Sunday, April 29, 2007

It's time to honk

Linnea, Susan, Cindy, and yours truly (as I like to sign off some of Insufficient Mating Material's blogs) are at the Romantic Times Booklovers' convention in Houston Texas.

Linnea organized an Intergalactic Bar and Grille party for readers, where ten authors of science-fiction romance did a spaced out version of wheel of fortune, and the house was packed. Not only that, those who came were ready and able to answer great (and not-to-challenging) questions about our books.

Janet Miller, Barbara Karmazin, Isabo Kelly, Susan Grant, Linnea Sinclair, Susan Kearney, Evangeline Anderson, Deidre Knight, Colby Hodge, and Stacey Klemstein (and I) put together thee or four gravity defying questions and a few fun prizes.

Susan Kearney, Susan Grant, PC Cast, Anne Groel, Deidre Knight, Colby Hodge, and yours truly were on Linnea's Starships and Swordfights panel workshop. Susan Kearney made a huge impression on the room (I hope!) when she told readers and writers that it is time science fiction romance came out from under the wing of paranormal... time science fiction romance lovers stood up to be counted.

The reason I am blogging today about what Susan said is that I had a jaw dropping conversation with a powerful gentleman (industry strength, not cover model) during the massive BookFair run by Katy Books in the Imperial Ballroom.

In effect, there seems to be a perception in some parts that there is a literary glass ceiling for science fiction romance, and it is in the avian armpit of paranormal. Now there is a mixed metaphor. It makes more sense if you think of paranormal as a big speckled hen with lots of multi-colored chicks.

While I was working on reviving my smile, three readers almost in succession came up to me and expressed their joy over science fiction romance as a genre. That is why I say that it is time to honk if you love aliens and space-faring humans in your romances.

Now, I'm off to look at the space center.


  1. In my humble opinion as someone who interacts with a wide variety of readers and reads tons of books from multiple genres, I think the difference in the two conversations is audience.

    For example, all but one SFR novel that I know of out so far this year are either Highly Sensual or Erotic. Only readers who like Highly Sensual or Erotic AND science fiction are going to read them. This narrows their audience waaaay down. (These readers will usually read Sensual too.) This also means there is only one novel for the readers who prefer Sweet or Sensual (most of whom won't read hotter books). Those readers are going to latch onto her and forget about the other authors. Their perception of the sub-genre is now colored and it will take a phenomenal book to bring them back.

    I know to keep on reading, but most readers are afraid to come back to an author or a sub-genre once their perception of it is colored.

    So, as a reader who interacts with other readers a lot, my opinion is that you should conspire together about how to garner wider appeal as a whole.

    I'm too engrossed in my Paranormal YA to think about this issue as a writer.

  2. HONK!

    I adore the Science Fiction Romance genre. It is a with great satisfaction that I pick up these genre of books and BUY them! Then read to my hearts content of other places, different people and interesting made up languages and cultures.
    I only discovered this genre in the past years and may I say "Write on Ladies, Write ON! (Um, because I need some new books! *g*)

  3. Anonymous1:08 PM EDT

    Hi Rowena! (waves and grins)
    Being one of those apparent rarities hereabouts, i.e. a male reader in the SFR subgenre who will actually admit to the same, I offer my hearty encouragement. Kimber An raises a valid point though, and I can't help but think that it's the crux of this and any other cross-genre movement. Luring readers from the purely Romance and purely SF readerships to one that is varying degrees of both is a truly delicate task. What it amounts to is acclimatizing the readers to a different environment, one alien to them if you'll pardon the pun. In one of her workshops at this very RT, Linnea stressed that even the larger-than-life aspects of the story would have to be accurate. As a reader coming from the SF side, I'm convinced that the SF newcomers to SFR will be very sensitive to that. Regardless of the level of tech, the presentation of it would have to be valid. Another barrier is the nature of the other half of this particular peanutbutter cup: Romance. Every genre has its stereotypes as viewed from another genre, and I can't really think of a more diametrically opposed pair of genres from a public perception viewpoint. Romance does not necessarily beget ravenous hot sex, but that's very likely the pre-existing perception, at least coming from the SF direction. Again, the burden falls on the writers to ensure that what intimacy is shown is appropriate for both the characters and the storyline. I'm regrettably somewhat thinly read just yet in SFR, even more so in the paranormal realm, but I ::am:: getting acclimated nonetheless and I haven't been disappointed in the books that I've read so far. If anything, I think this new subgenre will have the long-term effect of honing its writers to a keener edge than if they were writing to a single genre. If such is the case, perhaps that ceiling could use a label, one that reads, "In the event of SFR, break glass."

  4. Anonymous2:53 PM EDT

    I wouldn't go without my aliens in romance - I love the fact that there are writers out there who are willing to play around with the concept of extraterrestial life that could be compatible with our own.

  5. Honk!

    Even though I started it... Thank you all for your comments and incisive thoughts.

    Linnea wasn't the only one to check out on Monday. I spent the Sunday at NASA and the Houston space center, contemplating the size of astronauts' kidney stones and other scientific facts of life in space.