One of my friends has strong opinions about genre and gender. That’s fine. We all are entitled to our own particular taste in fiction. We can have friendly debates about the best genre or the best book in a genre. As long as it’s all in good fun, no harm comes to anyone. But best to remember that taste is individual,
For example, I was introduced to one of my very favorite books in my book club in Memphis: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. It moved too slow for a lot of my friends, but the character development is top-notch and the language is so lush you could slide into it and never find your way out again. Since reading it I’ve recommended it to everyone and as far as I know no one else has picked it up. And yet it was a best-seller. I don’t know anyone else who loved it as much as I did, but clearly there are hordes of people like me. Maybe you’re one of them. Give it a try.
Back to my friend and his strong opinions. He believes that women and men write differently and that they read differently. To prove his point he made a bunch of statements about a genre he knows quite well, epic fantasy, and a bunch of statements about a genre that I don’t think he has ever actually read a professionally published book in: romance fiction.
There is a cartoon vision of romance fiction believed by people who have never read modern romance fiction: Passive Heroine in a Love Triangle. It looks like this: A female protagonist is trying to decide between two male suitors who are rivals for her affection. They take all sorts of actions that finally prove to her that one of them is desirable and the other isn’t. She ends up with the desirable one. Agency is located within the male characters performing for her attention. It’s basically the musical comedy version of romance. Think Oklahoma.
I’m not going to say that this never happens in romance fiction. It’s a very broad field and just about everything that can happen, happens in romance. But that lack of agency isn’t common in romances written in the last 30 years. Romance heroines are not shrinking violets just waiting for the protagonist to come and show off his muscles. They’re strong characters in their own right.
In most good romance fiction, both characters have a journey, a wound, and their own strengths. They are both protagonists. Neither of them is a prize to the victor of a competition. Or if they are, it’s the start of the story, the opening problem for the protagonist, not the end of the story.
I’ve taken time to pound this point because he made a big deal of the idea that women’s fiction lacks agency and used it to prove his case that women prefer passivity in life and in fiction.
Genre isn’t destiny. Nor is gender.
If you think you don’t like a literary genre or a style of art, spend some time with it. Read the best it has to offer. Get to know it a bit better. Maybe you’ll find that just like Ado Annie, you can’t say no.
Or maybe you won’t like it. But at least you’ll have deeper knowledge and knowledge is sweet.
Latest Publishing News
So much has been going on lately for us in writing publishing and there’s more coming in the next few months. Here’s the latest publishing news.
We published our game supplement Amelia’s Friends in August. It’s gone on to be a Silver Bestseller.
Steve’s “Santa Fe” Call of Cthulhu game setting was published in Hometown Horrors.
Our amazing book on GURPS Vehicles: War Galleys has been published by Steve Jackson Games and is now available for purchase. This is not just good for those playing GURPS, but is also a fantastic source of information on biremes, triremes, galleys, and other oared vessels. Unlike many similar books, it also includes information on significant Asian oared ships.
Our story “The Most Dangerous (Board) Game” will be published in the inaugural edition of the Fanatical Magazine on November 28th.
My favorite time travel story, “Double Exposure,” was published in Particular Passages 4: South Wing.
My two short Hanukkah stories were published in paperback anthologies:
“Stolen Kisses” in Mistletoe Moments
And “Maccabees” in Cold-Blooded Christmas
If you’ve read down this far, thanks! I am going to tell you about one more project a friend of mine is doing that’s worth your attention. Tears of Tetricala is interactive fiction by Konrad Bennett Hughes featuring a sweeping, detailed city and great characters.
Mysterious assassins, conflicted relationships, and a massive city to explore fill the world of Tears of Tetricala, a new Interactive Fiction RPG brought to you by Kaptain Viciorious Grimoire.
During the Pandeorum Gathering on the island city of Isulstad, you play as a young noble looking for adventure, love, and so much more.
Visit Tetricala and give it a try. It’s free for now.
Be well, friends!