View Full Version : Romance and the Media

Cathy C
02-11-2006, 02:30 AM
Before I go off-line, I wanted to post up a terrific article written by one of my RWA chaptermates, Monica Burns, who writes romance and erotica for several epubs. Even those who aren't yet published can benefit by the discussion, because every so often "well-meaning" friends and family have very negative views of writing romance. You can use some of these terrific interview turn-arounds to dispel the myths. As always, those interested in buying any of Monica's books can use the links below the article.

Enjoy! :)

Romance and the Media
Monica Burns

For anyone who might get called for an interview from the news media here's something you can do WAY before you get the call from them.

Always have several bullet points that you want to emphasize in an interview. You don't really need to know the questions people are going to ask you, it's the message you want to get across that you focus on. You can turn any question into a positive by turning it around. The first important thing about a bullet point is that it's a short and sweet statement. Secondly, you need to have them not just memorized, but you need to memorize them so that they're second nature to you. So that you can speak and expand on each point at the drop of the hat. PREPARATION is the key to surviving a media interview of any kind. http://www.rwaonlinechapter.org/Boards/style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif

The platform you choose should be your personal platform. You can incorporate RWA's viewpoints, the viewpoints of other romance writers, but ultimately the points you make should be personal because the more you reflect your personal belief in your genre, writing or art form, the more powerful the message and the easier to share that message.

Below are points that I personally use - the parens means these are secondary points to the main point that I use as possible examples or thoughts when discussing each bullet point.

Bullet Points

Erotic romance is about character development
Sex is a natural part of a romantic relationship.
(It plays into the character development, which is integral to any romance.)
Romance books are literature.
(It's an art form. We hang nudes by Titian, Bougereau and other great artists in museums. They celebrate the human body, why shouldn't we do the same in romantic literature.)
Women like sex.
(We always have, we just have a different viewpoint than men. We like sex to be romantic.)
Romance can improve relationships
(Men who read romance books generally have a wonderful relationship with their significant other because they pick up on the repetitive themes in the book, and they act upon them to improve their relationship.)
Fifty percent of the fictional market is comprised of romantic fiction.
(Romance is a fantasy in many cases. It's about that initial meeting and the chemistry involved with the couple and how their relationship develops. Readers don't want the day-in-day-out drudgery. They get enough of that in their own lives. )
People like to be entertained.
(Lots of men love watching James Bond and the gorgeous women he sleeps with. Why? Because the men are living a fantasy. Romance is a different type of fantasy. It's about the subjective nature of things--what appeals to individuals.)
Trashy romance books is a misnomer.
(Writing a romance is no different than writing a Harry Potter book, a Stephen King novel, or a Hemingway piece of work. Fifty percent of the fictional market says a lot about romance books NOT being trashy.)

Here's a Possible Interview Scenario (Not all journalists are this agressive, but worst case scenario is best to learn from)

Interviewer - How do you react when someone refers to your books as trashy romance?

Writer - Trashy romance is a misnomer when it comes to romantic fiction. For a romance book to get published it has to meet the same literary requirements that writers such as J.K. Rowling, Stephen Hawkins, Stephen King, Meg Cabot, Hemingway, Shakespeare all met. You have to tell a good story while developing characters that a reader can love and identify with. You have to entertain. However you do that is artistic license.

Interviewer - But you're an erotic romance writer. Doesn't that really mean you write pornography?

Writer - Actually no. Erotic romance is simply an expansion of the relationship between two people. Sex is a natural part of a relationship between two people who care about one another. The world has a large population of people who weren't test tube babies. I'd say sex is primary reason the rest of us are here. *grin*

Interviewer - (they won't let up sometimes) But why is it necessary to be so graphic in your sex scenes?

Writer - You know, women like sex to be romantic. We're pretty cerebral creatures, and when I write my scenes, they're not just about the love or development of love between two individuals. The sex scenes are about how romantic sex can be. If I didn't include sex it would mean I'm not showing the complete development of my characters. I'm comfortable writing romantic sex in my books, and there are a lot of women who crave reading romantic sex.

