Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cale McCaskey Talks About the Problem with Romance

So I'm on twitter one day this week and I see a RT that looks interesting. I click over and find this post titled: THE PROBLEM WITH ROMANCE NOVELS.

First, I've been around far too long to be surprised by anything anyone says on the web anymore. Second, being that I've heard almost every slur against the romance genre there is I've become numb to much of it. Third, most of these opinions don't matter much anyway.

But I'm linking to it now because I want newer authors to see the kind of thing romance authors have been dealing with forever. I can even remember a teacher in high school trashing the romance genre while I was sitting there in class thinking, WTF?, this dude, this bald fat fuck, is wearing mismatched socks, a pilled sweater vest, gum-soled shoes, and he drives a goddamn Rambler...which at the time was twenty years old.

Before I link to the post, I thought I share this from the post, verbatim:

Because romance novels do sell so abundantly in our day, I've noticed more and more articles about, and interviews with, romance writers where they are as often as not put on a pedestal—as though they somehow belong in the same class as authors of much higher standing.

All I can say is I've been writing romance for many years. I've had more books published than I can count. Some have sold more than others and I'm never quite certain what will resonate with readers. I just write with the intention of pleasing my readers, not with the intention of being put on a pedestal or being classified anywhere by anyone. And, not everything I've had published has been a romance. A good deal of my gay fiction is considered "gay lit," especially my older works. Some books and stories were in different genres and I've used pen names more than once. I've even been in "gay lit" anthologies that have won literary awards. So does this mean my pen names are in different classes than my real name, Ryan Field, that I use to write romance? And does this mean that my pen names should be in a "much higher standing" than my real name? As a writer, not an author, I'm not even certain those questions make sense.

Of course this is a personal opinion and Mr. McCaskey has a right to voice his opinion in any way he sees fit. I didn't comment on his blog because I do respect his opinion and I didn't want to intrude. The odds are I'll never go back to his blog again after this post.

He also says this:

I think it's safe to say that no Ivy League school will ever teach out of romance novels as part of the curriculum.

This may or may not be true. I do remember I took a course on contemporary fiction in college, here, that covered romance novels. It's not an ivy league school but it is a well respected university with a campus in Wroxton, England. And now, as a graduate of this school, I'm writing in the romance genre. All this aside, my first thought was how Mr. McCaskey knows so much about Ivy League schools. I can't help but wonder which Ivy League school he attended. I tried to find it in his profile but didn't see anything other than this:

I'm a sexy, single, white male with a really big, uh, wallet. (It's where I keep all my I.O.U.s). I also write a bit.

It's an interesting description.

Here's the link.

And if you have time, check this out. It's a real gem. I don't know where Mr. McCaskey is getting his information about romance novels, but I've always been told the one place where romance authors tend not to go is adultery and infidelity. In fact, I've seen comment threads explode on the issue and I rarely go there myself because I'm not a huge fan of adultery or infidelity. If I want to read about adultery and infidelity I'll read Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom," where there's plenty of it going on.

4 comments:

Barb said...

I jumped over to the blog post by 'you know who'. I wasn't sure whether to laugh, cry, or just vomit in disgust. Talk about someone with a superior attitude! He seems awfully concerned with everyone else's need to be reading literature that educates instead of just entertaining. I can't help wondering just what he considers "fun".

ryan field said...

I agree with you!!

Yahoobuckaroo's Blog said...

I looked at the blog post in question and thought Mr. McCaskey was right on the money. He said it so well in fact that I would have a hard time adding to it. Not only is romance the bottom of the barrel genre-wise, it does nothing but make it difficult to find any REAL authors amongst all the drudge. And he had a good point about GOOD stories with a hint of romance in them being listed in better genres to begin with. There's simply nothing there to disagree with.

ryan field said...

Blah, blah, blah...