Entertainment Weekly says that the "happily ever after" genre is taking on Trump by joining the resistance. I'm distressed to learn that some of my colleagues are repeating the mistake made by the entertainment industry. Like actors, actresses and comedians, writers are free to have political opinions. Among friends and family, or at a political gathering held by folks of a particular leaning, expressing political opinion is perfectly acceptable. Conning your audience into buying one thing and selling them another is a lie and liars deserve to lose.
The article notes that Lauren Billings, who writes with Christina Hobbs as Christina Lauren, responded to readers who reject mixing romance with politics by saying, "we share our opinions in our books in every word we write." If that's true, before you ever buy one of their books, you should consider that these writers aren't channeling their characters, they're not telling you the story you bought, they're feeding you their personal beliefs and ideology. Is that what they marketed? Is that what readers bought? No, it's not. With all due respect to Ms. Billings, Ms. Hobbs and every other romance author on the planet, readers don't give a darling damn about what you think or feel or believe.
Readers buy romance to crawl inside the heads and hearts and souls of the hero and heroine. A good writer often pens thoughts she'd never have and describes acts she'd never perform. How does the writer do that if "every word she writes" contains her opinions? She can't. An author feeding her opinions through the mouths of her characters is telling her story - not the tale the readers bought. A writer who gives in to ego to that extent echos the errors of entertainers. There is a reason that movie theaters are empty. Romance writers who feed readers stories with political overtones are herding romance to a place where shelves stay full.
The EW piece commits the same mistake made by reporters, prognosticators, actors and entertainers. It shows a fundamental misunderstanding of why Americans back President Trump. The President is neither anti-gay nor anti-woman and neither are the hordes of Americans who voted for him. Many Trump supporters aren't particularly conservative. What unites ALL Trump supporters is not a political party. In fact, it is the exact opposite of a political anything. Trump supporters are tired of politicians, labels and political correctness. America voted Trump into office to elect a businessman who would run the government like a company. Some businessmen want to make and sell a better car or a better thermostat. Trump wants to make and sell a better America - not better for Democrats or Republicans, or for liberals or conservatives - but better for the vast majority whose lives and beliefs mix a little from all of those things to create the most unique thing on Earth: an American.
Writers should disclaim and denounce the EW article and everything it contains and advocates. I disclaim it and I surely denounce it. Romance writers should write because they want to tell stories where people face obstacles, triumph over tragedy and end up happily ever after. Those stories should be the character's stories, told through the eyes and the hearts and the minds of the characters, not the authors. A writer who sells a love story but delivers something else has betrayed her readers. That writer will not inspire that reader to do anything but avoid her work in the future.
Life is full of problems and despair and the Great Duck knows - it's far too full of politics these days. Anyone who wants to experience any of those things can turn on a number of 24-hour news channels. People don't go to a movie to hear an actor mouth lines filled with political drivel. People don't turn on a comic's special or late night program to hear him talk abut how much he hates Trump. And people don't read a romance novel to RESIST anything. Romance is about indulging senses and emotions. It's about love and triumph and living through a roller coaster ride that ends at a happy forever.
People don't read romance to get some writer's take on politics or her opinion on the President. So, the EW piece has it wrong - it's not the romance authors who should join the resistance movement. Romance readers should RESIST any writer whose product description or blurb describes a love story but tells a thinly-veiled political allegory. So, how to RESIST being deceived by a writer, especially one you enjoyed before? Here's how - RCW - return, complain and warn.
Whether you bought it in Kindle or in Paper, return any book you were conned into buying. Complain to the seller. Email Amazon or Apple or Barnes and Noble or your neighborhood bookstore. Email the big publisher. Explain that you were the victim of a bait and switch that you feel was a deceptive act by the writer, the publisher and the seller. Explain that you expect a clear warning about any romance novel containing political opinion, references or overtones. And warn your fellow readers by posting a review on the seller's website, but don't stop there. Follow up by tweeting and posting on any board or forum where you interact with other readers.
Are authors, actors, comedians, singers or athletes allowed to be political? Absolutely. They can write a political book, give a speech at a rally or appear on an opinion talk show. But they must learn to separate their politics from their work because the audience is not paying to support their politics.
Politics is politics and romance is romance. Any author's effort to combine the two should be met with reader resistance. Resist with your purse, your email, your reviews, your boards or forums, and your Facebook and Twitter. Unless there is a clear posted warning that the books contains a political point of view, all readers should be able to buy and enjoy romance novels by all writers. Any writer who believes otherwise can be taught that they are wrong and it is the readers' job to administer the lesson. Money talks and reviews and social media make fine megaphones.