Chicklit has gone MIA.
Once so ubiquitous and easy to spot (Those shoes and tubes of lipstick on the covers! The cartoon images! Neon-bright girly colors!), chicklit has developed such a rampant case of shyness that onlookers suspect it should be declared dead. Let's have a look at the evidence, shall we?
- An agent putting in writing to Apprentice Writer that (paraphrased) chicklit is toast, nigh impossible to sell to publishers anymore,
- A used book store owner giving less credit for chicklitish titles (including those clearly marked 'Women's Fiction') than any other genres due to difficulty unloading,
- Harlequin's much-advertised 60-year anniversary celebration doesn't seem to have sent a party invitation to the genre. As far as AW could tell, none of the 16 featured free books available for e-download included chicklit, nor the featured series to be released during the year. Paranormal, suspense, inspirational titles etc. offer multiple choices for the reader each month; while Red Dress Ink, the chicklit imprint, offers a single December 2008 title as most recent choice.
- Upsurge in titles now described as 'Contemporary/Upbeat/Light/Humorous Women's Fiction'. Author Jane Porter's website divides her work into 'Classic Romance' (referring to series titles) and titles described as 'Modern Lit'.
- Migration. First there was the disbandment of such sites as 'Literary Chicks', now previous chicklitish authors are popping up in other genres:
CARA LOCKWOOD - Young adult series and paranormal title Every Demon Has His Day
ALESSIA HOLLIDAY - writing as Alyssa Day, paranormal series Atlantis
LANI DIANE RICH - Co-wrote paranormal title Dogs and Goddesses
EILEEN COOK- Young adult title What Would Emma Do
EILEEN RENDEHL - writing as Eileen Carr, suspense title Hold Back the Dark and urban fantasy title Don't Kill the Messenger
From this off-the-top-of-her-head and by no means exclusive sample, Apprentice Writer concludes that a) Some people are amazingly good at seeing the writing on the wall and doing something about it, and b) Young adult, urban fantasy, and holy-smokes-its-unstoppable,-Batman paranormal are the rainmakers at the moment.
Is there any hope of chicklit survival?
Well, yes. Apparently a chicklit voice can thrive by immigration to other genre lands and blending in there. Funny, first-person stories have been popping up (as would be expected from above) in Young Adult land, Paranormal land, and Fantasy land. Also, JANET MULLANY'S upcoming title, A Most Lamentable Comedy, is billed as 'Regency Chicklit'.
But, the outlook for chicklit survival in the land of its birth - straight contemporary? Looking doubtful.
Optimists will promise the inevitablity of its rebirth, certain to rise from the ashes anew at some unknown future point. Maybe. But, who knows how far in the future, and under what name?
Until then, AW wishes someone would clue her in about the identity of the NEXT rainmaking subgenre.
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