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I found this author interview at the Book Bitches blog. The author is a lady called Jill Barnett.

One of the questions that she was asked was this:

This was her rather interesting answer:

Is it me, or does she seem to be blaming the loss of romance readers, on the introduction of erotica/erotic romance?

It can’t possibly be because of the constant regurgitation of the same old, same old cookie cutter stories, being churned out by both big name, and midlist authors? Nope, let’s just blame erotic books. That’s the ticket.

I wonder how many erotic romance books she’s actually read? More to the point I wonder if she’s lumping erotica in with erotic romance? That comment about little room for voice in erotic stories, struck me as being a little patronising and myopic. I think Emma Holly has an amazing voice, and she writes erotic fiction. Methinks she’s just insulted a whole lotta authors out there, and she doesn’t even know it.

Oh well, it’s not like she’s a lone voice here, we know there are lots of authors who feel the same way as she does.

I bet she’s Elizabeth Bevarly’s bestest friend. *g*


  • Sarah McCarty
    July 15
    11:47 pm

    Everytime a new angle comes along, it gets the blame for the ruination of what’s currently there. People naturally distrust change. The same thing was said about futuristics, romantic suspense, paranormal, etc. The decline of print runs from days of old is a very complex multi-dimensional phenomenon and no one thing is it’s cause and no one thing it’s salvation. IE. Th Blaze line wa supposedly a flash in the pan whose appeal would never last and was, single-handedly going to be the destruction of Silhouette. Obviously, that didn’t occur. 🙂

    Houses pretty much respond to what readers buy. We’ve seen enough lines fold over the last two years to know that if it doesn’t sell NY has no compunction about ending it. And if a genre doesn’t sell big enough for the larger houses, a smaller press will pick it up, like Ellora’s Mainstream Cerridwen Line launching a regency line now that NY has closed their regency divisions.

    Publsihing is a business. Part is hard research, part is trial and error. I don’t see the witty snappy sass of chick lit leaving romance now that readrs have had a taste of it (though Chick lit itself will probably evolve) and I don’t see heat leaving romance. The latter has been building for 40 years. As heat level has no bearing on story quality, I don’t even see it as an issue in the romance genre. But everyone sees everything differently and I’m sure many will disagree.


  • Nicolette
    July 16
    12:06 am

    Eh. Good writing is good writing, and if the market is indicating that readers want a more sexually charged product, then complaining about it really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

    We’re talking about a product that can be “spendy” (as the Minnesotans say.) Back in the say you could buy several books and not feel too bad in one was a dud, but now you really do feel the pain of money wasted.

    A reader has every right to spend their cash on what they’d like, and these days there are a lot more choices. This benefits the reader and also the writer is they’re willing to evolve.

    However, it doesn’t surprise me that writers are worried at all the sub-genres and writers who are adding fresh takes.


  • Anonymous
    July 16
    12:08 am

    Jill Barnett used to write really lovely historicals. I fondly remember “Wicked” and “Bewitching”, two sexy, funny historicals. During the last several years the author switched to mainstream fiction, a genre I never really enjoyed and ergo don’t buy.
    IMHO romance as well as erotic romance produce many “dull” stories. To find something really satisfying one has to search quite a little bit. Of course, browsing the internet always helps this quest *hehe*.

    To blame the erotic romance market for the loss of 75% of readers doesn’t sound really convincing. The erotic romance market simply makes clear that there’s more to romance than flowery, overly stereotyped, conservative stories with boring sex and forever sexually repressed heroines (The exception proves of course the rule.)


  • Lauren Dane
    July 16
    12:21 am

    I’ve never read her stuff so I can’t say anything about her voice. But I’m guessing that she hasn’t read any of mine so where does she get off decrying an entire subgenre as not having room for a voice? Why, because we use graphic words for pink parts and leave the bedroom door open? There’s no voice in books with sex in them? How so?

    The thing that bothers me so much is that this all sounds like it came out of her ass. And at the risk of offending people (god knows butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth or anything), I just wish that people would actually try to make sense when they give interviews instead of spouting off the same dumb shit about how “teh evol sex peddlers are the ruination of romance” when that’s not true, there is no data to back it up and it’s almost always said without any real knowledge of the genre or the authors in it.

