From the ed­i­tor

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - Deb­o­rah Jones

ROSE­MARY Neill’s won­der­ful piece about ro­mance writ­ing com­ing out of the closet (it starts on page 5) brought back warm mem­o­ries. Like so many oth­ers I once fan­cied I could win a share of that lu­cra­tive mar­ket and set about read­ing as many Mills & Boon books as I could. I also put away a few Bar­bara Cart­land nov­els — now there was a suc­cess­ful au­thor! (Which re­minds me: bril­liant Clive James’s de­scrip­tion of Dame Bar­bara’s maquil­lage has never been bet­tered. ‘‘Twin mir­a­cles of mas­cara, Bar­bara Cart­land’s eyes look like the corpses of two small crows that had crashed into a chalk cliff.’’ Per­fect.) Any­hoo, my friends and I could see there was a for­mula; it was just a mat­ter of in­sert­ing into it a cou­ple of at­trac­tive char­ac­ters and a wisp of plot. Hand­some but tac­i­turn coun­try doc­tor who has suf­fered some past ro­man­tic pain, new school­teacher in town, that sort of thing. If we sim­ply ap­plied our­selves we, too, could make some se­ri­ous money. Of course we achieved no such goal, or at least I didn’t. Pos­si­bly some friends did un­der an as­sumed name, there be­ing at that time a bit of shame at­tached to this genre. Per­haps ro­mance writ­ing will never get lit­er­ary cred, but these days most peo­ple re­spect earn­ing power so authors are start­ing to put their heads above the para­pet. Good on them. Truth to tell, this ro­mance writ­ing lark isn’t as easy as it looks. If it were, ev­ery­one would be do­ing it. I sim­ply didn’t have the level of de­ter­mi­na­tion re­quired and un­doubt­edly didn’t have a tal­ent for fic­tion. Still don’t, which is why I’m a jour­nal­ist. So hats off to these folk who will never win the Miles Franklin, or the Booker, or the Pulitzer, but who know their mar­ket and keep it en­ter­tained. There are worse things to do.

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