Since my post today comes nearest to Valentine’s Day on Saturday, thought I’d take a look at a somewhat-related writing theme.
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Let’s jump in with this.
Since the publishing of my first indie novel, When Night Comes, I’ve become part of a fairly active Facebook group called, Christian Indie Authors (CIA). Yesterday, another fairly active discussion took place that I got drawn into, discussing a blog post. The post was called: “Women’s Fiction vs. Romance: A Tale of Two Genres.” You can read it, if you’d like, just click on the link.
The post tries to define the difference between Women’s Fiction, as a category or genre, with Romantic Fiction. I got drawn into the discussion because it is assumed, rightly so I suppose, that most of my books fall within these categories. Some people wanted to know what I thought about this. It got me to thinking how I viewed myself, and my own writing style.
Do I write Women’s Fiction? Do I write Romance Novels? I don’t know, do I?
I’m a guy, for crying out loud. I grew up playing basketball and baseball and surfing. I had girlfriends. I liked girls. I married a girl. I liked watching thriller movies. I liked reading action, adventure and suspense novels.
But it’s also true that I can get pretty emotional. I want to have thick skin, but I can get hurt by things people say. Sometimes deeply. I like to watch romantic comedies and Jane Austen movies with my wife (I’ve probably seen all of them multiple times). I like Downtown Abbey. I cry after Budweiser beer commercials that include puppies and Clydesdales.
It’s also fair to say, taking stock of all my published novels, that while I haven’t been deliberately trying to write women’s fiction, maybe I’ve been writing it just the same. Especially if it’s defined, as it is in this article by Jane Heller, “as novels written with any relationship at the core of the plot.”
In many interviews over the years, when asked what kind of novels I write, I have said I write “relationally-driven stories.” Many magazine and blog reviewers have referred to me as a man who writes romance novels. Several have called me the “Nicholas Sparks of Christian Fiction.” I’ve never defined myself as a romance writer. But I almost always include a strong romantic thread in my books, mainly because romance is a part of real life and real relationships.
I love stories–even suspense stories–where the relationships of the characters is a serious, if not dominant layer. Still, I haven’t thought of my writing as women’s fiction, or see myself mainly focused on “women’s issues.” I’d say I include women‘s issues because I take them seriously in real life, and did so even as a pastor (“If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy“). My wife’s opinion has mattered to me more than anyone’s for all but the first 5 years of our 38 years together (the first 5 years, I was a total moron).
But in my books, I’ve also wanted to help ladies understand men better, too. Not all men are beer-drinking, football-loving, clock-in-clock-out guys, high-fiving (or fist bumping) all the time. Even some of those guys have very complex layers going on beneath the surface. They’re just terrible at expressing them. So…I help them, and other types of guys, in my books. By letting my women readers hopefully gain some insight into what guys really think (in those moments when they are actually thinking). I guess I try to be an equal-opportunity author, genderly-speaking (not a word, I know).
Does that make me a Women’s Fiction author? Or a romance author? What are your thoughts?
This last bit is totally off the subject. I’m finishing up a new devotional I’ve been working on off and on over the past few years. In true indie fashion, I’m also taking a stab at designing the cover. Here’s a pic showing where it’s at now. I’d love to hear your thoughts, opinions and any suggestions, too.