This interview for The Big Issue was doubly exciting because it was written by one of my favourite authors, Toni Jordan.’Addicted to Love’ was the cover story of the issue, and it include quotes from Anna Cowan, who I think is one of the most exciting new authors in romance. This is what I had to say:
Kat Mayo is not a Fifty Shades fan, but she understands the reasons behind its success. Mayo, who blogs at bookthingo.com.au and also edits Romance Buzz, the romance newsletter for online bookseller Booktopia, believes that classic genre romance is popular for two reasons: the unashamed focus on the concerns of women, like domestic, family and career issues; and the satisfying emotional payoff of a guaranteed happy ending.
For some readers and critics of literary fiction, it’s this ‘guaranteed happy ending’ that’s most problematic about romantic fiction. Mayo argues that literary fiction is not a byword for ‘realism’. “We have a lot of literature that deals with death, suicide, infidelity, paedophilia, depression – literature runs the gamut of emotions,” Mayo says. “The optimistic ending is no more or less realistic than any other kind of ending. They’re all fiction.” She believes this well-defined sense of how the story should end offends certain literary sensibilities. “That’s an ideological standpoint,” Mayo says.
Mayo loves a good happy ending, but the journey of the protagonists is equally important. “The stories are really about power exchanges. The characters are in conflict, intent on self-preservation, and love makes them feel vulnerable. How do they negotiate that, so that there’s a successful relationship at the end? These themes of power and identity are expressed differently than in a literary novel, but they’re still there.”
Genre conventions govern any kind of book, including inner-urban literary fiction and its sense of ennui, but the sheer size and breadth of the readership for romance novels precludes a cookie-cutter approach. “People in happy marriages, single people, divorced people, both men and women – there’s not one kind of readership,” Mayo says. “It would be a mistake to say it provides wish fulfilment for people. You can’t conclude that by looking at the statistics.”
You can read the rest of the article here.