I’ve just returned from the RT Booklovers Convention and – wow! – was it ever a great year for Fantasy Romance.
A number of us hosted the Mad Hatter Fantasy Romance Tea Party. We planned for 100 people, something like 150 came in for standing room only, and RT volunteers turned 30+ away. Next year RT suggests we plan for 200! What a rousing – and unexpected – success. I saw other signs of increased interest in the genre, with people snapping up my books, some after standing for hours in line! I’ve never experienced anything like it.
In fact, I had a long, winding (two-hour) conversation with Fantasy Romance author Grace Draven. It was fascinating to compare notes with her, because she was similarly blown away by the genre love. She said that, like me, she’s never been on the upsurge of anything in her life. We are both bemused and incredibly grateful.
What’s most interesting is our shared history, though we only just met at this conference.
Her book, Master of Crows – which was my Grace Draven gateway drug and I love, love, love – came out from Amber Quill in 2009. She told me it didn’t do well, largely because the cover wasn’t good. When she regained her rights to the book, she reissued it in 2011with an amazing new cover and it took off from there. Meanwhile, my first book in the Covenant of Thorns trilogy, Rogue’s Pawn, finally sold after much muttering about how cross-genre it was, and came out from Carina Press in 2012. I think it’s salient that Grace and I both sold these “unmarketable” books to digital presses. We both reflected on our gratitude for those digital presses and the technology that allows these cross-genre books to find audiences, which allows new genres to emerge.
Amber Quill called Grace’s book Fantasy, but Carina classified mine, three years later, as Fantasy Romance – a genre I had never heard defined that way, before that moment. But in between the first publication of Master of Crows and mine for Rogue’s Pawn, something else happened. C.L. Wilson’s Lord of the Fading Lands was published in July 2010 by Harper Collins and debuted on the New York Times bestseller list. She, as Grace puts it, kicked the door down for Fantasy Romance.
This year, RT Magazine awarded the first of my Twelve Kingdoms books, The Mark of the Tala, the Seal of Excellence for stretching genre boundaries. The second book, The Tears of the Rose, was nominated for best Fantasy Romance of the year, along with books by C.L. Wilson and Amy Raby, and Grace’s book, Entreat Me, won the category. 2014 was the first time the magazine gave awards in the subgenre.
So, what’s ahead? I’m a big believer that a high tide floats all boats. More love for Fantasy Romance means more opportunities for writers! Bring it on, people!
*previously published on the blog of Jill Archer in 2015*
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