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the trouble with contemporaries
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willaful



Joined: 02 Jan 2008
Posts: 1557

PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 3:47 pm    Post subject: the trouble with contemporaries Reply with quote

I just finished The Trouble with Valentine's Day by Rachel Gibson, which I quite enjoyed, but it was hard not to notice that it had pretty much the same ending as See Jane Score and I'm in No Mood for Love. Even some of the language in the hero's big "I love you" speech at the end was the same.

I see Susan Elizabeth Phillips using this same ending a lot too, except she tried to fancy it up by making the heroine not BELIEVE the big I love you speech, so something ELSE has to happen, which frankly just makes the whole thing even more tedious, if you ask me.

Is it harder for authors to find a workable conflict in contemporaries? In historicals, there's so much scope for problems that keep the h&h apart - class issues, money, honor, family responsibilities, evil villains, being related by marriage, etc. Is commitment phobia really the only plausible issue we have in the modern world?
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Sandlynn



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 1864
Location: Washington, D.C.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 4:54 pm    Post subject: Re: the trouble with contemporaries Reply with quote

willaful wrote:
Is it harder for authors to find a workable conflict in contemporaries? In historicals, there's so much scope for problems that keep the h&h apart - class issues, money, honor, family responsibilities, evil villains, being related by marriage, etc. Is commitment phobia really the only plausible issue we have in the modern world?


I understand what you're saying but I think these same issues, that you highlight above, can work in a contemporary. They certainly still pop up on the 24 news networks, reality shows, talk shows, gossip sheets, and watercooler conversations, so, although there might be shades of differences, I've got to believe they still affect modern life.
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xina



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 6635
Location: minneapolis

PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 8:06 pm    Post subject: Re: the trouble with contemporaries Reply with quote

.

Is it harder for authors to find a workable conflict in contemporaries? In historicals, there's so much scope for problems that keep the h&h apart - class issues, money, honor, family responsibilities, evil villains, being related by marriage, etc. Is commitment phobia really the only plausible issue we have in the modern world?[/quote]


I had the same problem with contemps when I started reading romance. I think....that we readers may be more discerning or critical of situations in contemps because we live in this time. So often when I'm reading a contemp romance I have a "yeah, right" voice in my mind. There are some authors that do it well, and to be honest, I really don't have a problem with Rachel Gibson, SEP, Susan Andersen or the incredible Jennifer Cruise. However.....in historical romance/fiction, the author can blow just about anthing by me and I am clueless, because I haven't lived in that time, am not a historical expert, and I love, love, so much of historical fiction and romance. The only thing that pulls me out of a historical novel is modern language, but many, many things pull me out of a contemp...because I live in this time. In romance, I let it slide. I've found that some women's fiction is more realistic, if not painfully so. There's a point where you have to give in and read just for the romance. So very much of it is pretend.
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Margaret



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 883

PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 9:41 pm    Post subject: Re: the trouble with contemporaries Reply with quote

Quote:
Is it harder for authors to find a workable conflict in contemporaries?


I think there are many conflicts that exist in the modern world...race, religion, poverty, war, politics etc. The trick may be in writing about these somewhat hot button issues without pi**ing people off. It's easier to write about conflict when it's history and we know the outcome.

An author I admire for her writing of humanitarian aid is Olivia Gates. Most of her books are from the Harlequin/Mills and Boon Medical line, something I never would have picked up...but I discovered her thru the Bombshell line with Strong Medicine and Radical Cure.
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NoirFemme



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1481
Location: America

PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 6:04 am    Post subject: Re: the trouble with contemporaries Reply with quote

Margaret wrote:
I think there are many conflicts that exist in the modern world...race, religion, poverty, war, politics etc. The trick may be in writing about these somewhat hot button issues without pi**ing people off. It's easier to write about conflict when it's history and we know the outcome.


I agree. It's a lot easier (and "romantic") to write about star-crossed lovers (say, a stable hand and the daughter of the house), than a star-crossed match between say, a wealthy blue blood and a black football star. Not only have we modern Americans been conditioned to disdain anything that smacks of class in our own society, but racial tensions, religious tensions and (so relevant today) political tensions can cut way too close to the bone and chip away at the "safe" space created by the romance genre. It's why I feel readers migrated to paranormals and sf/f romance: it's a contemporary world, but modern-day tensions are masked by monsters and fantasy.
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Yulie



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 7:12 am    Post subject: Re: the trouble with contemporaries Reply with quote

NoirFemme wrote:
It's a lot easier (and "romantic") to write about star-crossed lovers (say, a stable hand and the daughter of the house), than a star-crossed match between say, a wealthy blue blood and a black football star. Not only have we modern Americans been conditioned to disdain anything that smacks of class in our own society, but racial tensions, religious tensions and (so relevant today) political tensions can cut way too close to the bone and chip away at the "safe" space created by the romance genre.

