Monday, September 29, 2008


There are many, many readers whose primary consumption involves the products of that mighty modern empire, Harlequin. Its global expansion, in geography and width of subgenres, is astonishing. Ask a non-romance reader what they think a romance novel is all about and chances are, that person will picture something resembling one of Harlequin's monthly category books, with a specific type of cover and title.

Apprentice Writer has never been drawn to category books, though she hasn't really figured out why. Some time ago, she won a book after enjoyable online chat with the author , and only realized it was a Harlequin title when it arrived in the mail. The story was set in an intersting period, had likable main characters, and for AW's taste was too short on plot developments and too long on introspection, with an ending that felt very quickly resolved for the number of times hero and heroine declared it could never happen. Was this a reflection of that particular author? Or was it a reflection of the tight wordcount and plot requirements set out for this line?

Is it fair to judge an entire line based on one book?

The answer, obviously, is no.

Yesterday was the annual Toronto WORD ON THE STREET celebration of all things literary. Harlequin's tent offered hundreds of titles with all proceeds donated to adult literacy charities. And voila: in between juggling junior apprentice writers #1-3, an experiment was born.

AW scooped up five Harlequin Historical titles, each from a different time period. Her plan is to read them concurrently and see what happens. Will plots follow a pattern? Will heros and heroines seem popped from a template? Will author skill result in uniquely memorable stories?

Tomorrow: Report #1.

Gentle Reader: are you a Harlequin fan? Why or why not?


Wylie Kinson said...

Very interesting, M... and I look forward to your analysis.

Sadly, I missed WoTS. My youngest was recovering from a fever (the night before), so we kept our activities low-key.

M. said...

Wylie - hope the little guy is feeling better. The first year my boy was in preschool, he got a cold once a month, regular as clockwork, sometimes spiced up by the addition of a stomach bug. Good times. But since then, he's been very resistant so it's the price you have to pay.

WotS was fab, as always. Can't decide if it's better to go by yourself, and look at everything thoroughly, or with your kids and watch them get excited.

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