I've just been reading an excellent post over on Sarah Duncan's blog (http://sarahduncansblog.blogspot.com/) about individual tastes in reading, and why some people think it's shameful to admit to liking 'certain types' of book. It's so true - I know a lot of people look down their noses at anything that could be classified as 'light' fiction - whether it's romantic, or just easy beach-reading stories, or 'chick-lit' ... my books have been referred to in all those ways, and sometimes accompanied by a definite sneer!
Coincidentally, I mentioned this at the talk I gave on Monday. By the way, it was very successful, thank you to those of you who asked, and who wished me luck! I was staggered by the size of the audience ... we worked out that there were over 160 people there - there weren't enough chairs in the hall so about a dozen were standing in the aisles! Don't get too excited, they weren't just there to hear my pearls of wisdom (!) - it was a meeting of a new U3A group and obviously they had other business to attend to at their meeting, but as I was their first 'professional speaker' (as I was introduced ... no pressure there, then!), it was very rewarding for me!
I often bring up this subject in talks: the fact is that most of the very successful authors out there write genre fiction (romance, crime, paranormal, chick-lit etc) rather than 'literary fiction'. And I always point out that 'literary fiction' is a very new concept (and actually I think the term is meaningless!). The New York Times apparently published an article a while back in which it was pointed out that the distinction between highbrow and lowbrow fiction has only recently been invented, and that in fact, Charles Dicken wrote crime novels and Jane Austen wrote chick lit. Nobody sneers at them, do they! And their novels are certainly considered 'worthy'.
I write the type of books I do because they're what come naturally to me - what (I hope) I'm good at. If anybody ever asked me (as I once read that another author was asked) why I don't write something 'better', I'd find it hard not to say that it was an incredibly rude question! - but I'd also have to say that I write the best books I can ... maybe they're not 'good' enough for some people, but presumably those people won't buy them or read them. And my consolation is that, if they're 'good' enough for an editor to have accepted them for publication, then that's good enough for me!
Because a book is easy to read, it doesn't mean it's easy to write. If that were true, we wouldn't have such brilliant books published for children who are only just learning to read. I had a lovely message on my Olivia Ryan website today from a 19 year old girl who has reading and writing difficulties, had never read books before, but had read my 'Tales From' books and enjoyed them so much, she wanted to know if I'd written any more books. Of course, I told her about my Sheila Norton books! - but her message meant so much to me, because surely this is what it's all about: the enjoyment of reading.
And of course, the enjoyment of writing, too. I'm having a good time working on my attempt at a serial ... a steep learning curve, but I think I'm finally getting the hang of it! I'll keep you posted. And next time, I'll also update you all on how my lovely little grandson Noah is progressing!
Happy writing ... and reading! (whatever you enjoy).