That strikes me as a pretty accurate analysis, and as a non-American, I think these are things that many people find difficult to deal with and thus difficult to read about in a genre in which a happy ending is a given. In Israel we just had a hugely successful TV show focusing on a love story between a young ultra-orthodox Jewish woman and a secular Jewish immigrant from Russia - but there was no happy ending for the h/h and I'm not sure how workable such an ending would have been; the differences would have been very difficult to deal with in the long-term. Maybe it's harder to believe in some circumstances, with certain external tensions and pressure, that a happy ending would be a lasting one.

I wonder if one way to get around the type of issues you mentioned without putting in a fantasy/paranormal element would be to do something cross-cultural - i.e. pairing a non-American PhD student, doctor or athlete (or whatever other occupation makes sense Very Happy ) with an American? I think that would create some issues for the h/h to work through, such as relationship expectations, norms, values etc. that would ring true without making readers feel as uncomfortable.
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Margaret



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 883

PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 10:23 am    Post subject: Re: the trouble with contemporaries Reply with quote

Quote:
Not only have we modern Americans been conditioned to disdain anything that smacks of class in our own society, but racial tensions, religious tensions and (so relevant today) political tensions can cut way too close to the bone and chip away at the "safe" space created by the romance genre. It's why I feel readers migrated to paranormals and sf/f romance: it's a contemporary world, but modern-day tensions are masked by monsters and fantasy.


The romance genre does offer 'comfort' reading and that can be a very good thing. I do wish that we didn't have to turn to paranormal books to get a sense of real conflict, or the uber-alpha male behaviour...but it would be much harder to write that type of hero in a contemp without backlash. Paranormals create a 'safe' wall.
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Margaret



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 883

PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 10:34 am    Post subject: Re: the trouble with contemporaries Reply with quote

Quote:

i.e. pairing a non-American PhD student, doctor or athlete (or whatever other occupation makes sense Very Happy ) with an American? I think that would create some issues for the h/h to work through, such as relationship expectations, norms, values etc. that would ring true without making readers feel as uncomfortable.


I love contemps like this...hard to find, but there are some out there.

Again I would recommend Olivia Gates...Doctor's Latin Lover(book is much better that the title) is a favourite of mine. Two of her books have been reviewed here http://www.likesbooks.com/cgi-bin/bookReview.pl?BookReviewId=2544

http://www.likesbooks.com/cgi-bin/bookReview.pl?BookReviewId=5797

Anne Stuart has given us a couple of Japanese heroes, Ice Blue and Fire and Ice.

Jade Lee's historical Tempted Tigress is another wonderful book.
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xina



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 6635
Location: minneapolis

PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 10:42 am    Post subject: Re: the trouble with contemporaries Reply with quote

The romance genre does offer 'comfort' reading and that can be a very good thing. I do wish that we didn't have to turn to paranormal books to get a sense of real conflict, or the uber-alpha male behaviour...but it would be much harder to write that type of hero in a contemp without backlash. Paranormals create a 'safe' wall.[/quote]


Yes, I agree, and I never really thought of the paranormal glut in those terms before, but perhaps you are right. I doesn't, however, work for everyone. Not me at least. I am sick to death of paranormal and watching so many authors jump on that bandwagon, but read it from time to time. I try to choose carefully and not very often.
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NoirFemme



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1481
Location: America

PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 11:04 am    Post subject: Re: the trouble with contemporaries Reply with quote

xina wrote:
Yes, I agree, and I never really thought of the paranormal glut in those terms before, but perhaps you are right. I doesn't, however, work for everyone. Not me at least. I am sick to death of paranormal and watching so many authors jump on that bandwagon, but read it from time to time. I try to choose carefully and not very often.


