The Purple Prose Parody

History of the Purple Prose Parody Contest

This section of the site began back in 1997 when I developed the idea of a contest to celebrate the excesses of our beloved genre. While the original idea for our contest was to write a love scene (or portion thereof) featuring as many oft-used phrases as possible, those who have entered the contest since it began have made it their own. And, as a result, and because of our desire to keep this contest fresh, over the years the concept has grown.

Winner for our first year was author Marsha Canham, and while author Catherine Asaro entered the next year with a wonderful parody, reader Doris Riley was our reader’s pick for 1998. In 1999 a new dimension was added through the concept of the author homage. Though many of the entries we received for 2000’s contest were indeed homages to authors such as Dara Joy and Amanda Quick, the winner was Claudia Terrones, with her surprise (and controversial, I might add!), ending. Claudia was invited to join AAR’s review staff as a result of her fabulous parody, and she’s one of many over the years who have come to us via this route.

The author homage concept was continued in 2000. To make things even more interesting, we also asked those submitting entries to consider the “Merge-Matic” concept as conceived by The Washington Post. In the Post’s contest, entrants were asked to combine the works of two authors like Robin Parry did with the first-runner-up entry of Green Eggs and Hamlet or Mike Long did with his winning entry of Fahrenheit 451 of the Vanities. Two of our entries were merge-matic parodies in 2000; the winner for 2000 was not only a merge-matic parody, it was an homage, written by Tina Engler, now known to many of you as Jaid Black, Romantica author and founder of Ellora’s Cave.

By now our readers craved more than simply love scenes to be parodied. In 2001, and again, in 2002, we asked that you let your creativity run wild. The winners in our 2001 contest were Andrea Geist, who parodied series romance, and former AAR Editor/currently an author published with Avon, Marianne Stillings, who parodied J.D. Robb’s In Death series to perfection. The winners in our 2002 contest were Cheryl Sneed (now an AAR reviewer) with an homage to Stephanie Laurens and Sherry Thomas, who…ah…parodied the writing process and the Regency-set historical all at once.

There were two winners in our 2003 contest, Amanda Grange and Blythe Barnhill. As an AAR staffer, Blythe was ineligible to receive a prize, as was also the case in 2001. The prize for 2003 was donated by Timeless Message – a value of roughly $75. Amanda’s award-winning entry was a pitch for Pride and Prejudice to a modern-day publisher while Blythe’s entry paid homage to Mary Balogh.

In 2004 we kicked the competition up another notch. Not only did we suggest the idea of Chick Lit parodies in addition to those devoted to romance novels, I provided a costly prize myself rather than asking for a donation. Because of my out-of-pocket expense, we ended the possibility of a tie. If two (or more entries) have the same number of votes, the winner will be decided by AAR’s editorial staff. The winner for 2004’s contest, btw, was once again Amanda Grange, who received a very “girlie” award of cosmetics from Bare Escentuals, with a value of more than $80 (click here to view). Amanda’s very creative entry was a Regency version of Bridget Jones’s Diary.

The winning entry for 2005’s contest was written by Amy Edwards and Kate Johnson. Though they did not utilize the twist we added for 2005 (a Western/Frontier parody), their Merge-Matic parody combined the writing style of Bridget Jones’ Diary with elements from Sherrilyn Kenyon’s popular Dark Hunter series in a very, very clever fashion. Amy and Kate won a Bare Escentuals kit with a value of more than $80.