Quickie with Katherine Sutcliffe
On Sensuality in Romance
(January 23, 1998)
Katherine Sutcliffe is the author of two of my Desert Isle Keepers, Dream Fever and Fire in the Heart. She and I “met” online last year (see Issue #26 of Laurie’s News & Views), and she apparently visited All About Romance again, because she wrote in about Issue #40 and the Rants About Sexuality page associated with that issue.
Here’s what Katherine had to say:
As an author who is constantly concerned over whether or not I’m writing enough sex in my books, or steamy enough sex, I was absolutely fascinated by the comments in Readers Rant on Sexuality. There were a number of comments made regarding some authors who no longer put in as much sex as they use to. Mostly these authors have moved on to more mainstream books, or crossover books. In these books the romance normally is not as prevalent as well. Probably these books were meant to appeal to the broader audience of readers who would not normally buy and read a romance.
There is a fine line one does or doesn’t cross when attempting to appeal to both audiences. When an author can find that line, as Spencer did, say, in Morning Glory, they are going to appeal to both mainstream and genre readers. The truth of the matter is, the audience for mainstream is much bigger and therefore more lucrative. This by no means indicates that that author wishes to ignore her romance fans. Simply put, she/he wants only to reach more readers. This can be very good for our genre. Readers who might never have picked up a romance book, might be encouraged to do so when learning that romance doesn’t necessarily mean rape and bondage, or any of those other silly sterotypes we’ve been baggaged with through the years.
Without getting into the cover debate, I think that doing away with the “clench” covers was the best thing to happen to romance in a very long time. Personally, I didn’t like to hear that readers had to hide their books for fear of being ridiculed. My understanding is, because of the trend toward more tasteful covers, the sales are stronger for romance than they have ever been. We (authors) have wondered for some time now if the readers were getting fed up with explicit sex in these books. The letters I read here indicate they have not. Still, are there as many readers out there who want more plot and less sex who aren’t joining in on this discussion for fear of being the odd man out? Also, how do readers feel about authors going from historical to contemporary, (romance not mainstream) and visa versa? Does it matter as long as the book fulfills their necessary requirements for romance?