    In the end, I don’t care what she thinks. She’s clearly not buying my books – although one wonders if we’ll see her writing for Blaze next year. But this is just plain insulting to romance READERS who buy erotic romance in droves. Enough to drive the market to creating erotic lines at the big houses. My readers think erotics are romantic, that’s what matters most.


  • Jenn
    July 16
    12:30 am

    I also enjoyed Bewitching but her books after that one was sort of boring. My opinion only.I don’t care what genre you write. If you write a good engrossing story sex or no sex, I am buying it.My favorite author Linda Howard has written books with different plots and they are always refreshing. Her latest Cover of Night hardly has any sex scenes but I liked the story a lot. She never fails to hold my attention. I think excuses of why readers stop buying a certain genre or from a certain author has more to do with the story. No matter how much sex is in it.Is it a good one? Plot matters. I think JK Rowling is one of the best storytellers to come out in ages but no sex in her books….yet(g)Not that there is anything wrong with a lot of good hot sex to liven up a story(g). It is just not my first thought for liking a story or not. I came to the internet looking for good vampires stories when a rep form a publisher said it was a dying genre because it wasn’t selling at truck stops. Whoever the knucklehead was that said that should join the editors who turned down Harry Potter.


  • Jane
    July 16
    4:13 am

    She sounded pretty Eizabeth Bevarly-ish there (that is to say, ignorant of the erotica/romantica genre). What I thought was totally ironic was her reference to LKH as one whose vision is and was always paranormal because I am pretty sure that everyone agrees LKH is writing erotica right now. I think LKH has even come out and said that.

    I am not sure whether JB belongs in the annals of ABB but will await her response to my post. I suspect that no response is forthcoming.


  • Desiree Erotique
    July 16
    8:53 am

    All I can think to say is that the woman needs to get real. Historically, erotica has been around a heck of a lot longer than Romance. If anything’s attached itself, it is formula-style Romance to erotic fiction. And if erotica writers can live with this, then she would do well to stop looking at erotica as a threat.


  • Ann Wesley Hardin
    July 16
    1:04 pm

    At the risk of sounding conceited, I think there’s hella voice in my erotic romances. In fact, it’s the one single aspect of my writing that’s always praised across the board–whether or not the reader/reviewer likes the story. I think it’s what got me published in the first place!

    Can anyone out there say Daisy Dexter Dobbs doesn’t have voice, or Sarah Mccarty, or Jaci Burton, or any of the other kick-ass EC authors? C’mon. That whole argument is just totally absurd.


  • Kat O+
    July 16
    2:21 pm

    Is it true that there are now 75% fewer romance readers? I find that really hard to believe. Here’s a thought: maybe the decline in print runs is due to an increasing number of imprints and authors trying to take a slice out of the same pie. Or maybe it’s because of e-books. Or maybe Internet piracy. Or more libraries. Or maybe she was talking about natural attrition and forgot about the younger generation who aren’t quite as uptight nor as judgemental as her target audience.

    But hey, who am I to spoil a tidy conclusion with alternatives?

    As for voice, it’s not just a question of having a voice – all writers do – but whether that voice resonates with readers. Voice also isn’t enough to save poorly conceived plots and shallow characters. Having read straight romance, erotic romance and erotica, I can honestly say that in all subgenres, I have read really sucky stories and really brilliant ones. Good erotic scenes aren’t easy to write and bad ones are really, really easy to spot.


  • Lynne
    July 16
    4:53 pm

    I’m sure the big publishers spend gobs of money trying to figure out “what readers want,” and I don’t think even THEY can keep all that firm a grasp on what will or won’t sell. The market is constantly changing. Blaming declining sales on any one factor — e-books, erotica, comic books, Harry Potter, sun spots, whatever — is unrealistic, IMO, and only makes the accuser sound like he or she may have an axe to grind.


  • Milady Insanity
    July 16
    5:57 pm

    I’ve actually read Jill Barnett. But that was back when I read historicals.

    I wonder if this will escalate (maybe this is the wrong word) into another Author Behaving Badly episode.


  • raine
    July 16
    6:35 pm

    …Readers buy an authors voice, her way of storytelling, not a type of book…

    Then if you write such books, and you have a fantastic voice, there’s nothing to fear, is there?


