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The Harpy Revisited

The response to yesterday’s post on the Harpy was overwhelming.  I received lots of e-mails and messages, and the comments section here was very active. Reactions came for two reasons.  One, had to do with the obvious disrespect toward genre fiction, specifically romance, and the second had to do with Harpy’s lack of manners.

As far as her manners, there’s no stopping people from being who they are, but that doesn’t mean they should get a free pass.  I hope Harpy realized she’d offended me; maybe she won’t do it to someone else, but chances are she will.  As far as trashing what I write, it wouldn’t matter what the genre.  She has in her head that only certain types of books are good, or real, as she said, and that’s just wrong.  Going back to the oral traditions of ancient cultures, stories were meant to entertain.  It doesn’t mean there can’t be a lesson or deeper meaning, but looking at a story from the ancients–The Odyssey, for example–the adventures of Odysseus were filled with war, subterfuge, murder, sex and drugs.  It wasn’t really about the lesson.

The idea that genre fiction shouldn’t be counted as real, isn’t just insulting, it’s illogical.

Looking at the comments, writers, both published and not, said they’d heard the same comment numerous times.  It didn’t matter if someone wrote romance, fantasy, erotic romance, sci-fi, mystery, YA or children’s books, someone, somewhere dumped on them for it.  Both Kristan Higgins and JoAnn Ross, multi-published, award-winning, bestselling authors (whose comments appeared in yesterday’s string) are questioned by people like the Harpy.

So, whatever you write or read, know that somewhere, someone doesn’t approve.  It could be a lit snob who thinks the only thing of value is the latest critically-acclaimed memoir, or a fanatic who thinks certain books should be banned.  Everyone has an opinion, but in the end, we have to write and read what matters most to us.

My friend Jolyse Barnett left a comment yesterday and it ended with a single, profound statement: “Believe in yourself, and write what you love. Nothing’s more real than that.”

There’s power in the truth  and power in numbers.  Posts similar to yesterday’s have been done before, and will likely be done again by writers facing harpies of their own. They should remember the facts and remember this: genre fiction keeps people entertained; it makes people happy and that’s as real as it gets.

Oh, and did I mention that I had so many comments yesterday, I feel the need to give away another book bundle today?  Historical romances this time by Eloisa James, Vicky Dreiling, and Kieran Kramer.

(Contest limited to residents of the US and Canada and will close on 8/18/2011 at 6pm EDT.)