Friday, October 13, 2006

Romance novelists hate me!

And they do it hilariously. See, I wrote this short piece the other day on those ads the Greater Washington Initiative is putting in the metro. With attention from both the New York Times and the Washington Post, mostly about how romance novel readers are Mortally Offended, it seemed totally ripe for a little satire, yes?

So anyway, some bloggers picked it up, in particular the one I mention in the article, and most people seemed to think it was funny. Who doesn't like a good bodice ripping joke? Some even noted that while they may cringe at the cliche language I used to poke fun, they couldn't deny that, you know, there's a reason it became cliche.

Oh, but one novelist didn't find it so funny. Sandra Schwab, author of such classic works as The Lily Brand (complete with cover of headless man, his pectoral muscles creating deep shadows on his otherwise featureless body) and...well I'm not sure what else, that's all that's on Amazon (a steal at $1.09!), though her web site promises more soon, probably involving "waxen bust improvers." Hott.

No, Ms. Schwab did not find me funny, not one bit. In fact she was so appalled by the piece that she blogged a response to me, then, finding her words of wisdom too great to only share with a number of daily visitors even smaller than mine, copied it almost verbatim onto the much more high trafficked comments section of Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Books (which is actually a pretty funny site). Then she totally started hyperventilating because her corset was too tight (and her panties in a bunch! it was awful!) and passed right the fuck out. I thought about just ignoring it, like all of her compatriots have, but she really looked like she needed CPR and me, being the selfless person I am, feel I have to dive in and save her from the silent death of her own silly arguments. Oh, and it's totally hilarious, read:
Dear Ms [G], didn't they teach you how to do proper research in law school? What a pity! You might have found out that the term "bodice rippers" refers to romance novels written in the 1970s; that the cover you posted is not a current one, but one from 1999; that Fabio retired from modelling several years ago; and that while Nora Roberts might have had auburn locks to toss in 1980, she is currently perfering a shorter and straighter hairstyle with no locks whatsoever. As I said: pity.
Oh Snap! She so got me you guys. I really hope she said "pity" in a British accent. I admit, she's right, I totally missed the class on "Researching Harlequin Hotties and Harlots" in law school. It conflicted with "Comparative Studies of Thermodynamics in Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica." Or maybe it was Torts, I can't remember. Wait, she added a the real kicker in the comment:
If this had been an assignment in my English lit class, I would have failed her...
This is where I say, "Thou doth protest too much," right? (Or do I get to say, "Eat my 4.0! Hi-ya!") I take it Ms. Schawb doesn't encounter a lot of satire in her job...writing about evildoers and heaving chests? Actually, I'm still trying to figure out what Fabio's retirement, Robert's short hair, or the not-new cover I used has anything to do with anything, except to show me Schwab has an awesomely enormous bank of useless knowledge.

The reason that Fabio's retirement has absolutely nothing to do with anything, is that I wasn't saying romance novel readers are stupid. I've read a few of the Harlequin series in my time (I used to volunteer in a library as a kid; they were everywhere), though I don't really make a habit out of it. I mean hey, I don't make a habit out of reading mathematical theorems either. (Don't judge me!)

The whole point that clipped Schwab's forehead as it flew over was that the ads are incredibly lame, and I really don't understand why anyone would take them seriously at all. And if someone's going to be offended, it should be all the people living in Washington, because the ad is not saying romance novel readers are stupid/illiterate, they're saying that Washingtonians are overly concerned with image, and that we'd all care so much about what you were reading on the metro that we'd have to adjust our own behavior because it's so important we make the right impression to strangers we'll encounter on a ten minute metro ride. No, the ad is not saying that romance novel readers are stupid, they're saying Washingtonians are morons because we'd immediately make a judgment of you because image is everything in this city.

If Ms. Schwab is so offended by ads that aren't even about her, or offended by me, who wasn't even coming down on her, then maybe she does have reading comprehension problems, but that has nothing to do with her liking romance novels. But please, do send us the press release when Castle of the Wolf drops next May; it's so going on my birthday wish list! I do love a good satire, after all.


At 7:54 PM, October 13, 2006, Anonymous bluegrasshole said...


At 7:28 PM, October 14, 2006, Anonymous Sandra Schwab said...

Dearie me. The world's a village.

Yes, I admit it: I was rather pissed off when I wrote that post. But then I'm always pissed off when people who are, or at least seem to be, clueless about romance diss the genre. If you want to snark, do an informed snark. You said you've read a few Harlequin novels -- couldn't you at least use the correct stereotypes then and satirize Greek millionaires' secret babies? Did you have to take the wrong stereotypes -- we've all got long tresses flowing down our backs, wear only pink (you forgot that one) and have Fabio all over our covers??? Not to speak of, romance is porn, romance is a tranquilizer, it subjugates women under the joint joke of patriarchy and capitalism (which you didn’t use, I know). If you love romance and have to read stuff like that often enough, you just might get a teeny-weeny bit annoyed even over a stupid ad or a commentary on said ad.

Then she totally started hyperventilating because her corset was too tight (and her panties in a bunch! it was awful!)

Nah. Stays. Not corset. And if I were really running around in the same attire as my heroines, I wouldn't be wearing panties either.

But please, do send us the press release when Castle of the Wolf drops next May; it's so going on my birthday wish list! I do love a good satire, after all.

Why don't you send me your snail mail addy and I'll send you a copy of the book when it comes out? Who knows? You might even like it. (Hey, this one even has a head on the cover!) (A bodiless head, though.) And if not ... Well, you can always put it into the trash, or sell it on amazon. I'll even sign it for you so you can sell it for 2,09. :)

At 1:57 PM, October 15, 2006, Blogger Heather said...

Just for all your comment readers out there, Sandy sent me an email, which I replied to. And I'm happy to read your new book! Send it my way and I'll do a little review right here on TTtC!

At 10:47 AM, October 16, 2006, Anonymous thedemocraticvolunteerfromNJ said...

It would appear as though someone is TOTALLY incapable of taking a joke. Ms. Schwab, we're looking in your direction. I don't understand how someone could take something so seriously that they can't see the humour in its imperfections.

Or, in the words of Stan Marsh: Holy Shit, dude.

At 8:43 PM, October 16, 2006, Blogger Roonie said...

I couldn't resist - your written prowess is highly impressive, especially here. Lovedlovedloved this post (and the initial post to start it all), the ensuing confrontational stuff, and your handling of it all!


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