Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Who Says Chick Books are Bad? by Robin Janney

Family can be harsh critics sometimes.

I have a brother, who discouraged our other brother about reading my novels.  Because it's a "chick book". Like it was something bad. And he said it in my presence.

It was embarrassing.  And honestly, I felt a little ashamed.  I've written a book that my brother feels that he can't read because it's a Romance.

The more I dwell on it, the angrier I become.

Why should I be ashamed? It's not the greatest book, but it's a good book. And while it is a Romance (which there's NOTHING wrong with that), it's also so much more.  Forgiveness is a major theme that runs through the entire series.  Forgiving oneself, forgiving those who've violated us...or not forgiving them. Mental illness is another theme.  Living in fear of it, living with it, battling it. Freedom from religion is another theme; each character is at a different place spiritually which causes some friction. There's also some Fantasy in the books.  I consider my demonic characters Fantasy characters as they are in no way 'biblical'. And many times, the Angels/Guardians take on the form of an animal of some kind...a dog, a horse, a cat. And there is the beloved Dragon Dream...ok, readers love it, the characters not so much. As the series goes on, the Dragon Dream becomes more and more real.

But even with all those layers, my brother says "Chick Book" like it's something bad.

So what if it is?

There's nothing wrong with Romance.

Boy meets girl (or whichever variation is relevant to your life), they fall in love, face adversity of some kind, overcome it and have a happy ending.

Which can be a welcome thing during those times when our lives is anything but a happy ending. It's probably fiction in general and Romance's harshest criticism...that it doesn't represent real life. Sooooo? Sometimes we need a break from the harshness of the real world.  We need a dose of hope. We need a chance to dream a little.

I'll admit that there were many years when I was single and unable to find Mr. Right that I had to put Romance novels aside. I never thought I'd find my Mr. Right and it hurt to read all those happy endings. Even sexless Christian Romances left a bad taste on my reading palate at the time.  But even in other works of fiction that I read, romance still had it's place. I mean, goodness, Rand al'Thor in the Wheel of Time series managed to woo three different women! Without trying! In the Visitation by Frank Peretti, the widower slowly falls for another character amongst the backdrop of the spiritual warfare plaguing the town. Even in this brother's favorite crime series he reads, which I've tried the first book of, there is a love interest for the main character.

So, really, I wonder what his beef with 'chick books' really is.  Romance, love, sexual tension, and ensuing conflict are all around us to varying levels. And unlike novels, we don't always get a happy ending. Hearts get broken, lives are devastated and turned around, marriages end and families are broken apart, partners turn out to be abusive jerks. Is it really so wrong to read novels in which things tend to end happier no matter what adversity hits the characters?

Yes, some people get stuck in the fantasy. Of any fiction. That's where a good therapist comes in, and I'm not completely joking when I say that, but I do mean it in a non-judgmental way. While I've never had this problem of separating fact from fiction, from reality and fantasy, I know that there are people who do have this problem, and there is really nothing I can do to help them...I'm not writing for them. I'm not writing to be theologically correct, biblically correct or historically correct...I'm not writing to be correct at all (this might be the core of my brother's issue). I'm writing a story that my head can no longer contain and if I don't get it out it's going to drive me mad. I'm exploring a world like ours, but slightly different. And if someone else happens to like it and wants to read along, that's great!

Not all my characters are going to get their happily ever after ending. Not even all platonic friendships will get a happy ending.  And some of them are really going to have to work for it.

I was just perusing Facebook and came across a meme that fits this subject. "So many men think women want money, cars and gifts. But the right woman wants: a man's time, effort, passion, honesty, loyalty, smile, and him choosing to put her as his priority." I know that this has been my main complaint from time to time in the past when Mr. Janney ignored me for his gaming. He's gotten better at that. There has to be a balance in any relationship, and that balance can change at any given moment depending on a partner's changing needs. This truth is reflected in many romance novels, at least the ones I read. It's not about what the guy can do for the girl, it's about the time and the effort.

And since 50% of the worlds population are "chicks", why shouldn't there be a genre of literature for us? I don't like the crime series my brother does. I tried, but I just don't. But that's ok, because those books aren't aimed at me. If it suits my brother's taste, then that's fine as those books are obviously geared for him and like minded readers. All genres of literature are equal. None is better than another. We just each have different tastes and preferences. I'm sure there are men out there that enjoy a good romance novel, I just don't know where they are!

Don't discourage people to read. Ever. It's not cool. It's not up to you to decide whether someone else will like a book.

End rant. Thanks for reading.


  1. This is so true.. Your books are awesome and leaves you with the feeling of you have to have more.. Seriously mom and I could not put your books down and it saddened me to do so to go to work and have to wait til I got home to continue reading..
    It is sad to hear someone was discouraged from reading your book, let them make their own decision..
    Still waiting Mrs. Janney on your third.. Not that I am rushing you lol...

    1. I know, and I am working on them. Thanks for your support. Check out Facebook and check out our latest drama today. "Real' life can be a pain in the behind sometimes! lol