Guest Post & Giveaway: Stan Morris

For today Stan Morris wrote an interesting Guest Post!  I hope you enjoy and don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post for your chance of winning Sarah's Spaceship Adventure! Check out the blurb and an excerpt from the book so make sure you go check those out too! Also, let me know what you think of the Guest Post!  I always love the comments :)

Why are More Men Reading Romance Books?
By Stan Morris
According to information from The Romance Writers of America website, men are only nine percent of romance book readers, although the website theromanceclub.com claims that this number is increasing.  The reason that men make up such a small percentage of romance readership seems intuitive, but why is this number increasing?  Why are men discovering that they like romance novels?
I was lucky enough to discover romance novels in the late 1980’s.  I was in the Kahului library on the island of Maui and feeling bored with the science fiction of that time.  I happened across two novels, The Adventuress by Marion Chesney, who now writes mysteries as M.C. Beaton and Wishes by Jude Deveraux.  Now this was a stroke of luck, for both novels are worthwhile reads.  Previously, I had read a couple of steamy romances, and while the sex was interesting, the writing was less than adequate.  I am a reader who stays with an author until I have exhausted that person’s work, so I began to read everything I could find by Chesney and Deveraux.  
About that same time period, a group which called itself “Friends of the Library” was formed to raise funds for the library system on Maui.  They were given space in an older building and they began to sell used donated books which they priced as little as ten cents.  They began to receive and resell many novels that were published by Harlequin and Silhouette, which had been acquired by Harlequin in 1984, and these books were priced at a dime.  Seeking to broaden my scope of romance literature, and seeing that they were sold for a pittance, I purchased a lot of them.  Some were not worth the dime, some were not that bad, and some were very good indeed; good enough that I began to select out books by certain writers and put them on my own shelves.  One of these writers was Stephanie James and another was Nora Roberts.  
There were also many regular romance books, so I was able to find an occasional Deveraux and Chesney.  Gradually, I came across Johanna Lindsey whose books were either very good or very bad, and then Jayne Ann Krentz whose writing I fell in love with.  I was not long before I realized that Stephanie James and Jayne Ann Krentz was the same writer.
This was in the days when Waldenbooks was still an independent entity and the internet was a text only system.  Email was the amazing new thing we had at Maui Community College where I worked.
Once I realized that I was really enjoying some of the romance authors I was reading, I started purchasing newer romance novels from Waldenbooks, and I discovered Pamela Morisi and other romance writers.  Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz and Marion Chesney had reached my must-purchase-new list.
So what was drawing me to these romance books?  In a word, quality.  Like any reader, I want to read books that have tight, well-plotted stories, characters that are interesting and not one dimensional, and climaxes that are well reasoned and often surprising.  Yes, man and woman will get together at the end of the book; we know that, so what is important is the process of getting them together.
Don’t get me wrong.  The romance genre has its share of lazy writers who use clichéd plots and devices.  I have often thrown aside a book where the hero or heroine overhears a conversation and ‘misunderstands.’  And some of the books have characters that I could care less about.  One of my shortest and most frequent private book reviews is, “An unpleasant book about unpleasant people.”  Heroines or heroes who set out to make their counterparts jealous will not find space on my shelves.  I enjoy erotica, but page after page of repressed boring desire, or even worse, violent physical meanness disguised as sex is not tolerated.  And in my mind, commitment is a must.  Jayne Ann Krentz has become one of my favorite writers because of her dedication to commitment and family in her writing.
I cannot help thinking that another reason more men read romance is the change from steamy covers featuring half clad females or males to more sedate and less defined images, although I notice that erotic scenes are still the case for many ebook romances.  I mean, come on, if guys want to read porn they’ll get on the internet.
Back in the 1990’s, it was very uncommon for me to hear about other men who enjoyed reading romance books, but this has gradually changed.  I remember listening to football one Monday night about a decade ago, and hearing the announcer mention that one of the players (I believe that he played for the Washington Redskins) enjoyed reading romance books.  Since then, it has become more common for men to “admit” that they enjoy romance literature.  
I’m sure that much of this is due to the changing nature of our society and culture.  The rigid lines that use to define us have blurred.  We are not surprised now to see women taking dangerous roles in the military, or to hear of men who are pursuing a nursing career.  And of course, it does not hurt for readers of either gender to be able to purchase reading material on-line.
Reading romance literature has helped me to become a better writer.  When my male and female characters interact, the spirits of the romance writers hover over me.  In Surviving the Fog, there is a conversation between two boys.  One of the boys declares that their survival depends on the males taking charge in order to survive.  The other boy counters with the observation that his group has survived due to the benefits of including the girls in the decision making process.  Two of my books, Amy’s Hero and Kate’s Movie Star are written primarily from a female point of view, something I probably never would have attempted before reading romance literature.  And my most recent book, The Colors of Passion and Love is written in the first person from a girl’s point of view.
One last observation; I think that if I had read romance novels as a teenager I would have had many more successful encounters of the physical nature with girls.  In other words, I would have scored more sex.  I say this because the insights I have gained into the mind set of women from reading romance literature has led me to be more empathetic to women.  Just another benefit from discovering romance books.

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1 comment:

  1. Interesting article. Good to have this insight!