I’m a Romance Novelist Who Writes About Politics | Forum

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xysoom
xysoom Dec 21 '20

In my latest romance novel, How to Catch a Queen, my heroine finally achieves her lifelong dream of becoming a queen following an arranged marriage—only to find herself in a country where the voices of women aren’t respected, and queens are powerless.To get more news about Read Romance Novels Online For Free, you can visit freewebnovel official website.

The “happily ever after” comes only after Shanti and her king, Sanyu, navigate toxic masculinity, a government made of old men who refuse to respect fresh ideas from younger generations, and a community of marginalized people who organize in the back of a bookstore to help drag their country into the future.

The novel, which was written in the wake of the 2016 Presidential Election, the 2018 Gubernatorial Election, and during the lead up to the 2020 Presidential Election, was supposed to be a lighthearted adventure romp. Instead, it ended up being a meditation on the ways the world treats competent women who actively seek power. How a government can treat the dearth of a marginalized group in high-level decision-making as business as usual, instead of a disturbing reflection of society’s unspoken but rigidly unforced rules. While it’s set in a fictional kingdom, How To Catch A Queen, like so many romance novels, was clearly shaped by the politics of the world around me and—specifically, America today.

Touching on politics in romance novels isn’t new to me, or to the genre itself; I’ve written love stories focused on Civil War spies fighting Confederates, and Civil Rights activists on Freedom Rides. And recently, a group of romance novelists—myself included—made headlines for our efforts to fundraise for the Georgia runoff elections.

Somehow, despite a history of politically engaged books, some of them written by political stars like Stacey Abrams, people still see romance novels as apolitical fantasy fluff. (That would make for a delicious Ben & Jerry’s flavor, wouldn’t it?) The fact that so many assume the romance genre can’t be political—that it isn’t inherently so—is, well, political in itself.

Okay, now that you have your answer, I won’t guess what or who you envisioned, because this isn’t some kind of card trick. Or rather, the trick is that anything you answered is, in fact, political, too. If you think the books are written and read by bored housewives rather than savvy business people (or that authors can’t be both), that’s political. If you imagine the protagonist as a helpless white woman waiting to be rescued, that’s political. If you can’t imagine a helpless Black woman, or a queer person, waiting to be rescued, that’s political. If the word “hero” conjures images of a straight white man waiting to do the rescuing, that’s, well…you get it.

Romance novels are, in a sense, a reflection of who is allowed to be seen as desirable by the media, as well as whose lovability (which is different from existence as a sexual object) is validated by pop culture. There’s a reason romance novels have primarily featured white cis-hetero people, despite marginalized authors fighting for recognition and representation for decades—and it’s certainly not that Black or Asian or queer people love or are loved less than white, straight people. It’s that publishing is steeped in the American political pastime of institutional racism, like everything else. According to the New York Times, of the most widely-read English language books published between 1950 and 2018, 95 percent were written by white authors.

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