Book ‘em
by Sharon Ashwood on March 24th, 2010

First of all, congratulations to Doreen R, who was the winner of a copy of SCORCHED, last week’s prize for commenting! Check out Jessa’s Monday post for her fabulous hot-off-the-press (and hot on the cover!) giveaway.

This week’s topic is “what one question would we want to ask readers.” I pondered this at some length. I have a lot of questions (about everything), but none seemed particularly bloggable. And then I landed on this head-scratcher:

One of the truisms of the romance writing community is “don’t write romance if you aren’t a fan of the genre, because Readers Will Know.”

The statement brings to mind a small, cramped room with a metal chair and an overhead spotlight. The room is hot, and the captive author is handcuffed to a table, which is in turn bolted to the floor. There’s a one-way mirror. A disembodied voice booms through a hidden speaker: “Are you, or have you ever been in possession of a book with an unhappy ending?”

And the only way the poor author can escape is by naming Nora Robert’s backlist in chronological order.

interrogation-chair

Yes, I’m a strange person.

Paranoid fantasies aside, it’s an interesting issue. I can’t imagine writing ANY genre unless you absolutely loved, loved, loved it. Writing a book is A LOT OF WORK. Writing one means living in that milieu 24/7 for a long, long time. If I went in with anything less than a burning passion to create my romance, I’d never make it past chapter three.

In other words, I think the effort involved would be a fairly effective gatekeeper against folks who really weren’t romance fans. The next barrier would be the fact that writing romance (or anything, for that matter) sucks as a get-rich-quick scheme. However, if the warning against masquerading as a romantic is to be believed, imposters do slip through the cracks.

Okay, readers, here’s my burning question: when you pick up a book that has been sold as a romance, how do you know if the author didn’t actually like what they were writing? In your opinion, what would be the telltale signs?

5 comments to “Book ‘em”

  1. 1

    They rush through the good parts. :-)


  2. 2

    He (the author) effing kills the hero! I HATE that!!!


  3. 3

    I think that when a writer is bored or didn’t like the work, it comes through in the books “voice” and I quickly become uninterested too. With those types of books I tend to skip to the end and then never go back. I’ll likely not read that author again, which is probably a shame, because one bad book does not a bad author make, right? Unfortunately, there are so many great stories out there, sometimes you only get one kick at the cat. (What a terrible saying!)


  4. 4

    I hear you on killing the hero, Jessa! Talk about a cheat. I love the Pendergast novels but Cemetery Dance starts with the demise of a major protagonist–one we’ve been with for a lot of books. They’re going to have to do a fabulous job with this story to win me back after that.


  5. 5

    YES, writing is a lot of work! It really is a labor of love. And like you, I find it impossible to write something that I’m not completely in love with. I have to be really engaged in my subject and their world.


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