In July 2013, I attended my first Romance Writers of America conference in Atlanta Georgia, where I happen to live. I enjoyed every minute of it, but for months afterward, I had no idea my experience had been recorded for posterity.
Love Between the Covers
Apparently, a documentary film about the romance novel industry was being recorded during the conference. Several months later an author friend of mine, acclaimed erotic romance author Annabel Joseph, lent me a copy of the movie to watch. Imagine my surprise when I came up on screen, in a shot of the audience at a seminar. Another author friend, Lainie S. Flin, was beside me in the front row, and we were laughing at something the speaker had said. We were both onscreen in the film for about fifteen seconds.
I am honored to be a part of this film, albeit inadvertently. If you haven’t seen Love Between the Covers, it is worth your time. The romance genre is one of the most profitable, and also one of the most maligned genres in the publishing industry. The film takes an inside look at business of romance, through the eyes of its’ authors, such as Eloisa James and Beverly Jenkins, to name a few. On the website, you can view a trailer or film clips and find out how to attend a screening.
I had forgotten about the film until I came across an article about it in Rewire, an online magazine. Written by Eleanor J. Bader, the article makes the point that romance novels often imagine a “world in which women can win.” This is also a theme that comes through in the film, which I found to be inspirational in the way it portrayed the writers and the fans of romance novels.
No Defense Required
The only thing that bothers me is this: more often than not, articles, films or shows about the romance novel industry often have a subtext of defensiveness. As though a case must be made for the value of romance novels. Some are not so subtle and tackle the critics of romance directly, but whether the subject is defending or refusing to defend the industry, it shouldn’t be necessary.
You may have heard the criticisms before— that romance novels are trash, formulaic, or something worse, such as the label of “mommy porn”. Well, I’ve been reading romance novels most of my life, but I have also read books in many other genres. So I have a well-rounded sampling of literature from which to draw my opinion, and I say the romance genre doesn’t need to be defended.
To me, books are similar to music. There are genres of music I don’t particularly care for, but I can still find the occasional song in that genre that I really like. All music has value to someone, just as books in all genres have value. I do not understand the judgmental attitude towards an entire genre of stories. If you don’t like it, don’t read it, but respect the choice of others who may enjoy it.
To Infinity, and Beyond
Believe it or not, there is room in the universe for an infinite number of songs and an infinite number of books!
And an infinite number of films, but they will probably not feature yours truly…
So check out Love Between the Covers if you get a chance. It’s worth your time if you have any interest in the business of romance novels. And don’t forget to look for a couple of laughing ladies at about the three-quarter mark!