On June 5, I took part in a panel discussion at the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley. (Yes, that Berkeley.) The second annual festival, and the first time they invited a bunch of romance writers to speak. Only a little slow. 🙂
The gave us the fabulous subject Romance and Feminism: From Bodice Rippers to Trailblazers. Here’s our panel. In the back, Beth Barany (moderator) and Aya deLeon and in the front Moi, Kristin Miller, and Gail Carriger.
Although I adored the subject, I had to laugh a bit. I started reading and writing romance in the heyday of bodice rippers, and I have a fewe books with covers to prove it. The women in romance novels were always trailblazers–independent women with goals of their own who required their men to fit into their lives, not the other way around. This is nothing new, but it’s nice to have the outside world notice.
I have to admit to some trepidation when I consider taking part in literary events other than those specifically about romance. I’m always afraid someone is going to look down his nose (likely his, not hers) at what I write. I expect questions like “Are you ever going to write a real book?” or “Romance is just porn for women, right?”
None of those things happened. We had an overflow crowd with people standing in the hallway outside. The audience was receptive and enthusiastic. It was a fabulous experience.
I decided to address the subject of feminism in historical romance. It seemed an apt topic because in historicals our heroines live in societies where they had relatively little power and freedom. But our heroines manage to stick up for themselves very well. I mentioned my own historicals, which include such heroines as a professional orchid nurserywoman, a jewel thief, a wealthy American who wants to follow Darwin’s journeys around South American, and an American heiress who wants to sleep her way across Europe. No shrinking violets these ladies.
Here I am holding up one of my bodice ripper covers.Overall, it was a fabulous experience, and if I’m asked to do it again next year, I’ll jump at the chance. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, be sure to check out the book festival.
And by the way, I’ll have two releases next month, so I’ll be raffling off more of my handknitted items to someone on my mailing list. Here’s one of the items:
IIf you’d like to enter to win these wrist warmers (and a couple of other things), visit my blog. The form is on the front page. http://www.alicegaines.blogspot.com