from: Alexandra Chan
bcc: Val N.
date: Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 3:45 PM
subject: nora roberts
Dearest Goddesses of AfterEllen,
Okay, so i know that romance novels – and straight ones at that – probably go against everything afterellen believes in. and im sure any post about her would probably lead to dozens of lesbians complaining about misogyny and stereotypes and the complete lack of gay characters, not to mention the literary merits (or lack thereof). Regardless, i feel compelled to write in and request a blog post about Nora Roberts and Lauren Collins’ profile in this week’s New Yorker (see attached).
- It’s hilarious – even if you’ve never read a Nora Roberts’ novel, you can appreciate the fact that the woman is tough as nails, sharp as a tack, and smart as hell.
- Nora’s completely self-aware. She acknowledges her writing was much weaker in her early works, and knows she makes some silly continuity mistakes (“You just feel like an idiot“). But with regard to her reputation, she quipped about her futuristic crime story-writing alter ego, “J.D. is offended, but I’m not.” [and added, in a stage whisper,] “She’s a bitch, anyway.”
- And the woman is damn hard working. Five novels a year. When her kids were younger, she had to tell them, ” ‘Don’t bother me unless it’s blood or fire. And, as they grew more responsible, arterial blood and active fire.’ ” And she doesnt have any help – no assistant, no one to help with research; after all, “Why would you want people in your house?… Then you have to talk to them.”
- also, she has good taste. how else can you explain the bobblehead doll of Spike from Buffy on her desk?
- Collins captures exactly why I (and i assume many others), even as a proud woman loving woman, adore her quick-read novels: “Reading a Roberts novel is like watching a game of tennis between two very good players: it is not so much the outcome of the match but the back-and-forth between commensurate opponents that elicits the spectator’s pleasure.” — sure, the sex scenes are hokey (it was nice to know im not the only one who usually skims them), and they almost always culminate in an unrealistically quick (especially in 2009) marriage proposal, but there’s something incredibly compelling about a confident, entrepreneurial, sharp-tongued heroine and her physically and intellectually equal love interest. plus, there’s usually some murder and intrigue to boot!
- sometimes, and i mean to send Nora an email about this (apparently she’s very good at answering her fans!), i think: if i were to change every pronoun involving the book’s hero from the masculine to the feminine, would the story suffer at all? and the answer is heck no; her stories would work just as well if the male protagonists were women. And actually, it’d even work for the majority of her sex scenes (im totally not kidding about this one. they really arent super graphic). Hmmm, I guess I also need to request some gay peripheral characters. i hear she’s very accomodating.
- although afterellen is about LGBT visibility, it’s also about guilty pleasures (need i mention the Gossip Girl (!!) recaps?). And Nora Roberts is definitely one of those. But maybe, and just maybe, i think it’s about time i stopped feeling guilty.
Alright, I admit it. I don’t have a grand conclusion or tidy wrap up to this plea for an article. Or cover story. Or small mention somewhere! (after all, it’s the middle of the work day and i AM working!). However, I’m very interested in whether I’m not alone in this adoration for NFR (yep, her friends call her Nora F-ing Roberts) among the lesbian community. I’d love to hear your opinions on her (especially StuntDouble’s, who though I’m sure hasnt read any of her books, would probably really enjoy them. Try Midnight Bayou, it’s my fave!!), and I’m also completely prepared to see lots of snarky backlash in the comments section. After all, it IS a site for lesbians. And you know how much we like to talk about our strong (and always correct) opinions on absolutely everything (case in point).
Much love and loyal AE reading,