A person I didn’t know well discovered that I had authored several books. She asked what type and assured me I was in the wrong genre. “If you write dirty, trashy love stories, you will make a fortune.” She knew this to be true. My ears perked up. “You mean like ….?” I asked.
“All I know is this I know someone who makes a fortune and uses a pen name,” she said. “She cranks them out once a month and her readers can’t wait.”
I thought about her words, which took me back to my youth when my teenage friends and I sneaked to read “True Story” magazine at the beauty shop while our mothers were under the hairdryer. Compared to today, those stories were Disney worthy (almost) but back then they were read in secret. Modern Romance was another magazine were sneaked to read.
When I was a young woman in my twenties, popular novels with edgy love scenes were the rage, and ladies passed them from one person to another. We had no Amazon and the library would never have books like these on their shelves. My first real “trashy” book (to my naïve eyes) was “Forever Amber”. It was filled with romance and heroes and damsels in distress. To this day, I can still say that was a memorable read, not because it was “descriptive” but because it was a romantic story. There is probably not a person over fifty who hasn’t read “Gone with the Wind” or seen the movie – one of the best love stories ever written!
A few years ago, as I was watching Good Morning America, the ladies were gaga over a new book. If it were THAT good, I needed to read it, so I did. It started out as a typical love story: rich man, average girl, the pursuit and the doubts, etc. etc. As the chapters progressed, I couldn’t believe what I was reading, so I keep reading! By the end, I couldn’t understand the infatuation with the book. (Maybe I’m too old.)
Every writer has an audience and romance sells. That GMA promoted book made a fortune, as did the next one, proving women never tire of stories like that. However, most of us want a “feel good” romantic story that reminds us of a good movie like “When Harry Meets Sally” or “You Got Mail” or “A Star is Born” (although that one doesn’t end the way I wanted). What has made the Hallmark Channel the no one cable “movie” channel on TV? Romance, happy endings, and bakeries, florists, and wedding planners. As for a good romance story, I am working on it. As for one that boundaries go beyond romance, I’m looking for a pen name!