MS. REBECCA SHEIR
We'll race back to the modern day now and wrap up our communication show with Bookend…
MS. REBECCA SHEIR
…our monthly conversation with D.C. writers. And today we'll check out a type of literature that's something of a juggernaut in the publishing industry these days, as it scoops up a great share of the consumer market than any other genre. It's the romance novel. And on this episode of Bookend, Jonathan Wilson sat down with romance writers from the D.C. area. Rebecca York, author of more than 100 romance novels and Amanda Brice, a young author who writes romances for the teenager set.
MR. JONATHAN WILSON
So Amanda, let me start with you. Now that you see yourself as a romance writer, how do you wear that label? Do you like that label? Do you kind of bristle at the stereotypes around that label? What do you think?
MS. AMANDA BRICE
I live the label. I don't actually write romance, per se. The books I write are for teenagers, and obviously, what's important to teenage girls? A lot of them like teenage boys. So there's always going to be a very strong romance element in my books, but my books focus more on the mystery and the suspense. But I love reading romance novels, and I own that label. I don't particularly like a lot of the stereotypes that we hear of the heaving bosoms and all the stuff that you…
MS. REBECCA YORK
Bodice rippers, yes. All the things that you hear in the media about stereotypes about romance. But there were books like that. But the romance genre has come a long way in the past 30 years or so, and it really is one of the most popular genres in America today.
Rebecca, yeah, so you mentioned bodice rippers, a term everybody knows. When somebody throws that term out to you what do you think of? Do you think that's what I write? Do you think they don't know what they're talking about? How do you deal with the stereotypes around the romance genre?
I think they don't know what they're talking about. The reason I write romance is that I like happy endings. The idea, you know, it's not literature unless is ends badly. And I really don't like that. There's enough misery and bad things happening in the world. And I have the power to write these books where I invent characters who I really like and it gets to come out the way they want it to come out and I get to make it happen.
Obviously, there's been tons of attention, whether you guys like it or not, there's been tons of attention on one book, "Fifty Shades of Grey," right? I'm sure you guys get this question or talk about this all the time. Is there, you know, I think this happens with any genre that grows. Within every genre there are sub-genres. So in romance there's erotica, there's Christian romance, there's teen romance. What is that like to deal with? I mean, do you like being grouped with all these different things? Do you make distinctions between these different types of books? Has the popularity of that book or the attention that that book has gotten, has it been good for what you guys do?
Romance as a genre is a big enough tent that it can include the various different elements and I think that's great because it allows people to be able to read the genre and find the type of book that they really like. As for the "Fifty Shades of Grey" stuff, I don't really write the more racy stuff, so, I mean, like I said, I write for teenagers. So it's been really great for a lot of other authors.
People will say, I really don't like romance or I don't respect romance or I don't read it at all. So how do they know? Weirdly, I think that the "Fifty Shades of Grey" phenomenon introduced women to romance who would never have read it. And that means that they may then go on to read my books and that would be great.
Do you think that there are still people reading romance out there who don't tell other people that they read romance because they, you know, are afraid of, like, those stereotypes that we've talked about? Do you think those make up a lot of the readership that you guys have, the steady readership? Because there are people out there who maybe, you know, they won't tell anybody, but they're buying these books.
Well, I used to commute to work on the Metro. And I used to see a lot of people with their book and it was always the big book that was Oprah would talk about. So I called it the book that people would buy simply because they wanted to be seen on the Metro reading it. Now, with e-readers, you got your Kindle, you got your iPad, you got your cell phone and you're sitting there reading a book and nobody knows what you're reading. So I really think that there are probably a lot of people reading romance on their commute to work, where they might not have always done that in the past.
I, for one, always, proudly had my paperback. So I'm like loud and proud, I don't care what you think, but I think a lot of people now are in the closet reading it. I hate to say that because I don't think it's something that you should be ashamed of, but there really are people who do that.
You know, in ages past, there was less of a dichotomy between good literature and fun reads. Sort of in the 20th century, I think, it split apart, so that you had serious fiction and genre fiction. You know, there is some romance that's fluff, but I think that you would be shocked at the depth of what you find in a lot of romance novels.
Rebecca York and Amanda Brice, thank you. And we'll talk to you again.
Amanda Brice is also the incoming president of Washington Romance Writers, a group that has just kicked off an online book club called Washington Loves Romance. You can find more information on our website metroconnection.org.
And that's "Metro Connection" for this week. We heard from WAMU's Sabri Ben-Achour, Jacob Fenston, Emily Berman and Jonathan Wilson, along with reporters Raphaella Bennin and Heather Taylor. WAMU's managing editor of news is Memo Lyons. Metro Connection's managing producer is Tara Boyle. Lauren Landau is our editorial assistant. Thanks, as always, to the WAMU engineering and digital media teams for their help with production and the "Metro Connection" website.
Our theme song, "Every Little Bit Hurts" and our Door-to-Door theme, "No Girl" are from the album Title Tracks by John Davis and used with permission of the Ernest Jennings Record Company. You can see all the music we use on our website, that's metroconnection.org. Just click on a story and you'll find information about its accompanying song. Also on metroconnection.org you can find our Twitter and Facebook links. You can read free transcripts of stories. And if you missed part of today's show you can hear the whole thing by clicking the This Week On Metro Connection link.
To hear our most recent episodes, click the podcast link or find us on iTunes. We hope you can join us next week when we'll bring you a show about parenting. We'll hear from Washingtonians who are single moms by choice. We'll learn why a growing number of couples are going overseas to find surrogates to carry their babies. And we'll meet a family gearing up to sail around the world.
I don't want to leave my friends, but I also want to go on all these adventures.
I'm Rebecca Sheir and thanks for listening to "Metro Connection," a production of WAMU 88.5 News.
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