Romance novelist Katy Ames ’02 sheds some light on the genre where good always wins. Katy is the author of two contemporary romance novels with more on the way. She is also the creator of #chooseyourownromance on Instagram, which is not to be missed!
Maya Rodale, best-selling romance author and NYU grad, writes this in the preface of her book Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels Explained: “When my mother first insisted that I read romance novels, I laughed. She couldn’t seriously be suggesting that I, a college student at a prestigious East Coast university majoring in English, who read Ulysses for school and all of Proust for fun, would read one of those cheap drugstore books, the Fabio books, the fluffy reading material for uneducated and overweight desperate housewives of the flyover states.” This from a woman who has a very successful career writing them (and has changed her opinion about them since).
Stigma or not, there is an escape to be found in the safety of the romance genre. Author Damon Suede explains, “romance is the literature of hope.” Awful things happen to good people. There is drama, backstabbing, loss, betrayal, elation, triumph, regret, and – yes – sex. And the reader is along for the ride, enjoying the highs, despairing at the lows, all the while comfortable knowing that the story will end happily. That the hero and heroine will overcome their differences, that love trumps hate. And that the hope we, the reader, instill in these fictional characters at the beginning of their story will be returned to us ten-fold by the proof on the page that great things come to those who persevere.
That hope came in handy for me during the stress of last year’s election cycle, and what’s happened since. My consumption rate of romance has skyrocketed over the past year and while I love the wide variety available, one thing I don’t love is the lack of heroines I find relatable. I can enjoy the escapist story of recent-college-grad-meets-supe
That is why I decided to write romance. Now, at this particular moment in time, I want to craft stories about strong women who are as free to enjoy their lives – and sex – as much as any man. Not only that, they are appreciated for it. Respected for it. Loved for it. I might not achieve that goal perfectly each time, but I hope to do so with increasing grace and authenticity with each subsequent book.
A few weeks ago I joined a huge audience at the first romance author event at Politics and Prose, one of D.C.’s oldest and highly-respected bookstores, and the authors were asked why they write romance. Sarah MacLean, NYT best-selling author and fellow Smithie, responded that it is the one genre in which, almost exclusively, women get to have the adventure. They don’t die, aren’t pushed aside, tarted up, or told to be quiet. Romance is a world in which women get to read stories about women, written by women. And in it, we get to do whatever we want – or whomever we want – without judgement. (So there, #45.)