It's because I realized this that I don't read every single paranormal or urban fantasy put out there--a lot of the authors jumping on the bandwagon seem to miss this crucial element to the sf/f and paranormal novel. It isn't just about writing sexy vampires and werewolves starring a good-looking protagonist with supernatural powers; the paranormal world has to mean something, which is why I consider Charlaine Harris, L.A. Banks, Kim Harrison, Sharon Shinn and Marjorie M. Liu among the best paranormal and/or sf/f writers.
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Linda in sw va



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 4708

PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 1:31 pm    Post subject: Re: the trouble with contemporaries Reply with quote

Sorry, double post! :)

Linda


Last edited by Linda in sw va on Sat Apr 26, 2008 5:43 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Linda in sw va



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 1:33 pm    Post subject: Re: the trouble with contemporaries Reply with quote

[quote="Linda in sw va"][quote="Margaret"]
Quote:
The romance genre does offer 'comfort' reading and that can be a very good thing. I do wish that we didn't have to turn to paranormal books to get a sense of real conflict, or the uber-alpha male behaviour...but it would be much harder to write that type of hero in a contemp without backlash. Paranormals create a 'safe' wall.


So true! I do so love those alpha males and before paranormals took off in popularity I had to turn to romantica to get my alpha male fix. Paranormals are less confined, they don't seem to have to fall into this PC standard and they do open up a whole new world of possibilities for conflict. I know many are sick of the paranormal surge but they brought me back to the romance genre when I had become bored with it all.

I agree that not all new paranormal authors are getting it right but there are a few out there that have really nailed it and I'm glad to have more variety within this sub-genre than ever before.

Linda
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Natalie



Joined: 25 Mar 2007
Posts: 1693

PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 3:24 pm    Post subject: Re: the trouble with contemporaries Reply with quote

Yulie wrote:
NoirFemme wrote:
It's a lot easier (and "romantic") to write about star-crossed lovers (say, a stable hand and the daughter of the house), than a star-crossed match between say, a wealthy blue blood and a black football star. Not only have we modern Americans been conditioned to disdain anything that smacks of class in our own society, but racial tensions, religious tensions and (so relevant today) political tensions can cut way too close to the bone and chip away at the "safe" space created by the romance genre.

That strikes me as a pretty accurate analysis, and as a non-American, I think these are things that many people find difficult to deal with and thus difficult to read about in a genre in which a happy ending is a given. In Israel we just had a hugely successful TV show focusing on a love story between a young ultra-orthodox Jewish woman and a secular Jewish immigrant from Russia - but there was no happy ending for the h/h and


Yulie, what's the show called? I'll probably watch it if it's available with the Russian translation.
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Margaret



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 883

PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 4:45 pm    Post subject: Re: the trouble with contemporaries Reply with quote

Quote:

Paranormals are less confined, they don't seem to have to fall into this PC standard and they do open up a whole new world of possibilities for conflict.
I know many are sick of the paranormal surge but they brought me back to the romance genre when I had become bored with it all.


Exactly. And having more variety in the genre is fantastic, I just wish there were more contemps being written. OTOH when I do find a great contemporary book...it is very satisfying.

Just wanted to add that while I do enjoy some paranormals overall I like my h/h to be human--which is why the sf world works for me more.
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xina



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 6635
Location: minneapolis

PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 4:56 pm    Post subject: Re: the trouble with contemporaries Reply with quote

It's because I realized this that I don't read every single paranormal or urban fantasy put out there--a lot of the authors jumping on the bandwagon seem to miss this crucial element to the sf/f and paranormal novel. It isn't just about writing sexy vampires and werewolves starring a good-looking protagonist with supernatural powers; the paranormal world has to mean something, which is why I consider Charlaine Harris, L.A. Banks, Kim Harrison, Sharon Shinn and Marjorie M. Liu among the best paranormal and/or sf/f writers.[/quote]


I agree...so much of it lots of sex and a vampire or 2 thrown in, or a shapeshifter and then more sex. The authors you mentioned...I agree that they are good, but they were the originals and have pretty much been writing great paranormal from the get-go. I would add Kelley Armstrong to that list. As for me, I am not opposed to reading paranormal. Just yesterday I bought Sandra Schwab's new book, Bewitched. I was killing time in the bookstore, and I came upon her book. I've loved her writing and her cover was, well, eye-catching. I've read 3 of Wards books and very much enjoyed the 1st one. I've read Kresley Cole's first vampire book and liked it, but I've enjoyed her historicals very much. So....I do read it once in a great while. I'm going to start the Charlene Harris books this summer. I've got the first 3. I'll read it if it's a real story and not just a book full of sex, because I can get that in a contemporary or historical erotica/romantica book and not have to read about vampires, shapeshifters or other silly world building. But I realize that is just my opinion and I'm happy for those who enjoy it.
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