Monday, March 12, 2012

Social Issues in Romance

Pamela Tracy here. Yesterday I was on a panel at the Tucson, Arizona, Festival of Books. Our topic: Social Issues in romance. When I was first told of my topic, I wrinkled my nose. "Please, tell me to give a workshop on voice, point of view, black moment, anything."

Nope, my workshop was on social issues in romance.

I looked at the books I'd written (23) and wrinkled my nose again. Then, I went searching for exactly what a social issue was (I had an idea, but it wasn't something I'd researched.) Luckily, one of the other panel members quested with me. Here's the definition we came up with:

"... a situation in life that causes, either inadvertantly or intensionally, some sort of unrest."

Next, we went looking for the top ten social issues. Here's the list we found and decided to use:

10. Education - Ignorance - intelligence & knowledge - common sense, rational thought.
9. Illegal Immigration - Healthcare, jobs, wages

8. Freedom of speech - Hate speech ( KKK )

7. Personal Individual Liberty disputes - between government control vs. individual freedoms
6. Society morality conflicts - Abortion, Atheists, Drugs, Suicide, prostitution
5. Psychology - deviance, abuse, manipulation, superiority complex attitudes, domineering personalities like dictatorships
4. Standard of living - between the poor & rich - healthcare
3. Discrimination - against culture, age, sex, religion, race
2. Religious intolerance
1. Racism

Almost immediately, we tossed out the ones we didn't want to talk about. We went back and forth using our own books and the books of others to try to match issues to books. Then, we went looking for the top ten romance books (not classics, but popular fiction). Here's the list we chose:

10. Morning Glory
9. Nobody's Baby But Mine
8. Lord of Scroundels
7. Knight in Shining Armor
6. Flowers from the Storm
5. The Bride
4. McKenzie's Mountain
3. It Had to be You
2. Dream Man
1. Outlander

I'd read six but only really remembered two.

One of the other participants had read them all and put social issues to them.

Turns out social issues are alive and well in romance books and actually do sell well.

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