Obviously we have author Myke Cole visiting with us today. I so wanted to do some sort of ridiculous intro. But sadly I’m blanking. I also don’t know Mr. Cole well enough. (Ok, so like at all.) Also, he seems pretty badass. And believe it or not, I’m actually not that stupid. I know not to mess with such persons. Also because I’m pretty sure Mr. Cole already thinks I’m dumb. (This whole misunderstanding on my part of what he has/hasn’t written…) >.> Anyway, let’s ignore all my chatter! Par for the course!
I think this is a pretty great post.
They say the average man thinks about sex every seven seconds. While this adage has long since been proven to be false, the fact is that we do think about it an awful lot.
You know what we also think about a lot? Love. Companionship. Romance. Marriage. Loneliness. Those thoughts shape our every action. They drive us to the gym, to the clothing store, to the barber. We push for wealth, status and power in part because of our desire to be attractive to a mate. Whenever my female friends complain that the world will never let them be anything other than young and beautiful, I always respond, “Oh yeah? Well, the world will never let me be anything other than strong, rich and powerful.”
These are exaggerations, of course, but they prove the central point: Romantic impulses are every bit as important to men as they are to women. We are just as interested in the topic as women are. We are socialized to approach it differently, but it matters to us. We CARE about it.
So somebody please explain to me WHY the romance genre has been labeled WOMEN ONLY?
Publishers seem to think that only women read it, that only women can write it.
And that’s just not right.
Do me a favor. Go google, “men who read romance.”
I don’t think I need to do a whole lot more than that to at least put some reasonable doubt on the table.
Here’s the thing: I wrote on Shiloh Walker’s blog that I’d read Nora Roberts and Lora Leigh, and I was looking to delve further into the genre. I’m as good as my word. Let’s add Solange Ayre, Rowan West, Lacey Thorn, Cindy Pape, Elayne Venton and Jory Strong to the mix.
It’s a mixed bag, but overall, the stuff works. These are people who can write, and they’re writing about topics that captivate.
And they’re all women.
Which raises the central question: Is romance really something that men aren’t interested in (either as consumers or producers)? I don’t think it is. Worse, I worry that perhaps romance publishers may be falling victim to assumptions that there’s no way to make money off romances targeted at men, or better, romances targeted at EVERYBODY.
I’m sure there’s some truth to that, but even if it were totally true, it’s not my problem. I’m not a romance publisher and I never will be.
But I’m a writer, which means that I can try to change the calculus from my side of the aisle.
I can do this in two ways: I can read romance and think critically about it. As with all literary genres, there is a broad and ongoing conversation across the Internet. There is critical, careful thinking about romance stories and writers, there is serious attention being given to dissection and discussion of the medium. And I can join that conversation. I can add a man’s voice to the current (I like to think that’s what I’m doing here). I can learn the genre as a discipline, become familiar with the old stalwarts and the young turks who are pushing the envelope. I can find romance’s George R. R. Martin’s and Paolo Bacigalupis. I can analyze trends and be hip to new ones as they form. I am already discovering that the more directly erotic stuff appeals to me a bit less than “single title” story heavy romances.
As with science-fiction and fantasy, I prefer novel length work to short stories. I am developing preferences/tastes in genre, and that’s the first step towards coming to fully understanding it.
And I can write romance, once I have learned my craft and am steeped deeply enough in the genre to know what I’m doing. Right now, I’m in the reading/learning phase, immersing myself in the genre, respecting it, trying to understand it, putting in the ground- work necessary to understand it. Once I feel I’m ready (likely at least a few years from now), I will begin my first tentative attempts to write it, building confidence slowly to the point where I feel I can tackle the barrier and write my own romance using a male name, and with a male’s author photo on the inside of the back jacket.
It’ll be a long trip and a lot of work, but if what I’m reading right now is any indicator, it’ll be well, well worth it.
Army Officer. Fugitive. Sorcerer.Across the country and in every nation, people are waking up with magical talents. Untrained and panicked, they summon storms, raise the dead, and set everything they touch ablaze.Army officer Oscar Britton sees the worst of it. A lieutenant attached to the military’s Supernatural Operations Corps, his mission is to bring order to a world gone mad. Then he abruptly manifests a rare and prohibited magical power, transforming him overnight from government agent to public enemy number one.The SOC knows how to handle this kind of situation: hunt him down–and take him out. Driven into an underground shadow world, Britton is about to learn that magic has changed all the rules he’s ever known, and that his life isn’t the only thing he’s fighting for.
Three lucky commenters will win a copy of Myke Cole’s book Shadow Ops: Control Point. So – what’re your thoughts? Do you know any guys who read romances? :X Do I have any male blog readers? (I have to admit I’d be surprised and totally jazzed about that.)
My husband reads certain authors. He’s read Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunters and League books (Loves the latter) and the belated L.A. Banks. So yeah, men do read romances. I’m trying to branch hubby out on some other authors.
He’s quick to pimp both authors out to female co-workers.
I got my husband to read The Fever books by Karen Marie Moning, as well as a bunch of paranormal YA romances.
I’m guilty. I tend to think that men read the mystery/sci-fi/military books and while I know women who read in those genre (me!) it doesn’t often occur to me that men read romance. Thanks for making me think. I don’t currently know any men who read romance, but since I write it, I hope that changes in the future.
i think it doesn’t matter what the gender of the authour is as long as rhe story captivates me. i would love read romance from a mans prespective. i send mr cole all the encouragement that he reaches his goals.