Truthfully if the significant others of those women readers were to pick up a romance book, whether one of mine or another writer of sensual romance, they'd understand their woman a lot better and they might even be able to eliminate the "Honey, I have a headache" syndrome. *grin*

Women want romance in their lives, and in my books and that of a great many other romance writers, we give them what they want. Why else is 50% of the fiction book market all romance?

Interviewer - I guess it's pretty easy to write these sex scenes, right?

Writer - Oh no! Writing a sex scene that's romantic and satisfying both from the characters perspective and the readers perspective is the hardest part of the book for me to write. Here's a challenge. *smile* You're a writer, or you wouldn't be interviewing me. If you'll sit down and write a love scene, I'll critique it for you.

Just make sure it's fresh, inventive, doesn't tell the entire scene, in other words, make me live it, and make sure you don't repeat yourself with the 10-15 words you have when it comes to describing body parts, actions, etc. Oh, and make sure you include all the five senses and you can't use the pyramid style of writing either. *grin*


Monica Burns
The Art of Pleasure, New Concepts Publishing, 9/05
Love's Revenge, (Romantic Times 4 Stars!) New Concepts Publishing
Forbidden Pleasures (featuring Love's Revenge, a 2006 EPPIE finalist), New Concepts Publishing, 2/06

02-11-2006, 05:54 AM
Great article! Thanks for sharing that, Cathy. *whispers* My husband reads the romance books I leave lying around and after reading them, it's surprising how quickly my "manly man" hubby turns into a sweet, intuitive romantic. Me thinks I should leave one in every room in the house. ;)

Also, I wish I'd seen this article about 2 years ago. I told a friend of mine that I was writing my first romance novel and his only response was, "Ah, trying your hand at smut, huh?" Grrr. Anyone got a spare cluestick for me?

02-11-2006, 07:21 AM
This is awesome, Cathy -- many thanks.

Actually, my mother just experienced something like this. She was bragging about her daughter's novel getting published in January to a couple she'd just met (God bless my mom), and when she laughingly said it's a "bit raunchy" and that there are strippers and sex scenes, the woman in the couple asked her if I would be using my real name...because my God, what would the community think? What would my rabbi think? And our neighbors? And...get this, what would our children's friends' parents think? Wouldn't our children be ostracized?


So I sat down with my mom and clued her in on how to better read her audience. If someone gets all "eew" about there being sex in the novel, I told her to simply laugh and say, "It's a romance." And if they push on the sex thing, say, "It's a romance. You know, romance makes up most of the fiction market." Then I told my mom that all those romance novels you hear about matronly aunts reading? They're reading them for the sex scenes. She didn't believe me...at first. :)

As for the "what about the children" question: the answer is, My writing is rated R, and my children will not be allowed to read my novels until they are old enough to go to a rated R movie by themselves.

02-11-2006, 08:36 AM
The thing that drives me nuts is that there are suspense, mystery or whatever out there written by men with sex scenes in them and no one blinks an eye. When I told two of my friends that I was going to try and write romance, both used the word smut. I was, of course, very annoyed. The funny thing is neither had ever read any romance before. Lets face it, most of the people who rip on romance have never read them. It is all very annoying.

02-11-2006, 09:56 PM
As a male who occasionally attempts to write from a feminine view I find the definitive words glaringly obvious in how it is written. My wife proofs my work in order to point out what she would say in certain instances, or to describe her views as a female. Men writing sexual scenes have a tendency to use the masculine concept/terminology for body parts and actions (even though a female is supposedly speaking or doing); whereby a woman would never use such harsh sounding words for the same body part.

Almost to the Holy 50 - I think I will get to 49 and never post again. If that doesn't drive me totally bonkers with stress, nothing will.

02-12-2006, 08:36 AM
Glad everyone here found my words of use. I did a book signing today and my points helped me illustrate to a buyer that my work isn't "smut," it's great romance. ;) '