Home > Books, Love, Nerd, Relationships, The Monster's Daughter, Writing > A reader’s expectations, or: “None romance! NONE!”

A reader’s expectations, or: “None romance! NONE!”

Beloved readers,

The Monster’s Daughter is not paranormal romance.

Until yesterday, I failed to understand why people would buy my first novel expecting romance. After all, nothing in the title, cover, nor description hints at romance. See the description:

Ginny Connors doesn’t believe in vampires. There’s totally a rational reason her dad is a lot more bloodthirsty and a lot less interested in food than he used to be. Still, she hangs a cross on her bedroom door. Just in case. 

When Ginny discovers people aren’t the guests but the main course at her father’s New Year party, she wishes she could save the day with garlic pancakes. Instead, she must face the limits of her daydreams, and attempt to stop the monster her father has become.

Vampires: check. Dads: check. Daydreams: check. All present. Romance, though? Romantic love? Smoochie-face? Gaga-eyes? Infatuation? These guys had other places to be.

Likewise, the word “romance” fails to occur a single time in the book’s reader-generated tags on Amazon. There’s plenty of love in the book, to be sure, some of which is between the protagonist and her long-time boyfriend, but none of it is the hopeful, longing sort that comes with the question of whether two characters will even be given a chance to love.

I was perplexed why anyone would expect that from my novel. Nothing promised it. Nothing so much as hinted at it. Sure, Twilight features both vampires and angsty pursuit of paranormal love, but that alone didn’t seem like enough.

Yesterday I hunted for some new YA paranormal books to read. I skipped past the first couple, deciding they were too romance-y for me. Then I skipped past a couple more. Another dozen more. And, after that, another dozen more.

By the time I’d scanned through about thirty, I was no longer confused about why folks check out The Monster’s Daughter expecting a romantic ride. At long last, it was clear:

Readers’ expectations aren’t being set by my book, but by the other, seemingly similar books they’re reading.

In 2004, I wrote a coming of age novel involving vampires, having no idea sparkly vampires would soon take over the YA scene. Now as then, I am most fascinated by the love people learn to have for themselves, and by the moments that illuminate their growing comprehension that they are themselves worthy of their own love.

That’s the kind of love about which I most want to read. It’s the kind about which I wrote in The Monster’s Daughter. Not romantic love.

Yet, as always, understanding a thing–like why other readers expect what they do–makes acceptance easier. I get it now. Still, a small part of me will probably continue to toy with the idea of starting the book’s description with “NONE ROMANCE HERE! NONE!

Most the rest of me will keep working on new novels, some of which will involve romance. Heck, my second novel, despite my outlines and wishes, involves some romance. (Those pesky characters had to go and develop minds of their own. Curse them!) It will be too much smoochiness for some readers and not nearly enough for others, but all these considerations are apart from the act of creation.

I cannot make people, readers or otherwise, expect differently than they are wont. What I can do is dream up more of the kinds of stories I want to read and keep writing them, regardless of who else will or will not read them.

Yeah, I’ll stick with that.

With entirely non-smoochy love,

— Your paranormal-not-romance-writing closet monster

  1. Running from Hell with El
    February 4, 2013 at 5:50 am

    Giggle giggle giggle. And sharing your frustration, sister!! Sheesh!

    • February 4, 2013 at 6:06 am

      I just read a tweet including an Oscar Wilde quote that’s spot-on: “If you’re going to tell people the truth, you better make them laugh; otherwise they’ ll kill you.” Ayup. 😀

  2. February 4, 2013 at 6:01 am

    I am beginning to think teenage girls will not fall in love with anyone who isn’t a vampire.

  3. February 4, 2013 at 6:26 am

    I can’t (or can’t yet) write a decent sex scene, therefore my current project may have none of that. New genre: good stories without the promise of sex. 😉 .

    • February 5, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      Oh, man. I got to a point in TMD where there was going to be sex, regardless of what I did or did not want. I cannot begin to express how bizarre that was. Someday, there will probably be a scene where I have to step a little more firmly into that ground . . . but for now, I am simply glad it is not today!

  4. February 4, 2013 at 6:54 am

    People are filled with the Breaking Dawn kind of romance between vampires type of drivel. That’s what they were expecting. Apparently they were expecting to have Ginny turn her boyfriend into a vampire too and live happily ever after forever. You write what you need to write. Your blurb on Amazon didn’t promise romance; it talked about the relationship between Ginny and her father, and it delivered. You did nothing wrong. People have preconceived ideas about vampire stories that involve romance. Tant pis pour eux, as the French say. You rock, Deborah.

    • February 5, 2013 at 5:34 pm

      I seriously want to hug you for this comment. I don’t even know what else to say, I love it that much. I guess I’ll just stick to this, the tried and true: THANK YOU.

  5. February 4, 2013 at 7:54 am

    Deb, I haven’t read this post yet, but I just read a NY times article that might help you with your allergy issue: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/02/business/auvi-q-challenges-epipen-with-a-new-shape-and-size.html?ref=health

    This sounds a bit like spam, I realize. But it isn’t!

    • February 5, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      Haha, if it didn’t come with your name attached, I might have thought it that! Since it came from you, I actually read it with great interest. Do you know that when my epipen was prescribed, I wasn’t actually instructed how to use it? “Just ask the pharmacist!” Then I asked the pharmacist, whose description of its complexity sounded waaaay off-base. I ultimately decided I’d just stab it into my leg like I’d seen in the movies if need be. Fortunately, I talked to my new doctor, who gave me a quick demo. Now I’m just trying to get in the habit of making sure it’s with me at all times, regardless of its shape!

      • February 5, 2013 at 5:41 pm

        Good luck with it — glad your persistence paid off and you learned what to do! Oy vey — I can’t believe someone would prescribe one for you without teaching you what to do with it.

  6. February 4, 2013 at 8:28 am

    It’s a crazy, mixed-up world, Deborah. Just go with it.

  7. February 4, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Funny! As usual, much love to you (non-smoochy, of course).

    • February 5, 2013 at 6:19 pm

      I’ve been reluctant to write anything that might even possibly be read as condemnation of readers, but once I understood what was going on . . . it was easy to write out these questions in a non-condemnatory way. 🙂

  8. February 4, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    smoochy, bleech
    sparkly, bleech
    angst ridden, smooch, sparkly….triple bleech

    My, what is a teenage girl to do if she wants to read something other than romantic tales that are nothing more than watered down versions of bodice rippers.

    I say my friend, write what is in your heart. Despite all the evidence there is an audience for well written stories.

    • February 5, 2013 at 6:24 pm

      Hear, hear to “triple blech”! Even when I was younger, that was never what I was after. My ideal vampire story was The Silver Kiss, which was short, beautiful and mostly not-romantic. That’s part of why I’m still having such a hard time wrapping my mind around the modern-day smoochy vampire. I don’t begrudge anyone that, but I do wish it weren’t the expectation of all vampires!

      Fifteen-year-old me would have been pretty miserable trying to read today’s YA lit. I’m glad I grew up in the 80s and early 90s, when . . . this was not happening.

      Thank you for your encouragement. ♥

  9. February 5, 2013 at 5:30 am

    Smoochie-face has never been my strong suit. Not nearly lovey dovey enough 🙂 It is interesting how readers will view the book their own way regardless!

    • February 5, 2013 at 6:29 pm

      What’s funny to me is that I see certain patterns in day to day interactions, but don’t figure out how to apply them to new contexts! If I’d applied everything I learned from the rest of my life to writing, well . . . gosh, I guess I’d be a different person altogether. :p

  1. February 4, 2013 at 7:19 am

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