Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Quick! Check! Is it Dead Yet???

Hmm. Sounds like a line from a sci-fi story where the hero/heroine shoots a laser beam at an alien creature, doesn't it? I'm actually wondering these days about which genres seem to be on the wane.

Lately, I've read some commentary about the sales of historicals being slow. This makes me sad but I keep telling myself this has happened before. Since my first foray into romance with The Flame and The Flower, I've loved historicals. Loved them so much, I spent decade in research and writing regency set historicals. I adore them and have Kathleen Woodiwiss, Johanna Lindsey, Lisa Kleypas, Catherine Coulter, and Jayne Ann Krentz (w/a Amanda Quick) to thank for their inspiration. Like lots of genres, popularity ebbs and flows but I would sure hate to see these genres die out.

This makes me wonder if it isn't up to writers to reinvent and manipulate these well loved genres. Maybe we should start experimenting and finding ways to add interest to repeated themes involving the eras of arranged marriages, rogues, rakes, libertines, and debutantes experiencing their "coming out". My first published novel was a regency historical. Granted, it was waaaay too hot to be considered traditional in any way and on September 16, Resplendence Publishing will release Made for Mischief an erotic regency. After reading that historicals are slowing down, I'm a little alarmed and anxious to see how it is received. I DID push the envelope with this one by making it erotic and there are lots of erotic romance lovers out there. Maybe they will WANT a little history with their erotica?

Lately, I write more contemporary stories but my love of historical work remains. The melding of real history, the beauty of the era, along with the sheer romance is really hard to beat in my book.

Lots of work available melds sci-fi with romance, history with romance, and horror with romance. Is that what keeps our romance selections fresh and new? I don't know but it seems to me that authors are forever trying to find new and inventive ways in which to present their stories. This is a good thing. Why not mix adventure with lust or neat futuristic weapons with passion?

What genres do you see as slow or dying? Did you once love a genre but then quickly fall "out of love" with it? What can authors do to keep readers coming back for more?

24 comments:

Anny Cook said...

I think one of the primary problems with historical is that they seem to concentrate on a narrow historical period. And when they breakout from that, they seem to try to cram too much "history" into the story rather than letting the characters reveal the place and setting.

One of my all time favorite books is Morning Glory by LaVryle Spencer. It's a wonderful historical set in the 30s in the south. Excellent.

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

According to the romance buyer for Borders Book Group (Borders and Waldenbooks stores) Paranormal is still number one and still growing. The second is what she called "soft" romance--small towns, mostly, muti-generational issues, but they can still be sexy. She also said suspense continues to be strong. But the big surprise? She swears historicals are on the rise again, making a good, steady comeback.

Kelley Nyrae said...

I don't read too many historicals. I should do that more often. I heard that at RWA they said contemporary is slowing. Not sure about that though.

Regina Carlysle said...

I agree with you about that Anny. Historicals that cram too much info can be a drag on the story,I think. It's a fine line.

Oh MY. We like a lot of the same books. Morning Glory was wonderful. So was Hummingbird. Did you ever read that one? Those were two of her best, I think. Funny about Hummingbird. She sent that one EVERYWHERE and no one would buy it. The story goes, she stuck it in her closest and eventually she sold something else and the pub came back and bought Hummingbird.

Regina Carlysle said...

Love hearing that about historicals, Cindy. I think they tend to go down then climb back up. Still, we need to push the envelope on those and make them even more interesting. Adding paranormal elements could be fun.

Regina Carlysle said...

Hey Kell! I can't see contemps ever going away completely though. Thank goodness, since that's what most of us write.

Tess MacKall said...

I've heard that about historicals, but not so sure I believe it. Hell, Kathleen Woodiwiss pretty much put us all on the map.

I honestly believe you are correct though in that the authors can help a dying genre by reinventing it.

Historicals tend to be very sweeping and purple prosey. Some due to the language of the time and certainly the customs, but the writing style seems to need to change somewhat--at least for me.

Contemporary sales have been lagging from what I understand and paranormals are leveling off. Is that a trend? Who knows. lol

Nightingale said...

I love to read historical novels. I'd hate to see the supply dwindle. I was very happy with Cindy's comment that paranormal is still growing as that's what I write and have a vampire story coming soon from The Wild Rose Press. Interesting and thought provoking post.

Renee DeMarcus said...

Hi!

I love historicals. Maybe interest will wane, but I can't imagine historicals never being a force in romance. And an erotic historical? Yummy!

I think the days of historicals containing chapter upon chapter of background and flowery prose may be gone, but good riddance. Bring on the sexy new historicals with fresh voices!

Renee

Toni V.S. said...

