Sunday, May 22, 2011

This is what a Romantic Novelist looks like

Dear Daily Mail,

Your recent piece on the Romantic Novelists Association summer party was a pretty terrible piece of journalism. I will refrain from commenting that this may be because you're a pretty terrible newspaper. Sweeping generalisations aside, several of the authors quoted have no recollection of saying the words attributed to them. Your piece was not only immensely patronising, it was clichéd, lazy, and inaccurate.

"All around me are middle-aged and elderly women in their pearls and support tights. They look like the kind of ladies you’d find working in charity shops or arranging the church flowers — can they really be penning the sort of racy novels that would make a convent girl like me blush?"
Yes, there are plenty of middle-age and elderly ladies in the RNA. There are also plenty of younger women too. Despite my own personal paranoia that turning 30 next year will mean I'm really really old, I really really won't be. And yet somehow, you managed to miss me at the party. Possibly I blended in with all these old ladies in their support stockings, but as I was over 6'2" in my gold stilettos, Grecian-style dress and diadem, I'm a little sceptical.

"Just when I’m beginning to think that everyone in the room is a sex-obsessed pensioner, I meet Trisha Ashley from St Helens, in Lancashire, who is not only a mere whipper-snapper at 49, but is also something of an oddity here tonight as none of her 14 books features any X-rated bedroom antics."

Oh...I can't even be bothered pointing out what's wrong with that paragraph. Suffice to say that were this a drinking game--one sip for every mention of 'bodice-rippers', 'swooning', 'steamy novel' and other clichés; another for basing expectations on the last romance novel you read, in 1974; one for each clichéd hero name made up; a whole drink for each mention of Barbara Cartland, etc--we'd all be plastered halfway through.

"It’s a world where heroines swoon with alarming frequency and heroes, with names like Troy and Cassius, must have permanent bad backs from forever scooping fair maidens into their manly arms. So why does it feel like I’ve accidentally stumbled into the Annual General Meeting of the Jam Makers and Knitted Toy Association?"

Not to mention all the sips for the clichés about old women. I'm only amazed the WI didn't get a mention.

Well, anyway. I'm not really sure why I'm surprised at this shoddy piece of work. Romantic novelists have long been the red-headed stepchild of the fiction world. We're crying about it into big bags of money now though, since romance is one of the most durable genres in tough economic times.

And just one last thought. Since you didn't even take off your blinkers enough to notice anyone in the room who didn't fit your pre-conceived idea of what a romantic novelist ought to look like--and I notice that none of the pictures your photographer took appeared with the article, possibly because they'd have exposed it as the baloney it is--I thought I'd open your eyes a little.

This is what a romantic novelist looks like.


  1. Judy Astley3:59 pm

    Exactly it, Kate. xxx

  2. Livbet4:13 pm

    Excellent piece.

  3. Excellent article, Kate.

    I wonder if the Daily Mail will have the courage to print some kind of apology.

    Pigs. fly. likelihood.

  4. Thanks Kate for a truly wonderful post. I had a good laugh! Quite a few of my friends were at that party - almost all in their 30s!

  5. wow, even for the daily fail that was scraping the barrel wasn't it? I can't remember the last time read anything so ageist, insulting and cliched.

    Loved this post though :)

  6. Some romance writers look like Mary Poppins. At least during the tap recital.

  7. You go, girl! Love it, wish I'd been there and a lot of other RNA members in their 30s. The woman should not be bestowed the title of journalist...that piece was NOT journalism!

    Rachel x

  8. gilli5:00 pm

    Well done, Kate. Mind you, given the blinkers and the fact she was a bit of a porg (person of restricted growth) her view of you was probably severely restricted. You have to feel sorry for her really.

  9. I love it Kate!!

  10. The original article is extremely ageist. However it seems to me that some posting here are similarly afflicted. Age is just a number, after all

  11. Louise Douglas8:16 pm

    Brilliant Kate xxxx

  12. Really enjoyed your post Kate and am going to retweet the hell out of it!
    I admit to a spot of cross stitch now and then, but only while listening to death metal.

  13. Well said.
    The lady in question is also a commissioning editor for the Femail pages of the DM. Perhaps we should all pitch suitably pithy feature ideas to her at a syncronised time?

  14. Well said, Kate! I've got a response of my own coming up later today.

  15. Meh. Everything the Daily Mail publishes should be assumed to be untrue unless proven otherwise. I hold by that and haven't found it steer me wrong yet (though I tend to avoid clicking on DM links, don't want to enrich Viscount Disgusting...).

  16. Quite right too. You tell 'em, Kate. Never had a blue-rinse in my life, although I do plead occasionally guilty to the support tights bit.

    Incidentally, I have awarded you a Versatile Blogger award, if you care to pop by my blog, cut and paste and do your thing...

  17. Anonymous5:08 pm

    Go Kate! I haven't had the delight of reading this article, suffice to say could we get the journo to come to conference? I promise to wear my burlesque outfit complete with nipple tassles...

  18. Lisa, you could probably dress as a Vegas Showgirl and she'd still be totally unable to see you, since you're not an old lady with a blue rinse!

    Perhaps we should all buy pearls, sensible shoes, and Dame Edna wigs, and dress up as expected?

  19. I am enjoying all these posts! I may even have to do one of my own...