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A Fine Romance, with no kisses…

by on January 26, 2014

Any one else remember that UK TV sit com with Judi Dench before she became a Dame, and her real life husband? (Ha, and you all thought I was going somewhere else with that blog title. Well, tough: shame on you for having low minds.)
It’s been on my mind recently after hearing the title song whilst changing stations on the car radio. Why? because I’ve been musing this year about Romance and Writing, and now -on a cold, wet,grey January morning: with a howling gale and rain storm going on outside, a single bloke’s mind might well turn to writing about warm breezes, sun kissed sand dunes and blue .

Lucky them, is all I can say, for my thoughts have been on a strange combination of things around my achieved bok sales, genre, and gender. I’ve used gender rather than sex because I know some of you have smutty minds and imaginations, OK? I’m trying to be highbrow here and keep the tone of the blog out of the gutter (even though more people would probably read it if it was in the gutter. Oh well.)

Writing comic fantasy is a hard thing, you know. If I wanted to produce Conan style sword-and-sourcery books I’m sure that it would be a lot easier. For a start, there would be a well oiled muscular chap on the cover to attract all the shallow minded girls (pandering to my blog readers, really) or an improbably under dressed and over bosomed girl for the back cover to sweep up all the other readers. Volunteers for such a cover shot should be in touch, you know where to reach me. Sorry, got sidetracked for a minute there. I was reflecting on the make up of my writing group -The Alliance of Worldbuilders- the other day, and there are actually more girls than blokes in the group, which I suspect explains why the Romance thing is more prevalent amongst the fantasy writers I talk to online, both in and out of that group. I’m sure that somewhere there is an explanation for the fact that amongst the writers I talk to there are hardly any other comic fantasy writers around. I’m not talking here about writers who, like my good friend and fellow fantasy writer MTM (Guesting here during the week with her new covers on the post called ‘Picture This’ and who constantly uses humour in her fantasy saga) but of writers for whom the whole point of the book is to make the reader laugh. Even the great Sir Terry doesn’t really do that, so i seem to be plowing a lonely furrow in the wake of Robert Rankin. Who? you ask, sort of establishing my thoughts, there.

Why? because the stuff doesn’t well well enough. You would think, in these bleak times, that comedy would be on the rise? Doesn’t seem so, or not in fantasy. So, as someone I’ve forgotten* once asked: What is to be done? Ah, then we come back to the title of this week’s meander through my mind, Romance. I’ve been thinking for a while that what I really, really, need is a Romantic Comedy. If you’ve seen my FaceBook stuff recently, you know that I’ve been in a terribly romantic phase for a few weeks now.

“My wife has an allergy. Have these flowers been sprayed with anything dangerous?”
“No, Sir. But the pharmacy is next door if you can wait for a minute.”

“Don’t criticise me until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes!”
“A mile? When you can’t even walk to the bar in them?”

“I wanted a new dishwasher. In the end I got a new boyfriend, it was cheaper.”

“I kept telling my husband to think for himself. But look what happened when he did.”

“Doctor, I Keep getting sudden periods when I don’t hear anything.”
“Don’t worry. You have to expect silences in the house when your wife goes away for a couple of days.”

“You never take me anywhere!”
“Took you to the refuse dump last week. Brought you back as well, because they refused you.”

As you can see, I’m getting somewhere! So, the next book – not the next release, that’s already off for copy editing – is going to be a full on Romance. With my characters ( you thought I was going to say my track record, didn’t you? Ha!) that’s going to be tricky, of course, but I’m going to give it my best shot. I might even bring in a Vampire or two: though I’m not too sure I could live with myself if I let them sparkle, and my publisher (more power to his elbow, say I. May his socks never turn unexpectedly green) lets me get away with it. Unless he takes one look and reclassifies it as ‘Horror’ of course. Always a very real possibility, and better than ‘horrible’, too.

I think I might finish this unusually serious blog by asking any fellow writers out there: what do you think of the Romance (or PNR) genres? Why are they such high sellers, and why does adding a tincture** of Romance seem to add to the marketability of a work? And what are my chances of breaking into the market? No, don’t answer that one. I’m already depressed.

And finally, another cute puppy picture to pander to more…encourage further… (Aha! that’s the phrase!) extend the appeal to a wider demographic.


*I’ve remembered now. I was thinking of Jeremy Clarkson. Now I’ll go and find a suitable penance.

** Could it be a nasty medicine is good for you? No? Oh, right.


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  1. Phnark! It’s funny you should say that about my humorous technique. I did set out to write entirely for laughs but my characters weren’t having any of it.

    As for the naked man torso books…. I’ve no idea why they sell so well so far. I have tried a couple – I thought maybe I could make a foray into a more profitable genre – but my conclusion so far is that I am one for the yuckily condescendingly named ‘cosy’ – cosy is NOT spelled with a z people – romance. I don’t think I could knowingly write a book called cosy anything. The word has so many of the wrong kind of Whitehousian connotations that I may as well call it twee, sigh. Piss poor marketing suss from whoever came up with the ‘cosy’ tag there, but I digress, where was I? Oh yes….

    When I get to the steamy bits I find myself thinking ugh, I’d hate it if someone did that to me like that, or I’m wanting them to hurry up shagging already and get on with the plot. And the next thing I know I’m skipping the biological bits and I’ve made my kindle bookshelf look like a lady wank bank for nothing.

    So good luck with the naked man torso banned! Phnark 🙂 I will look forward to seeing your take on it. Will you take a lady pen name? Willemena Macmillan Smith perhaps. Snortle.




    • I’m not so sure that i can do the full on steamy stuff MTM, so your bookshelf will either be innocent of my work, or alternatively failing to corrupt it.

      I’m afraid that the plot is likely to be my usual style, and the jokes probably won’t get better. But oh, the scenarios and content? Kim, if you read this, how about a half naked, sweaty dwarf for the cover? No?

  2. Snerk. Leave the half-naked drawn off. And I won’t read stuff with half-naked men OR torn bodices on the cover, but you already know I’m not normal.

    My muse, like yours, seems to have it’s tongue firmly stuck in cheek. But like MTM, the books don’t come out with humor as the top motive. Instead, it jumps in with snarky comments at inopportune moments. Kind of like me.

    And if you live in the U.S. of A, cozy IS spelled with a z*. Deal with it.

    *Unless you’re me. I spend so much time reading from both sides of the pond that I alternate randomly between British and American spellings of many words, to the dismay of both Spellcheck and my editors.

    • Sigh. Stupid autofill. That’s “dwarf”.

      And I think I forgot to add anything useful to the discussion. Sorry.

      • You could wrap your books in a plain cover? My US friends are telling me that half naked blokes on the cover increase sales.

  3. Rebecca Douglass permalink

    Well, like I said, Will, I’m not normal. Yeah, I’m pretty sure your friends are right. At least, there are sure a lot of books out there with half-naked blokes on the cover (or half-naked dames), and they sure fly in and out of the library. So run with it.

  4. As long as your publisher doesn’t recoil in horror, Will. Not sure about the half-naked sweaty dwarf on the cover, but you never know. 🙂

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