I had the privilege and pleasure of an interview on The Brian Shepard Show on Tuesday, June 16. The session was scheduled to begin at 8:15 PM, so I logged in early to make sure that everything downloaded and operated properly. By 8:05 PM, I was “backstage” and waiting. Brian decided to begin the interview early.
It was planned to last 30 minutes. It lasted an hour and 20 minutes. When he finally closed the interview, we continued chatting for another hour. What a wonderful conversation we had!
I initially contacted Brian, whose assistant then responded with a message stating that he’d like to interview me and discuss The Barbary Lion. I replied that I’d hoped to discuss my two latest releases, Hogtied and Focus. “Of course, new releases take priority,” came the reply. We set the date.
In our discussion, Brian asked whether I’d begun doing anything during the COVID-19 lockdown that I hadn’t done before. I almost felt bad to disappoint him with a negative answer. My life really didn’t change much at all; changes consisted more of not doing what I’d done before.
Brian shared that he’d begun reading romance novels, particularly paranormal romance. It was my June Book-of-the-Month, Tiger in the Snow, that caught his interest. He’d recently become fascinated with stories featuring vampires, shape shifters, and the like. I supplied the correct terminology: paranormal romance. That’s often confused with fantasy romance.
Granted, the lines between fantasy and paranormal romance overlap. Then we get into urban fantasy and alien romance which further blurs the lines. Maybe there aren’t any lines, just differences of terminology.
We talked about the genre in general and books that contain explicit content. Brian asked how I felt about including explicit scenes in romantic fiction. I responded that I was not averse to it–in fact, most of my books have explicit sex scenes in them–however, I try not to be gratuitous about the inclusion. If the story (or the characters) doesn’t call for that kind of content, then I don’t put it in. We also discussed what made for realistic sex scenes and what didn’t, which led to some awkward phrasing in an effort to keep the show family-friendly.
So, we talked about my books and the genre, at which point I observed that a lot of people immediately associate the romance genre with pornography. That annoys me to no end. Enduring snobbery dismisses romance as literature not worth reading. It’s “trash.”
He let me harp on that for a bit, then we veered off to another topic.
The reason I bring that up is because, the next night, Brian interviewed a comedian. When Brian shared that he’d been reading romance, the comedian validated my assertion that romance gets no respect. The man instantly associated the genre with erotica: if it’s romance, then it must be nothing but sex scenes.
Once again, I felt compelled to chime in, although that time via the comments: “Romance focuses on the relationship which may be spiced with sex. Erotica focuses on the sex with a little bit of story. It’s a matter of degree.“ I wanted to post links to my western romances which contain nothing more explicit than a kiss, but decided that would have been in poor taste.
If you’ve read romance and don’t care for it, I understand. That’s okay. I’ve read BDSM romances and, frankly, don’t care for them because I don’t find humiliation, degradation, and abuse sexy. I go back to the sub-genre every so often to try again, to see if, perhaps, I’ve simply read the wrong authors or the wrong stories in that genre. Thus far, my distaste remains intact.
However, if you’ve never read romance, then don’t dismiss it as deplorable or unworthy. Sure, there’s a hell of a lot of garbage out there. But there’s a lot of really good stuff, too, literature that’s well written and engaging, literature that includes tidbits of information that informs or educates (yes, rabbits really do spit), and that satisfies our craving for a happily ever after.
I write romance and, no, I’m not ashamed of that.