So I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Not exactly sure why, but I’ve given up trying to figure out why my brain goes where it goes.
Anyway, the question is … Can an author write any genre without upsetting readers?
To clarify, what I’m wondering is … Can a man write romance women will love? Can a woman pen an action story that will have men talking? Do readers buy books based on the author’s gender? What about ethnicity?
I don’t know the answer. I’m just wondering.
Part of this came about because of some statements Nicholas Sparks made about his books and romance. Now don’t hang me up by my thumbs, but I enjoy his books. (Though I was quite unhappy about his comments regarding his “unique” storylines and how different they are from romance. That prompted this post, which he totally deserved.) Anyway … I like the way he writes and from the success of his stories, so do millions of people world wide.
But he’s a man. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve heard women (mostly writers) comment that a man can’t write romance. I beg to differ. My dear friend, Roscoe James writes the most amazing erotic romance I’ve read. His characters come alive. Their love stories resonate with emotion. His sex scenes are poignant and beautifully written. I laugh. I cry. I fall in love all over again even as his characters find their “happy-ever-afters”. There are many men writing romance and doing it well. Many, fearing the skepticism, skirt around the raised eyebrows by using pen names. I can’t say I blame them.
I know many women who write wonderful m/m erotic romance. One even … who’s gay! Yet their romances are best sellers and have won awards. Now granted, this may fall into a slightly different category as these women are writing romance for other women and not gay men. Still, I understand several female writers have a gay male audience. They’re not being told they can’t write m/m love stories.
And what about the caucasian author who wants to write the story of an African American heroine or vice versa? Will readers immediately turn from these books because the author can’t write that type of story?
Here’s my take on it. At the heart of writing is an author who’s a true actor. We “put on” the hats of our characters and play the role. Essentially, we crawl into their skin and listen to their thoughts. If we don’t, the reader won’t identify with that character and the story will fall flat. When I write from the hero’s perspective I have to think like a man, move like a man, talk like a man. Readers would be very unhappy if my male characters acted like women. Or my villians were boyscouts. Listen, I’ve never murdered anyone, but one of my favorite stories (still unpublished) involves a serial killer who does some really nasty crap. And as much as Mr. Nina would like to act out every scene in my erotic novels, let me just share with you … it hasn’t happened yet.
No one stopped Dustin Hoffman from playing “Tootsie” or Robin Williams from not only “Mrs. Doubtfire” but what about the robot he played that lived hundreds of years? Amazing stuff. I believe writers do the same thing. So why can’t authors cross all lines? Religious? Ethnic? Gender?
But that’s just the way I see things. I’m curious as to how you feel about it. Have you ever refused to pick up a book because you felt something about the author would prevent them from writing a story in that genre? If you found out your favorite romance author was the opposite sex or different skin color or … whatever … would you stop buying their books?