Oh, Danielle Steel! First Nicholas Sparks, now you. How can we help you make peace with romance novels? It may be true that your novels are not romance, narrowly defined by some conventions of the genre. I’m not sure I agree, but I’ll grant the premise isn’t completely without merit, not least because I’m not immune to the packaging efforts of publishers. Which is not to say your books are without their conventions—I hate to judge*, but formulaic is a word that comes to mind—but perhaps in some way those conventions are quite specific to you and your prolific output, possibly distinct enough to consider them in a separate category from other titles. However, I get the impression here, Ms. Steel, that you don’t want people to think of you as an author of romance because it devalues your work, which it turns out is some kind of lofty thing about the human condition, and that is a problem. (To be fair, you handle the issue with quite a bit more grace than Mr. Sparks.)
Romance novels can be totally fabulous. Not all of them are, sure, but that’s true in any category including whatever category you’d each like to be in. More than that, though, if you think a different label will change how seriously people take you, you’re being a bit naive. You’re both giant targets, especially you, Ms. Steel, with your shelves and shelves of bright and shiny spines branded more thoroughly than any other set of books in any store. When I worked at Barnes & Noble, you took up half a bookcase all by yourself, even without duplicate copies of anything. Trust me when I tell you that that’s a noticeable amount of gold foil and fuchsia. When people notice success, they deride it. That, my friend, is the human condition.
But you’re also massively successful with more readers than you can count and dedicated fan bases who come back for more every time it’s on offer. Let the haters hate, as they say, and take a look at your bank statement when you’re feeling insecure about what people think of you. Not because money matters more than respect or makes up for all the world’s ills, but because it proves that people keep buying your books in droves, so you’re doing something right.
Oh, and, don’t make us link this blog to the Ducktales theme again, because you know we will.
*I love to judge.