Monday, September 10, 2007

What Category are You?

On Saturday, I went to a workshop for writers sponsored by the Toronto chapter of Romance Writers of America.

I had to take the 7:30 a.m. bus. There were a lot of other people on the bus, but only one held any fascination for me. She was in the seat directly in front of me. I'd been looking elsewhere when she sat down and all I could see was the back of her head. An amazing feat of hair architecture. Before seeing that, I'd assumed that teasing hair to such an extent had died and was not mourned. I was wrong. While the bus navigated the bumps on local roads, the hands of the woman in front of me were busy. One held a small mirror and the other one was used to apply makeup. I recognized some of the tools she used but not all of them - there were so many. Thirty-five minutes later she appeared to be finished and all her tools had clinked back into the box. Next came an assortment of pill bottles. She swallowed ten different pills then settled back in her seat, perhaps to gain energy for what would happen next.

As the bus arrived at the terminal, she popped out of her seat like a Jill from a box, and pushed her way to the front door. I never did see her face. Was she going to a job interview, or the film festival, or was she an alien among us? Only the shadow knows.

The workshop itself was good and the presenter was very professional (aside from a few personal digressions that were a tad on the long side) and interesting. Since I arrived after she started to talk, I had to sit at the back of a the room. That usually means that any power point presentations will be impossible for me to read, but her slides were clear, large and readable.

There were about 80 women in the room and one man, who of course received special mention. I didn't have a choice of where to sit and my table companions seemed to know each other very well. They weren't the least bit interested in adding to their list of acquaintances. Too bad.

At lunch time I spoke briefly to the women at the table behind me. They were both working on romance novels and they asked me what I was writing. Mainstream or literary I answered. What's that? What indeed. I tried to explain and probably didn't do a good job because I'm not sure how to define it, except to say that it isn't genre fiction.

It did make me think about the way that books are slotted into categories. Romance has a lot of subdivisions - romance Harlequin style, bodice rippers, erotic romance, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, fantasy romance (okay, maybe all romance is fantasy to some extent) perhaps there is even science-fiction romance.

When the presenter mentioned one famous writer of horror, Stephen King, and asked how many of us had read his fiction, only about 5 of the people there raised their hands, and I was one of them. That startled me. I do read genre/category/ call-it-what-you-will fiction of many different types as well as reading 'fine' or literary work. I like to think I'm an omnivorous reader, though others might say I'm a print addict. Each to their own addiction.

What category are you?


Jennifer Ross said...

There are no bodice rippers in romance anymore. !!

And we know what category I am, so maybe my taste is similar to others in that room. I don't read Stephen King because he's scary. And very good, which only makes it worse. When my son was young I tried to get him interested in reading. I let him pick any book he wanted and I would read it to him. It was a 'horror for kids' by Frank N. Stein or something like that (can't be too scary, I reasoned). I STILL have nightmares to this day, I think it was a takeoff on Pet Sematary by Stephen King, but I'm not sure since of course I never read Pet Sematary.

And let us remember, I still feel a bit horrified whenever I think of warm chocolate in a car . . .

Susan said...

I think you mean R.L. Stine, Jenn, lol. Pretty awful stuff.

What category am I? I like to think literary, non-genre fiction, like yourself Diane, although I've written a couple of romance short stories and have plans for a couple of longer romances...