Tuesday, May 04, 2010
An Open Letter to Oprah
Now that you are winding down your talk show, I think it might be a good time for you to rethink your bias against romance and their authors. Seriously, if you can devote an entire show to Naomi Campbell and her cellphone throwing antics, and a show on the porn industry, I think that you can feature the romance publishing industry on your show. I think that if you polled your audience, you would find that at least half of them have either read a romance or are serious readers of romance.
I believe that you once said that romance novels promote unreal expectations or an unreal view of the world and relationships. I'm not sure if you've ever really read a romance novel or if you read them years ago in your youth, but I think that you will find that romance novels are actually enpowering to women which is exactly what your show does as well. Yes, they promote a happy ending, that it is possible to have a healthy relationship with a member of the opposite sex (or the same sex). What is wrong with that? And the couples in romances have to work for their happy ending, through misunderstandings and barriers both internal and external. The heroines in romance novels aren't waiting around for a hero to show up either. Most heroines have high-powered jobs, or they're single mothers trying to raise their children in a confusing world. When the hero shows up, often the heroine is not interested, her life is full enough. I would bet you that women who read romance novels have healthier sex lives than women who don't.
Some people complain that romances are just female fantasies, but what's wrong with that? Isn't the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issues male fantasy, Playboy, Porn for that matter? After a hard day working or taking care of the kids, reading a romance takes you away for an hour or two into a different era or a different world and at least gives you a satisfied happy feeling when you are done.
Women who read romance are also highly educated, they have college degrees and have high-powered jobs. They are not just bored housewives with nothing else to do. The same could be said for the women who write them. Romance authors are lawyers, doctors, they have PhD's (Hope Tarr), some of them are even tenured professors of Shakespeare (Eloisa James). 49% of all paperbacks sold in the United States are romance novels. And women who read romance also read widely in other genres. We read non-fiction, literary fiction, historical fiction, mysteries, classsic novels. Women also buy most of the books out there, which I'm sure you've found out from your Oprah picks. That is why many male authors who write thrillers etc. are now courting the women who read romance. It is not uncommon to find authors like James Patterson and Barry Eisler at the RT Conventions or at the annual RWA conference.
Romance has exploded, there are Historical Romances, LGBT romances, African-American romances, Paranormal Romances. In fact, Brenda Jackson, an African-American romance author who writes for Harlequin/Silhouette is so popular that she has an annnual cruise for her fans. There are Inspirational Romances and Erotic Romances. Why was Twilight so popular? Yes, it had Vampires but at its core it was a romance, the love story of Bella and Edward that captivated so many readers.
Here is what I propose Oprah. You invite some of the top names in romance including Susan Elizabeth Phillips (who lives in Chicago), Heather Graham, Suzanne Brockmann, Jayne Ann Krentz, Julia Quinn, Eloisa and Nora Roberts to be on your show. Perhaps feature some footage from RT and RWA. Perhaps due a seperate feature on the Multicultural authors like Sandra Kitt, and Caridad Piniero as well as the paranormal authors etc. I have a feeling it would be one of your highest rated shows.
I know that you are open minded Oprah, so I would ask you to open your mind to the romance publishing industry before your show takes its final bow.