A Blog for Writers: Women and Adversity, Karina Cooper, Part 2
Karina Cooper gives an insight into her choice of genres. “Tempered,” the 4th book in The St. Croix Chronicles, was published in February 2014.
Question: What obstacles did you have to overcome when you decided to write “on the dark side”?
Karina: The obstacles here have been somewhat more numerous—but then again, so has the welcome from those who absolutely adore the dark side. On the one hand, being a writer means that not many people actually see what you look like. Given that I’m a 5’5″ (and a half!), 112 pound lightweight with crazy colored hair and no real sense of the Goth aesthetic, often called “cheerful” and “perky” by those who don’t live with me, I run into a lot of confused people when they finally meet me. The common response, “Wait, YOU’RE Karina Cooper? You wrote THAT”?
My voice is naturally dark, leaning towards positively grim at times, and I tackle subject matter that some feel is better left out of romance. Sometimes I do it on purpose. Sometimes, it’s just how I write. Regardless, one of the more interesting obstacles I run into because of this is a prevalent argument that I don’t “really” write romance—that romance is a pure Happily Ever After, that threading continuing issues through a couple or through books isn’t really romantic. While I don’t let it bother me, I do cheekily call my endings “Happily For Nows.” Each to his and her own, is my belief, and that includes my own work.
Yet it doesn’t end there. The romance label earns extreme responses on both sides—a difficult place to be if one writes in the middle. On the one hand, men who might otherwise enjoy the subject material of my books—action! adventure! death and murder! mystery!—have to my face refused to read them because “ew, romance.” On the other, those romance readers who have a very clear idea of what romance should be tend to call them something else, thereby turning those books away at the door.
I find it all extremely fascinating, and it’s a perfect indication of how saturated the genres are with readers who have very specific types and tastes. The beauty of the romance industry is that you’ll find something for everyone, even if my work doesn’t fill every niche—nor should it. It’s a fantastic group of people, a huge readership, and extremely supportive of women in the industry. There’s a lot to be said for that.
Conversely, there’s a “dark side” to that few really talk about, and that’s the “fantasy” inherent in writing. I wrote a blog post about it filled with eye candy. For those of us who like our fantasy with lovely people to look at, it basically details one of the great decisions authors get to make, and even when that decision takes to a darker side than most, it’s still a decision we have to make—and one we have to bear the consequences for.
What obstacles does Karina face today?
Karina answers that in Part III of this blog, which will appear May 29. Sign up at jamathews.com/blog to get it sent to your email.