You may have seen the news and the surrounding brouhaha about the alleged acts of plagarism by bestseller Cassie Edwards. In case you’ve missed it, you can check out the allegations at the Smart Bitches blog.
It’s disturbing to think that a writer of 100 novels with 10 million copies in print may have committed these acts. I say “alleged” and “may have” because I won’t jump on the band wagon to pillory this woman. There are enough people out there doing that.
What I will take a moment to point out is that whether Ms. Edwards is guilty or innocent, there is one huge nameless victim out there — the Romance genre since some have taken the opportunity to bash Romance in their discussions about what Ms. Edwards is claimed to have done.
Take for example the opening sentence in the New York Times: “Who says romance novel fans care only about ripped bodices and manly men?”
Note to the New York Times — the term “bodice ripper” hasn’t been acceptable for quite some time now since it refers to acts of non-consensual sex aka rape. Also note — Romance novel fans actually do something that less and less people do every day — THEY READ!!! And they do so for more than just the manly men and the sex scenes although we have our good share of fun with them in the Romance community.
Then there’s the article by one of the writers from whom Ms. Edwards is said to have copied — Paul Tolme, a respected wildlife writer. The article appeared in Newsweek. Here’s just a few snippets about the Romance genre from that article (all emphasis added is done by me):
“When I traveled to South Dakota in 2005 to write a story about black-footed ferrets, I never imagined my words about the little weasels would one day appear in a trashy romance novel.”
“The prose is standard romance-novel shlock. Bramlett’s bosom heaves. Shadow Bear feels a longing in his loins.”
“Wow, that is some bad dialogue. It stands out as clunky and awkward even by the standards of romance novels.”
Mr. Tolme ends his article by asking that we think about the “victim here that has been lost in the discussion: the ferrets.”
Sorry, Mr. Tolme, but I’m finding it kind of hard to listen to anyone who disrespects something I value as much as you value your ferrets. You stand up for them while denigrating thousands of Romance writers and millions of romance novel fans.
On a final note, it’s bound to take some time for the Edwards plagarism discussion to come to an end. In the meantime, there are clearly those who will use the opportunity to denigrate the Romance genre, its writers and readers as a whole. I just hope that when all this is over, there won’t be too many bruises from all the bashing.