People who follow romance writers’ (rather than readers’) boards and blogs might have noticed at the moment there’s a message being put out there by publishers, for authors:
No more home renovation. No more ageing parents going into homes. No more bakers. No more etc. etc. etc.
This is especially the case with category romance publishers (Mills and Boon and Harlequin), and my initial reaction was THANK GOD.
Not that I dislike all books with these themes, but reading category romance has become a lot like Groundhog Day recently! The same book being put out over and over again, and as someone who receives a lot of category romance review books, this request couldn’t have come soon enough.
Here’s my theory why these themes just won’t go away, and why authors are missing the mark a little bit:
They’re writing their characters as the wrong ages!
What is the average age for your romance heroines and heroes these days? Say, twenty-seven or twenty-eight for a heroine and about thirty for a hero?
Now, how old would that make their parents? And how many parents of that age are going into nursing homes? VERY FEW!
Home renovation themes for characters these ages? Sure, but not in the way authors are writing it. People in their twenties aren’t looking to retire to the country to run a bed and breakfast. They’re moving to the cities and looking for a fancy apartment they can afford, or a place close to the city centre for easy access to restaurants and theatres and things. They’re getting going on an adventure, not slowing down and backing away from it.
And the baking – well, there’s only so much a person can read about cupcakes before you start to feel like you’re actually gaining weight reading about it! Sure, lots of younger women bake, but it seems to be one of the few hobbies authors are giving their young women characters (alongside quilting – another stereotypically “older” hobby).
People write from life experience, and if you’re at a certain stage in your life – say the parents going into homes, and retiring and renovating a home in the country, and baking for the grandkids sort of stage – of course it’s going to bleed into your writing, even if the characters you’re writing are three decades younger.
I think publishers wouldn’t be overwhelmed with this type of manuscript if more authors put a bit more thought into what life is really like when you’re twenty-eight!