The great thing about fiction is that if not expressly stated, the reader can visualize the characters, the scenery, just about anything any way they want. White, black, or brown skin, or perhaps skinny, overweight or ‘normal’ characters, that’s the amazing aspect of reading – immersing ourselves in a story that although written by someone else, becomes our own by creating the characters how we would like them to be – our perception.
Let’s talk about perception in the romance genre – specifically the gender of the author. It’s a fact – most of the romance books are written by women. I know that most of the romance books that are on my shelves are written by women. But why is that? I really have no idea. Say though that the author of a book just uses their initials and there is no glamour shot in their bio. Generally, what gender does the reader usually associate to them? In most cases, probably female because that is what we as readers have been conditioned to think.
But what if a male writes a romance? Would you pick it up if the blurb really intrigues you? I for one wouldn’t care as long as the subject matter is one that interest me.
Which leads me to the point of this post. Back in 2014, I was introduced to a new author and the novel that they wrote was titled Carnival. I fell in love with this story and found a new favorite author to add to my ever growing list. Since then, I have devoured everything written by this author. The author’s name is K.B. Nelson. Hmmm…..is K.B. female or male? With no head shot anywhere online the reader really doesn’t know. I believe most people would assume female because, well, romance. That is what most of us perceive. This author writes with so much passion and the stories absolutely amazing it really shouldn’t matter the gender of the author, right?
Well, for over a year, this author has struggled with keeping their gender unknown. Why you ask? Because K.B. Nelson is a guy. Yep. A man writing romance. Ummmm….who would have thought this was even possible? That was Mr. Nelson’s concern right from the beginning. In a field where women thrive and succeed, his concern was that his work wouldn’t get a second glance just because of his gender. I for one think a man writing romance is awesome. A man who gets it. A man who knows what romance is and can incorporate it into words that readers can visualize perfectly. A man who can give a reader an experience that they will never forget.
Yesterday, K.B. finally came ‘out of the closet’ so to speak with a blog post explaining why he kept his gender under wraps and that really got me thinking. Why do we as readers have this perception? Maybe we all need to think outside the box more often and give talented young authors the chance that they deserve. So, if you see a romance book written by a male, please don’t shrug it off. Pick it up and give it a chance, because there is a wealth of talent out there in the romance genre and it doesn’t always come from a woman.
Don’t let perception prevent you from discovering something new. Guess what? It may just be the most outstanding novel that you ever pick up.