Thursday, 21 August 2014

To all the Books I've Loved Before

Sasky Stewart dishes the dirt on her love for romance novels and her burning desire to pen her own . . .

What: Seminar: Breaking into Romance
When: 24 August 1PM
Where: Workshop Space, Wheeler Centre

Someone once suggested that a “romance novel was to literature what hot-dogs are to cuisine - quickly made, tasty, temporarily satisfying but with little to no nutritional value.”

Luckily, I really like hot-dogs (and romance novels).

In 2012, more than 9 thousand romance novels were released, accounting for $1.44 billion in sales (that’s more than 3x the amount of sales generated by classic literary fiction) and comprising nearly 20% of the US Book market. In a struggling market, romance has made the transition from print to digital seamlessly.

I fell in love with romance novels somewhere in the midst of my law degree. I was barely out of my teens and sick of poring my way through 400+ pages a week of unfailingly dry academic reading. My teenage years had been spent overachieving with novels (I read Nelson Mandela’s 700+ page Long Walk to Freedom the summer before I started high school) and midway through law-school I realised I’d lost all passion for the sometimes over-wrought novels I’d been reading out of a sense of smug superiority.

I was madly in love with ice hockey at the time (and still am) and one day, by accident, stumbled across Body Check by Deirdre Martin in my local Borders. To this day I still don’t know how I even ended up in that section, but the cover with its bright red stilettoed foot and hockey stick suckered me in. Half a dozen years later, romance novels make up the bulk of my reading and are my go-to genre when I’m in need of a pick me up.

Since finding that first novel, I’ve read every one of the 12 books in Martin’s New York Blades series (and several more than once). I’ve devoured every hockey romance novel around, a fair chunk of the baseball, NFL and soccer ones and even the occasional girl-becomes-a-princess edition (we all have guilty pleasures).  Whilst I don’t favour the bodice rippers of yesteryear or the long haired lothario’s of Mills and Boon past I am partial to tales of strong, smart, savvy women and the hunky, charming athletes they fall in love with.

What is it though that keeps me coming back to romance novels, first as a reader and now as an aspiring author?

Maybe it’s the escapism on offer between the pages, the way the novel allows us to dream of a more beautiful and exciting world. Maybe it’s the reprieve romance offers offer from the pressure of trying to have it all as a modern women - balancing relationships, jobs and a home life.

Or maybe, it’s as simple as wanting to know that in the end, everyone finds happiness, that the fairy-tale ending of happily ever after is true, even if only in our and the author’s imaginations.

That’s a place I’m happy to end up.

1 comment:

  1. I've all blushed up after reading this review. Let's just leave it there ;-) Fab review Sasky!


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