Susan Mallery Speaks to Librarians about the Appeal of Romance
New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery was asked to speak this summer at the American Library Association national conference in Anaheim, California, on a panel called “Isn’t It Romantic?” Mallery’s latest book, SUMMER NIGHTS (Fool’s Gold book 8) is dedicated to librarians who have done so much to introduce readers to her books. This is the speech she prepared.
The appeal in romance is that our books offer readers a celebration of community. Romances are all about connecting. Sure the boy-meets-girl part is fun and exciting, but often what really brings a reader back again and again are the connections made within the novel.
Most romances happen in a larger context of relationships. Families and friends play an important role. We want to experience falling in love with a hunky guy, but we also want a sense of belonging. The most popular books feature a cast of usually likeable, sometimes annoying, generally realistic characters who are amazingly like people we know. Or people we get on an emotional level.
These other characters, sometimes seemingly unimportant, can be the glue that holds our books together. Our hero and heroine are revealed through their relationships with secondary characters. The gruff solitary man who unexpectedly cares for a wounded puppy wins our heart forever. The exhausted single mother staying up until midnight to frost cupcakes for her son's first grade class reminds us of ourselves. While the romance is central to the story and the reason we think we read "those kind of books" I believe the real truth is we love the sense of community a romance brings to the table. The sexy guy on the cover draws us in, but the heroine's relationship with her sarcastic best friend turns out to be just as satisfying and meaningful.
The majority of romance readers are women. Women are usually the keepers of relationships in their lives and the lives of those around them. We are the ones who maintain the friendships, remember birthdays, make sure each of our children has a moment to feel special. We can spend a weekend with our girlfriends and when we get home, still think of something we could have told them. When I travel to a writers’ conference and hang out with my writer friends for days, then return home and get a call from one of them, my husband can't believe there's anything left to say. I've tried to explain there's always more to talk about but he just shakes his head.