Only a day ago, I was told by an agent that vampire stories are "on the way out," yet both Linda Nightingale and I have vampire short stories coming out soon from The Wild Rose Press. Can it be they're losing favor with agencies but are still loved by the reading public? And which one will influence whether they continue on in popularity or not? If we want them but they aren't there, what do we do?

Dakota Rebel said...

OMG. I want to send you a present! I don't know if it was just a coincidence that I happened to be reading your blog when inspiration hit me or if it was due to you and your words. But seriously, email me at dakota.rebel @ hotmail.com (no spaces).

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

XoXoXo
Dakota Rebel

Regina Carlysle said...

I've heard that about vampire tales for several months but tell it to J.R. Ward. She's still doing them and they rock. I think we should just keep writing what we love and forget what the EXPERTS say. Their take is like the weather...constantly changing.

Regina Carlysle said...

I've gotcha Tess on the flowery language. The problem is that was the way they really talked. To me that's part of the beauty of historicals BUT, writers of the genre need fresh plot lines. They can't ALL be about the hero needing marriage for babies. It was true in those days but surely we can come up with fresh stuff.

Regina Carlysle said...

Private email coming right up, Dakota.

Susan Macatee said...

I love historical romances and hope they'll never die, but I think writing one with a twist always helps. I've combined paranormal with my historicals. I have one vampire story set during the Civil War out and a time travel upcoming. I'm also working on another vampire story as well as a ghost story set during the same time period. I do have two historicals that aren't paranormal, but in both cases the heroines are our of the ordinary for the genre. One's a woman soldier who disguises herself as a man to fight in the Civil War, the other's a young adult story, where the heroine decides to become a doctor.

I think as long as we can make them fresh, historical romances can prevail.

Regina Carlysle said...

I think you're on to something, Susan. Writer friends (and readers) seem to like my cowboys but yet, paranormal is hot too. So in my newest I'm writing a cowboy who is a wolf...yeah, yeah, I did the whole eye roll thing. But once I figured how these guys DON'T eat their profits, I was rolling with it. Also added a plus sized heroine just for fun.

Sooo, I'm thinking we can take the standard type h/h and story, add other elements that are hot and can come up with something completely new. I remember the old Linda Lael Vampire stories. They were historical. What an interesting concept. One story involved the Civil War battlefields. A neat take on a historical.

SFWriter said...

I don't think any genre will ever really die. It might change its name, it might end up grouped elsewhere, who knows, but dying out? No way.

It's all in the story and in the telling. It's in the art and in the craft of the writer. If you can tell it, they will read (and if we don't believe that, we might as well hide under our pillows and eat worms).

So what's your next shiniest craziest idea? Maybe it's also the next biggest fad? Just go for it!

Masha Holl

Mona Risk said...

Historicals were the first books I read. Kathleen Woodiwiss, Johanna Lindsey, Heather Graham, Catherine Coulter. And the regencies of Stephanie Laurens. I still have them all. But I never tried to write historicals. I write romantic suspense, and medical romance, so I shifted to reading contemporary and med romances. I'm not a paranomal person, unless they are written by friends.

Marguerite Arotin said...

I've actually heard that about historical so many times over the years. But that hasn't stopped me from reading them ;-). Oh and I loved the Linda Lael Miller Vampire tales. Heck, I just love anything she writes. But when it comes to writing, personally, I never let the market lead me. I write where my inspiration leads me. Current project is a science fiction YA romance with an alien princess heroine and a smart teenage boy hero who wants to be a rocket scientist when he grows up. Now I know YA fantasy & paranormal is hot, not sure it's as hot for sci-fi. But you know what? I'm really writing this one for my son, who complained that I never write anything for him ;-). So if I sell it, that's cool. If the only one who reads it and loves it is my seven year old son, then that's fine by me too ;-).

jean hart stewart said...

Love historicals and always have. I'd truly hate to see them die out. Seems to me all genres waz and wane though. I've got a couple of very sexy regencies I can't place. Maybe Resplendence? Jean

Regina Carlysle said...

Try Resplendence, Jean. I've liked working with them.

Anne Rainey said...

the genre I miss is the steamy contemps. Not erotic contemps, and not sensual, but steamy. Lori Foster is a good example of an author who used to write a lot of steamy contemps (Buckhorn Bros. Series), but there's just not many authors out there doing them right now. And if they are, then they're cutesy funny, and that's not the same.

Helen Hardt said...

I love historicals, too. The good news is, just recently, at RWA Nationals, the buzz was that publishers are looking for HOT historicals. I heard this from St. Martins, Kensington, Harlequin, and Sourcebooks. So get out a glass of wine and work on steaming up your historical WIPs, ladies!

Helen
www.helensheroes.blogspot.com

Regina Carlysle said...

You're right about that Helen. The hotter the better. My Sept. release is a regency erotica. I'm anxious to see how it's received. Yep...spice em up and send em out.