  • Kristie (J)
    July 17
    6:06 am

    Karen: I’m going to disagree with you and many of the posters on this one. I don’t see this as the same kind of situation at all as some of the other ABB examples. First off, this is an interview. This isn’t a case where she is going around posting on blogs in a tongue in cheek/sarcastic kind of way in the way she sees things. Nor is she posting on a message board asking to see financial statements. I imagine she was approached by the Book Bitches for an interview.
    Nor is it the same situation as Ms. Beverly where she is criticizing erotic/romantica romance while at the same time writing for Blaze, the Harlequin line that writes the hottest books of all of them.
    I don’t see her BLAMING the decline in romance on erotica/romantic, rather the way I read it she says that’s one of the factors in readers reading less traditional romance. And she’s right. I’ve read a number of readers on message boards say they aren’t getting what they want the way they used to so they are turning to romantica instead. And she agrees with one of the reasons, “and the dull uninspired limits placed on the historical romance genre by publishing houses”. It’s a fact. And I also don’t think she has read a lot of erotic romance. So? Who says you have to? Doesn’t one run the risk of being just as judgmental if they criticize someone who doesn’t choose to read it? And if she doesn’t read it, she may not know the differences. Should she be judged and found wanting for that? If you read the complete interview, she has been in a grieving process for the past four years. It’s easy for some of the posters to jump all over her and make snap judgements, but I don’t think they walked in her shoes. She used to write wonderful historical romance and then, if you read both parts of her interview, she explains she suffered the tragic and sudden loss of her husband and because of that turned more towards women’s fiction. Something like that can very well turn your writing. But it sounds like after a four year absence, she is returning to the style she used to write.


  • Tara Marie
    July 17
    12:47 pm

    Kristie completely stole my thunder. So, I say ditto.

    It may be splitting hairs, but she didn’t say erotic romance shouldn’t be part of “romance” she said erotica, which is continually being debated in romance circles. Aren’t Erotica and Erotic Romance two different genres?


  • Anonymous
    July 17
    9:16 pm

    Well… I read what Jill had to say and cringed. I thought, “oh shit, not again.” Maybe she just didn’t think about what she was saying?

    All things change and yet they stay the same. Every story rehashes some theme or another and it is the author’s voice I am reading for.

    Here is the real question, “Is it the author’s voice that changes? Or am I, the reader, evolving into something else?”

    A year ago I was reading erotic romances almost exclusively, but now not so much. When I started to read romances (way back when…), I read one style, now I read other stuff. Is that a function of the writers, the publishing business or simply me?

    I like to think it is me.



  • Shannon
    July 18
    9:02 pm

    as someone who reads voraciously in a lot of genres and spends too much time on the Internet, it always makes me roll my eyes when authors start complaining about their genre’s decline in one form or another. I certainly haven’t seen evidence that 75% fewer people are reading romances than they used to on the bookstore shelves or the Internet. In fact, aren’t romances, like, the genre that sells the most, period? Or am I just making that statistic up.


  • Kate R
    July 20
    2:15 am

    milady, one can only hope.
    It’s been days and it’s too hot.

    Shannon, you know what’s really sad? It didn’t even occur to me that she was tossing out fictional statistic but oh. Duh.


  • Marianne LaCroix
    July 20
    4:45 am

    Oh lord, we sex peddler authors are so evil as to steal readers from romance to the dark side (aka erotica–which is really erotic romance).

    Man, I am tired of reading uninformed opinions. Do these authors actually read a few erotic romances before they say things like this? I doubt it.

    It is a shame, I used to buy her historials once upon a time.

    I can see that RWA next week is going to be fu. It used to be NY pubbed vs. epubbed, not it seems a change is in motion, traditional romance vs erotic romance.

    Please, there is an audience for everything.


  • Marianne LaCroix
    July 20
    4:46 am

    That “fu” is supposed to be “fun” not some curse phrase. LOL


  • Cara North
    August 8
    3:56 pm

    Wow. This is my first visit to this blog but I find it very interesting so I am marking it as a fav to read. LOL
    I hope she meant erotica and not erotic romance. It is tough to say EXACTLY what you mean in an interview if you do not have the questions ahead of time to think about your responses, and all of the ways they can be misconstrued in writing. But even if she did mean it. I think it would be harder on her if readers were looking at buying both an erotic romance and a mainstream, readers are really who make the deciding votes here. Not authors. So aside from where I invest my money on books that I want to read-and I do cut out authors who talk trash about ANY other genre becasue it is just mean and writers have enough critics to be mean to each other, too, is in my opinion sensless.
    Great topic and interesting posts!


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