23 May 2011

This Is What A Romantic Novelist Looks Like

Alleged journalist Claudia Connell of the Daily Mail apparently had on her granny goggles when she recently attended a RNA conference in London to report on it for the paper. All she could see, when she looked around at a room full of women of varied ages and appearances, was grannies, grannies, everywhere. "All around me," she remarks in the article, "are middle-aged and elderly women in their pearls and support tights."

Other attendees of the same conference were a little baffled by Ms. Connell's characterization. Like author Kate Johnson, age 20-something, who was also at that RNA conference, wearing a tiara and gold high heels, which Ms. Connell's granny goggles kindly re-envisioned for her so as to retain the article's wonky stereotype.

Ms. Connell went on to refer to RNA attendees as "sex-obsessed pensioners", while confessing that she found herself kind of liking them -- although she'd really rather HER mum take up a traditional old-lady pastime of gardening.

Interesting question: if Ms. Connell had attended a conference of mostly male writers and worn grandpa goggles, do you think she'd have been as snide about their careers and their talents, or would she have noted that it must be a tough field, this genre writing thing, since the average age of the attendees spoke of years to one's hone skills and business savvy? Or would she have eschewed the grandpa goggles entirely and looked around her to see the vast assortment of faces, bodies and ages that exists at every writer's conference I've ever attended?

After further contemplation of the article, author Johnson decided to follow up her original post with a social media campaign to show the Daily Mail what a romantic novelist looks like.

You can find the Twitter hashtag of participants here: http://twitter.com/#search?q=%23thisiswhataromanticnovelistlookslike

And you can find some pictures of romantic novelists below from various members of Beyond the Veil. Let's start with me since I have that photo ready to go:

I TOTALLY fit the stereotype, right? Never mind that I was dressed as Mary Poppins for a rather vigorous tap recital I was in. I have pearls on (in my ears), a daffy hat, and "support hose" (aka dance tights). Alas, my hair has no blue rinse and that's not exactly a twinset. But close enough.

However, I usually look a lot more like this:

I had taken off my maroon steampunk jacket since it was kind of warm at the booksigning, but that is a sweater vest. That's kind of like a twinset, right?

Now let's take BTVer Carolan Ivey. She's got several splits in her romantic novelist personality as well. Sometimes she rides a Harley:

But sometimes she goes to Rennaissance Faires:

Just depends on which side of the bed she wakes up on, I guess--whether she dons the leather and chaps or the brocade and bodice. I left out the picture of her with her dogs because they're probably on both sides of the bed. Now let's have a gander at author JM Ward:

JM is on the left with the blonde hair, which she sometimes ripples with some red flame dye (sorry, no blue rinse!). Wouldn't you love a granny like that? She was busy hanging out with her friend Jen Jawidzik, keyboardist for the Cruxshadows, backstage and stuff.

Next let's peep at author Kimberly Troutte.

She's got to be, I don't know, a great grandmother with that face...a great grandmother of ideas that birth ideas that birth ideas. She probably has twenty idea grandbabies running around in her head at any time, waiting for their stories to make it to paper.

To be fair, I know a bunch of authors who are grandmothers, who have lovely grey or white hair, who can maybe afford a nice strand of pearls, and who appreciate the massaging benefits of support socks (probably not so much with the support hose since those are too much like Spanx). Some of them have been publishing for years, so their career longevity is to be worshipped -- not mocked -- while some are newer to publishing. Nobody ever said a person can't follow her dreams later in life, or earlier!

The fact is, I know a lot of romantic novelists -- and readers -- of all ages and appearances and colors, living in all parts of the world, with jobs and hobbies and families and senses of self that make every one of them unique. It would take some mighty powerful granny goggles to boil them all into a single stereotype, but Ms. Connell managed it. Perhaps the Daily Mail hands out stereotype goggles to its writers as a matter of course? After all, if you don't do much research because everything you see looks the same, you can avoid pesky things like "facts" and "truth" and instead save on money and time.

So, what do you think a romantic novelist looks like?

Jody W.
www.jodywallace.com * www.meankitty.com
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