Wednesday, 13 November 2013

One of the cool kids...

I worry sometimes about historical romance. Maybe I'm hanging out with the wrong people or something, I don't know, but sometimes being a historical romance writer feels incredibly uncool. We're still kind of suffering from the days when it was all sweet and saccharine with painted covers of wind-swept, swooning heroines. And I don't know how much further we've come to be honest. Look at my covers... all swoons right? When I first started out, I was determined I'd have slightly dark, more interesting covers but quickly discovered that 'swoon' covers still very much define historical romance. Sales shot up after my first book had a cover change. Yep, it was a 'swoon' type one.

We've come a little way. We're happy to write about sex more openly I think. I still enjoy sweet historicals but find it refreshing when I read some really hot scenes in a historical setting. I still surprise some people with the heat levels in my books, though I consider mine very much sensual. And our heroines don't generally look they're about to be blown away by a gentle breeze.

And with the explosion of NA type hot reads with insanely sexy covers, it can be difficult to get ourselves out there. Only very established names don't have to fight to get visible because they have very loyal readers. I'm getting there, I think. I have some wonderful supporters but I do feel it's an uphill struggle and I worry that it's only the older crowd who will give a new historical author a chance. As a reader, I want fresh stuff. I want people to push boundaries in the historical genre. I don't want imitation after imitation of faux history, something very prevalent, or repeats of the same old story. But with minimal support for new historical authors, will we get fresh stories? What can we do to make historical romance cool? To separate it from it's ancestral roots?

Pride and Prejudice can be considered cool, so what is it about Jane Austen that appeals so universally to all age ranges? Is it purely the fact it's been made into series and films? I don't know. I do feel, as historical authors, we need to be bolder and more daring. I'm working on that. My latest heroine has PTSD. Not something that would have been known about or understood in medieval times so it's a challenge but I hope it is a step in the right direction.

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