What a loaded question that happened to be on the Internet today. A blog post was contributed by Jane Litte, the founder of Dear Author entitled, “We Should Let the Historical Romance Genre Die.” A flash flood of comments were posted either agreeing or rebutting the idea. The article was re-posted on one of my favorite sites, The Passive Voice, which generated many comments as well. It was a hot topic between readers and writers whether our Mr. Darcy-type characters are doomed to fade away into the distant past.
I commented on The Passive Voice that I don’t think the genre will ever really die, though the interest may wane because of the current trends in the marketplace. The vampire rage has paled, being replaced by the kinky millionaires and sex slaves in the bedchamber. Perhaps one day readers will want to return to the good old days for a bit of swashbuckling romance. I think new generations who fall in love with Austen’s work will want to read Regency-era stories. Of course, that genre is a bit cleaner than the 21st century, unless we start tying up and spanking Mr. Darcy for pleasure.
Frankly, authors need to make their stories more interesting, reach out to those readers who want that type of novel. Keeping a genre alive is a responsibility of not only a reader, but the author as well, who should have the incentive and imagination to bring a new flavor. If the target audience is getting bored, there must be reason behind it. Perhaps authors are just churning out too many cookie-cutter stories with not enough emotional impact to keep readers interested.
I had an after thought, too, that historical romance is no easy gig for any author. It’s one thing to write contemporary romance, sprinkled with a bit of research. It’s entirely another daunting job to jump into a historical era and learn all about the speech, customs, dress, beliefs, and attitudes of the day. Without research, historical romance is bland and just a story. You can also get crucified in reviews from staunch protectors of the faith if you dare to vary from the historical norm. I don’t mind research, because I want to develop my characters in their true surrounding. After all, some of the research is interesting! I always thought French letters were just that — letters. Little did I know…
Well, I assume that in a few days another controversial post will pop up somewhere in blog land. In the meantime, what do you think? Is the historical romance genre dying a slow death? If so, what can we do to spice things up a bit, without making it raunchy in content?
I’ll leave with you another wonderful photo of a period dress to ponder upon while you’re thinking of your answer. I think women must have felt so feminine and beautiful. Believe me, my jeans and sneakers just don’t do the trick.
― Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility
|Purple wool, velvet and lace two-piece Worth dress, c. 1890|