I agree with everything said! I have known a few male authors, authors of “pure” romance and romantic “insert other genre like suspense”, and mainstream stories with romantic subplots. Men CAN write romance. I know very few who admit to READING IT. I think that is sad.
A situation arose on a board I visit where a male poster commented that he loved the Black Dagger Brotherhood books. He wasn’t introduced to them as ROMANCE books but fast paced stories about kick-ass vampires. He claimed he wouldn’t have picked them up if they were described as romance oriented vampires with amazing sex drives. The same story would have existed but in his mind, he was reading an awesome adventure that happened to have finding a mate involved. He asked if there were other ‘girl-books’ like the BDB we could suggest.
We suggested several but it sparked a discussion on gender marketing. How likely would the same story be to appeal to men if the titles were more masculine, the covers less man titty and the advertising in places like Sports blogs? I bet VERY LIKELY. Human beings like a good, richly detailed story, period.
And I wish that the gender marketing wasn’t so one side with romance. Men could very well be your target audience and you don’t know it.
Oh and yes, I do have a few male blog readers who read me and other romance writers. I LOVE when they comment, review me or talk about my books.
Great Post !! ive been trying to get my husband to read my books for a lot of years but he tells me no way in hell is he going to be caught reading that stuff (his words) 🙂
HI Limecello and Myke,
Great post! Wow, Myke, you have lived an exciting life. My husband used to read romances–his minor was medieval history–but, sadly, I don’t think he’s picked one up since we were married. I follow Marjorie M Liu and have enjoyed catching your twitter banter with her every once in a while.
Thanks for chatting. You book sounds very interesting!
Check out Jessica Scott’s book, Because of You. If you follow her, you will see that several men, mostly military, have read her book and have commented on it. Gives a very interesting and sometimes funny perspective on the genre. I have not read your Shadow Ops books, but I don’t usually read paranormals…the only ones I have enjoyed have been Jayne Ann Krentz’s books, but since I do love thrillers, I might just have to give this a try. Would really like to see you try a romance genre book from a male perspective. I for one, would be very interested in ending it.
Very interesting post. I don’t personally know any men who read romance but I think it would be great for more men to read them. They might find some books they really like.
Aloha, Myke! Thank you for your service! My husband has read a few of my romances while waiting for me. He’s kept two because he thought they were funny.
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Outside M/M romance, I don’t know for sure if I know any men who read romance (my father might; he tends to just pick up and read whichever of the generally roughly a dozen books on my mom’s nightstand at any given point in time.)
I think I would love to see romance written by men (non-M/M).
On a slightly related note, guess I need to check out some of Myke’s work, so I can get an idea of what to expect!
I don’t think the stigma is necessarily all on the male side, either. I profess I don’t enjoy romances myself – not because of the (admittedly embarrassing) covers (though in the era before e-readers it WAS a factor in which genres I started picking up as a youth), but because I’m not particularly fond of the ‘Happily Ever After’ aspect. It seems… too easy, I guess – going into it you already know how it’s going to end. Where is the fun in that? But I admit to steering clear of most novels marketed as “romance”, whereas there are tons of urban fantasies I read with a romantic element that is nearly as strong. I wonder how many books I could be missing? (My to-be-read shelf is afraid to find out!)
I personally don’t know any men who read romances but there are probably a lot … they may just not want to admit it. And I for one would love to read one written by a man. I’m curious to see how it would compare to ones written by women.
Nice post Myke! I was actually talking about it with my sister today. 🙂 Of course, she doesn’t like reading romances but I really do believe that if it wasn’t for a bad relationship she had a little over a year ago, she might not be so against reading romances. I mean, when she was dating the guy, she would only listen to the Sirius Love station. Now she won’t do that either.
Anyway, Shadow Ops: Control Point sounds really good. I love that it has a paranormal twist to it. 🙂 Best of luck with your writing!
Wonderful post! I’m on the same page with most everyone, none of the men I know who actually read regularly admit to reading romance novels. And my go-to genre is sci-fi romance and my husband rolls his eyes at that so hard I think he’ll pass out. Too bad, I’d love to share with him.
I’d enjoy reading a romance written by a male author. I’d like a fresh take on sex and love, not the “this is what women want men to be like” but “this is what men really can be like”. S.Ops. sounds great, best wishes on your future success!
I really enjoyed this post!
I’m the only one that reads them in my whole family. I just feel they’re missing out on a good thing.
That book sounds like something I’d like to read.
Thanks Lime and Myke
What a great post!! It is so refreshing to hear from the male perspective on the issue of romance. How true that we are all about attracting a mate. I prefer romance to other genres, yet I read it all to learn. I soooo want to read Myke’s book and I can’t wait to read a romance written by you, Myke. Get going on it, please.
I have some Soldiers I know that are overseas that read romance… Um… ever heard of Leigh Greenwood?!? He, yes… He writes romance books!! It is good stuff!! I don’t get why everything has to be labeled… Myke wanna check out some variety in romance? I have a huge list of great authors on my blog…
Loved the post Myke. Sadly I don’t know any men who read romance– or who admit to it.
I really like the blurb for you new book, and will be checking it out.
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