The one where I have a Valentine’s Day plea for everyone to #RespectRomFic

Today is Valentine’s Day and I have a special Valentine’s Day wish this year. It’s not a wish for me personally but one for the genre in which I write and it’s a two part wish.

My first part is that I would wish for everyone who reads and loves this genre to declare it loudly and proudly. Many already do. They champion romance from the rooftops, they share their love for romantic books with anyone who will listen, and they (quite rightly) unashamedly immerse themselves in the genre for which I thank you so much. But there are those who see romantic fiction as a ‘guilty pleasure’. Please don’t! There is nothing whatsoever to feel guilty about when reading a genre that brings so much joy. Just see it quite simply for what it is – an absolute pleasure.

My second part is that I wish for those who haven’t tried this genre – possibly because of preconceived ideas as to what they’re getting or a negative experience with a book that wasn’t for them many moons ago – to give it a try. Because they might just be very surprised.

The romance genre is so incredibly diverse and there’s something in here for absolutely everyone. Whether you want to laugh until your sides hurt, immerse yourself in the world of billionaires, make an erotic connection with a shapeshifter or find hope and belief from a character going through the same life challenges as you, this is your genre.

Romance books, love stories, women’s fiction or whatever label you want to use are essentially stories of relationships – of love, friendship, family and community – and are therefore something we can all relate to.

What I find odd is that this genre is disregarded by so many yet stories which explore relationships are not unique to romance fiction. Pick up any book from any genre and, at its heart, it will be a book about relationships. Even in a gangland crime book, you’ll find love, friendship, family and community in among the drugs and violence. Our relationships are what make us human. Sometimes they’re amazing but quite often they can be messy, complicated and even toxic and romantic fiction explores this. It explores real life.

I’m immensely proud of what I write but I have, sadly, experienced looks of disgust and expressions of disinterest when I’ve shared my genre. ‘Urgh,’ said someone I met in a bookshop when signing copies of my latest release, ‘I can’t stand romance.’ I had the same reaction in a library when helping to promote my audio provider’s library app. I don’t understand this reaction. There are genres that don’t personally interest me as a reader, but I’d never be so dismissive or disrespectful of those who write them. I’d know the same care, attention, thought, research and effort has gone into writing them as has gone into writing mine.

Writing a book isn’t easy. I can’t compare genres because I’ve only ever written romance but I do stacks of research for every book I write and I feel every emotion my characters experience. As my books tend to be emotional ones, I go through a stack of tissues and paracetamol with each one, and it takes it out of me emotionally as well as mentally. I do this because it makes a difference to my readers. They connect to the characters because they feel what they’re feeling … because I felt it when I wrote it. Every time I read a review or receive a message from a reader thanking me for covering a particular subject which has personally resonated with them, lifted them, given them hope, it’s encouragement to keep going. This genre is wanted, needed and it genuinely makes a difference to readers. It can even change lives.

Romance fiction is about life. It’s about everything we experience every day. It’s escapism. It takes readers away from all that is bad in the world. It doesn’t avoid the bad stuff but it shows that there is hope. I couldn’t be more proud to write it and to read it.

A movement has started calling out the snobbery which dismisses romance books as somehow inferior using the hashtag #RespectRomFic It was started by Sara-Jade Virtue, Brand Development Director at Simon & Schuster UK and is championed by publishers and the Romantic Novelists’ Association. It’s gaining increasing momentum with support from so many who love this genre. We’re not saying it’s for everyone but why dismiss something you haven’t tried? You might discover that this is the genre you’ve been missing all your life!

Big Valentine’s Day hugs
Jessica xx

7 thoughts on “The one where I have a Valentine’s Day plea for everyone to #RespectRomFic

  1. I love romance fiction, and women’s fiction as a whole. Jessica, I am sorry you had to experience what you did at the signing and the library. I agree with what you’ve written here and Romance is such a great genre. Keep on writing beautiful books. I also don’t choose some genres, but romance is a favourite of mine.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hiya Jessica  How are you?  I just finished Healing hearts at bumblebee farm and it was the most amazing book I have read this year.I came down with covid (again) last week and I lied in bed or on the sofa just reading. I laughed and even she’d a tear whilst reading.I am so proud to be a chic lit reader! I love romance and have a few fave authors that I only read including your books.Thank you so much Jessica for making me feel uplifted and positive .Can’t wait for the next books Love and hugs Claire x 

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m good, thanks Claire. Thanks so much for commenting. Delighted to hear that you loved Bumblebee Barn so much but really sorry you’ve been hit by Covid again. Hope you’re feeling better really soon and glad you have books to keep you company x


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