I was lucky enough to get a chance to sit down and chat with Sarah MacLean while at RWA. (This was before she won the RITA for best historical romance!) I wanted to follow up with her. I’d talked to her in December of 2013 about her challenge to The New York Times and that paper’s dismissal of romance. Since then, Sarah has been writing a regular column for the NYT’s rival, The Washington Post, about–gasp–romance novels.
Dabney: How did your get your gig at The Washington Post?
Sarah: It was triggered by the letter I wrote, which the NYT published, about the lack of romance writers in the NYT SEX issue. A few weeks after my letter ran, an editor at the NYT contacted me and asked if I’d do a roundup of romance novels.
Initially the paper sent me four recently published books their editor had selected and asked me to write about those. I felt the selection was really limited.
About a month later the WaPo offered me the option to write a monthly column. It usually runs the last week of the month and I get to pick my three favorite books that are about to be released. I can choose the genres, publishers, and showcase digital firsts. I often try to feature debut or less well known authors. Having the microphone of the WaPo offers a great opportunity to showcase how diverse and broad the genre is.
The column runs on-line and in the paper. It offers readers the a ability to learn about romance and see the genre as it really is.
Dabney: Is this something you see writing for a while?
Sarah: It started as a three month deal but is now open ended.
Dabney: How do you choose the books you write about?
Sarah: Publishers send me books. I am also interested in getting digital-only books, indie books, and self-published books.
I then pick three books per month–I read all the books I review. I look at every book I get sent. I can decide within 50 pages whether or not it’s going to be a book I adore. I have an embarrassment of riches to choose from and I often pick by balance–I want to showcase the entire genre.
Dabney: What’s the goal, for you, of this column?
Sarah: It’s designed to show the best of the genre. My current purpose is not to critique.
I’m proud that this is the first of its kind in national mainstream media. I hope that, that the NYT will continue to, at least a few times a year, cover romance.
It’s a great time for our genre. We are in a place right now where there are more romance writers being read more widely.
Dabney: What’s next for you?
Sarah: Never Judge a Lady by her Cover comes out in December. I have been plotting this book from the beginning of the Love by Numbers series!
Dabney: Well I, like many AAR readers, can’t wait to read it. Thanks for talking with me.
Sarah: My pleasure.