”
    Merry, your insight into romance is amazing, as always!
    Camilla, I fully appreciate your awe of history. When I first started out, I fought the good fight and tried to add all that powerful political change stuff. But it simply doesn’t work in romance. We can only “see” it through the effects on our characters. Politics, no matter how powerful, is boring within the context of a romance that is based on individual and social interactions. In historical fiction, it’s another matter entirely. The tug and pull of change has to be reflected through character pov, but it has to be there in all its full court dramatic tension as well as on the smaller playing field.
    RevMel, what Sherrie said. I suppose I think of “preaching” as telling other people what to think, and I resist that. Helping them think, though, is clearly my pleasure!
    LOL, Jacquie. Now I have to find some way of putting my contemp’s heroine in touch with her inner environmentalist just to see if I can do it. And see if the hunky hero appreciates her concern for mankind. “G”

    Reply
  50. As usual, I’m in awe of the erudite insight of our readers! I could write a whole new blog answering your comments, but we would have forgotten the discussion by then. “G”
    Nina, in general, I don’t write about “evil.” I write about flawed human beings, because even though I add fantasy elements, I’m writing romance. So I do have what seems to be a truly villainous villain, but we’re talking about a time of war and revolution. So I have to deal with his violence. More than that, I cannot tell you. “G”
    Merry, your insight into romance is amazing, as always!
    Camilla, I fully appreciate your awe of history. When I first started out, I fought the good fight and tried to add all that powerful political change stuff. But it simply doesn’t work in romance. We can only “see” it through the effects on our characters. Politics, no matter how powerful, is boring within the context of a romance that is based on individual and social interactions. In historical fiction, it’s another matter entirely. The tug and pull of change has to be reflected through character pov, but it has to be there in all its full court dramatic tension as well as on the smaller playing field.
    RevMel, what Sherrie said. I suppose I think of “preaching” as telling other people what to think, and I resist that. Helping them think, though, is clearly my pleasure!
    LOL, Jacquie. Now I have to find some way of putting my contemp’s heroine in touch with her inner environmentalist just to see if I can do it. And see if the hunky hero appreciates her concern for mankind. “G”

    Reply
  51. As usual, I’m in awe of the erudite insight of our readers! I could write a whole new blog answering your comments, but we would have forgotten the discussion by then. “G”
    Nina, in general, I don’t write about “evil.” I write about flawed human beings, because even though I add fantasy elements, I’m writing romance. So I do have what seems to be a truly villainous villain, but we’re talking about a time of war and revolution. So I have to deal with his violence. More than that, I cannot tell you. “G”
    Merry, your insight into romance is amazing, as always!
    Camilla, I fully appreciate your awe of history. When I first started out, I fought the good fight and tried to add all that powerful political change stuff. But it simply doesn’t work in romance. We can only “see” it through the effects on our characters. Politics, no matter how powerful, is boring within the context of a romance that is based on individual and social interactions. In historical fiction, it’s another matter entirely. The tug and pull of change has to be reflected through character pov, but it has to be there in all its full court dramatic tension as well as on the smaller playing field.
    RevMel, what Sherrie said. I suppose I think of “preaching” as telling other people what to think, and I resist that. Helping them think, though, is clearly my pleasure!
    LOL, Jacquie. Now I have to find some way of putting my contemp’s heroine in touch with her inner environmentalist just to see if I can do it. And see if the hunky hero appreciates her concern for mankind. “G”

    Reply
  52. As usual, I’m in awe of the erudite insight of our readers! I could write a whole new blog answering your comments, but we would have forgotten the discussion by then. “G”
    Nina, in general, I don’t write about “evil.” I write about flawed human beings, because even though I add fantasy elements, I’m writing romance. So I do have what seems to be a truly villainous villain, but we’re talking about a time of war and revolution. So I have to deal with his violence. More than that, I cannot tell you. “G”
    Merry, your insight into romance is amazing, as always!
    Camilla, I fully appreciate your awe of history. When I first started out, I fought the good fight and tried to add all that powerful political change stuff. But it simply doesn’t work in romance. We can only “see” it through the effects on our characters. Politics, no matter how powerful, is boring within the context of a romance that is based on individual and social interactions. In historical fiction, it’s another matter entirely. The tug and pull of change has to be reflected through character pov, but it has to be there in all its full court dramatic tension as well as on the smaller playing field.
    RevMel, what Sherrie said. I suppose I think of “preaching” as telling other people what to think, and I resist that. Helping them think, though, is clearly my pleasure!
    LOL, Jacquie. Now I have to find some way of putting my contemp’s heroine in touch with her inner environmentalist just to see if I can do it. And see if the hunky hero appreciates her concern for mankind. “G”

    Reply
  53. I think that the best novelists interpret history when they write historical fiction. I consider romance writers to be novelists in the best sense of the word. I think that many of you have expressed the horror of war by showing the damage it does to the heroes after the battles both physically and mentally. The nightmares and thoughts of dead comrades is difficult to read and often is not there in other works about romantic heroes.

    Reply
  54. I think that the best novelists interpret history when they write historical fiction. I consider romance writers to be novelists in the best sense of the word. I think that many of you have expressed the horror of war by showing the damage it does to the heroes after the battles both physically and mentally. The nightmares and thoughts of dead comrades is difficult to read and often is not there in other works about romantic heroes.

    Reply
  55. I think that the best novelists interpret history when they write historical fiction. I consider romance writers to be novelists in the best sense of the word. I think that many of you have expressed the horror of war by showing the damage it does to the heroes after the battles both physically and mentally. The nightmares and thoughts of dead comrades is difficult to read and often is not there in other works about romantic heroes.

    Reply
  56. I think that the best novelists interpret history when they write historical fiction. I consider romance writers to be novelists in the best sense of the word. I think that many of you have expressed the horror of war by showing the damage it does to the heroes after the battles both physically and mentally. The nightmares and thoughts of dead comrades is difficult to read and often is not there in other works about romantic heroes.

    Reply

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