Romance authors Eloisa James and Julia Quinn were among those interviewed for an article in USA Today entitled Scholarly Writers Empower the Romance Genre. Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan of the blog Smart Bitches Trashy Books were also quoted.
While I’m delighted to see romance novels finally receiving positive recognition in the media, I fear there’s a danger we’re going to the opposite extreme by focusing exclusively on smart (read: highly educated) authors and readers. With the exception of the interview with Nora Roberts in The New Yorker, all the recent articles I’ve read on the topic have stressed the education and intelligence of the romance authors and readers profiled.
In the USA Today article, much is made of Mary Bly/Eloisa James’s academic credentials and her struggle for acceptance as a romance novelist in a scholarly environment. The piece even mentions Julia Quinn and Sarah Wendell’s respective husbands’ education, although how this is relevant is beyond me (no offense to either gentleman, but the article is about their wives).
I don’t know why people who read romance are traditionally considered less educated than readers of other genres. Statistics say otherwise. Romance novels appeal to a wide demographic, encompassing women (and men) from a variety of backgrounds. It is wonderful that the stereotypes which surround the romance genre are being challenged, but I think authors and readers can justify their preferred genre without resorting to the same élitism they’ve been a victim of for decades.
Edited to Add:
I just saw that Jane from Dear Author has touched on this topic in her Daily Links Round Up
Katiebabs has a post up on ‘I Am a Scholar, So I Can Write Romance (And Not Be Ridiculed)’
Jessica of Racy Romance Reviews has written her thoughts on the Nora Roberts profile in The New Yorker