- On February 29, 2016
Over the past few years, I’ve noticed quite a lot of hate toward certain writers and/or specific genres. Since I write mostly romance, I knew I’d eventually receive those verbal lashings, too. And today, it finally happened. When someone came across Blood Rose on Twitter, his response was this: “YAWN; check E. George, or R. Chandler, for that matter.” For those not in the know, both Elizabeth George and Raymond Chandler are mystery novelists.
When did we get to a point where readers are being criticized for the books on their bookshelves instead of celebrating reading? When did we get to a point where authors are belittled instead of celebrating the creation of literature? Since this is happening more frequently than I’d like to admit, I thought I’d breakdown the definition of “literature.” (A big thanks to Dictionary.com.)
I ask when this change occurred, but since I typically see this hateful behavior toward Stephenie Meyer and her Twilight Saga, as well as E.L. James and her Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy (17+, please!), I can make an educated guess. Critics tend to forget: just because something isn’t your genre doesn’t mean it’s not good writing or a good story line; just because you prefer a specific genre doesn’t mean all other genres are moot.
In fact, popular fiction genres, like romance, fantasy, science fiction, dystopian, etc., often have powerful underlying themes. In my Blood Books trilogy, I touch on deeper questions like: what does it mean to be immortal? What is the nature of evil? How are our deepest prejudices formed? And this is new adult paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Consider television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which has been praised for its metaphors (so much so that major universities are teaching courses just on the popular show). Books with erotic romance or imagined creatures can hold just as much power as literary fiction.
I posted about this on Twitter, and I received so much support (I thank you immensely for that!). One comment stood out. A follower said, “Great people are criticized most by those that refuse to enter the arena, and instead cast opinions from the fringes. #KeepItUp.” This is so true. I’ve noticed that most “haters” have never read the series they’re hatin’, yet they still feel obligated to cast shadows of doubt.
If you learn nothing else from this post, I hope you leave with this: that book you’re criticizing is no less of a piece of art than the classics you compliment; that author you continuously discredit is no less of a writer than the novelists you praise.