Saturday, March 21, 2009

Joanna D'Angelo asks Who's Afraid of Happy Endings??

posted by Christine Wells
We are excited to have with us in the lair today the wonderful Joanna D'Angelo. Joanna is a writer/fillmmaker who co-produced and directed “Who’s Afraid of Happy Endings?” - a witty and revealing documentary about romance writers and the world of romance fiction. The documentary premiered on Bravo! Canada in 2007 and will be seen on Australia’s Ovation network in 2009. (We Aussies can't wait!)

Joanna also manages “
A Love of Romance Novels” - the largest group for romance fiction lovers on facebook. She has worked in broadcast radio, TV and film and is currently writing and developing several TV projects. How cool is that? Over to you, Joanna!

Over 60 million women in North America do it at least once a week – read romance novels, that is!

That's the tag line from the promotional material for my documentary “Who’s Afraid of Happy Endings?”.

“Who’s Afraid of Happy Endings?” chronicles three Canadian romance writers: Kelly Boyce, an aspiring writer hungry to sell her first book at a major industry conference; Kayla Perrin, a contemporary romance author eager to break out of the smaller African-American market and into the mainstream with her first erotica novel; and Kathryn Smith, an historical romance author, embraces her fascination with vampires and makes the leap to paranormal romance as a way to stand out in a competitive market.
Featuring interviews with some of the brightest stars of the romance world, including Jo Beverley, Jennifer Crusie, Eloisa James, Debbie Macomber and Nora Roberts, as well as Susan Pezzack, editor at Harlequin, Toronto, “Who’s Afraid of Happy Endings?” explores the history of romance novels, its many sub-genres and what it takes to make it in the business.

I co-directed “Who’s Afraid of Happy Endings” with my friend Christine Alexiou (a writer based in Toronto, Canada). We began our journey in 2004/05 - spent about a year researching and raising the money for the film and then another year shooting and editing. No nefarious criminals were uncovered. No deadly secrets were revealed. No civil wrongs were righted. No scandals were created (well at least beyond the edit suite ;) But I think this film accomplished something good.
When we began our research - neither Christine nor I could find any other documentaries that that had anything positive to say about romance novels. Well, we had something positive to say and we wanted to share it with the world. Yes - romance fiction is fantasy. It can be fun, entertaining, sexy, even (dare I say) tawdry. But it's also feminist. Yikes! How can I make that claim? Well, let's see. It's written BY WOMEN, ABOUT WOMEN, and mostly FOR WOMEN. The woman - the heroine - always overcomes. She always wins. In the words of Jennifer Crusie (whom we interviewed for the film - lucky us!) "It's a female fantasy quest". So – yes, it is a fantasy. But it’s also a quest. Which means that the hero-ine undergoes a transformation in each and every story. Okay, she falls in love with the hero. But it also means she falls in love with herself as she overcomes both internal and external conflicts. She changes. She grows. She conquers. She loves. Certainly, there's a lot more to romance fiction than that but it's one of the reasons why I love it…why I have always loved romance fiction and what prompted me to make this documentary in the first place.

From the time I started reading romance (way back when I was about 14-15 years old and I discovered “The Flame and the Flower” and “The Wolf and the Dove” by the late, great Kathleen Woodiwiss – in my high school library no less!) I knew inside that romance was empowering. Even when I studied journalism and film theory and kinda hid the fact that I read romance from my friends (silly me) - I always loved it. And I figured out (like all romance fans do) that Jane Austen wrote romance! Ah yes, redemption! After I got older – and wiser I no longer cared who knew that I loved romance fiction. After I finished my documentary in 2007 I launched a romance fiction group on facebook called “A Love of Romance Novels”. The group has grown to more than 1,800 members including both authors and readers alike. From teenagers to senior citizens - both male and female – romance fans love a good story…as long as it’s got a happy ending of course!

“Who’s Afraid of Happy Endings?” has been broadcast in Canada on Bravo! many times since it premiered in 2007. Our executive producer is GAPC Entertainment – a respected Canadian production company. Our international distributor is APT World Wide - known for distributing many fine PBS documentaries. APT recently made a sale to the Ovation Channel in Australia. I am not sure about future broadcast dates so if you live in Australia and get the Ovation Channel check your local listings.

Joanna has just launched a new blog called popculturedivas. It features 25 dynamic women contributors who dish about TV, movies, music and books--and yours truly blogs there once a month:) Come and visit! We want to know what you think of the cool new design.

Are you a proud reader of romance like Joanna, or still firmly in the closet when it comes to your own circle of acquaintances? What do you say when someone asks you why you read romance?

111 comments:

PJ said...

Me?

limecello said...

Great post! I don't put myself in the "closet" as a romance reader, but I will say I don't tell every person I meet that I read romances right after I introduce myself :P

And congrats on the GR, PJ!
:( I was blocked from the page. For some reason the security program (WOT) I'm using tells me Romance Bandits is a dangerous site!!!

PJ said...

Hi Joanna! Welcome to the lair. I don't hide my romance reading which frequently puts me in the position of having to defend it. When asked why I read romance, I tell people that I read for enjoyment and I enjoy romance. I like the empowerment of women in romance. I like the happy endings. I like the conflict, conflict resolution, the give and take between the hero and heroine. I like that sometimes the hero "saves" the heroine but that often she saves herself or even saves the hero.

Your new site looks great. I'll stop by this weekend and take a closer look.

PJ said...

Joanna, your documentary sounds terrific. Are there any plans to televise it in the US?

Nancy said...

PJ, congratulations!

Christine, thanks for bringing Joanna to the lair.

Welcome, Joanna. Your documentary sounds wonderful. Like limecello, I don't immediately tell new acquaintances that I read romance, but I don't hide the fact either. I like the emotion, the happy endings, and the plots. My taste tends to run toward books with more intricate plots, though I also enjoy category romances.

And I like a romance or a romantic arc in pretty much any fiction I read, though I do read books that don't have one. If someone ridicules romance as trash, I tend to ask them what's trashy about two people trying to build a committed, monogamous relationship. That very often works.

PJ said...

Okay, it's after midnight and my team just lost in overtime so now they're out of the basketball tourney. The GR, dogs and I are headed to bed. See y'all with the sunshine!

Nancy said...

Pj, you said it better than I did in describing what draws you to the genre.

And I second your questions about the documentary airing in the US market.

Nancy said...

PJ, sorry your team lost. Mine didn't make it to the big dance. Better luck next year!

PJ said...

Thanks, Nancy. They're a very young team and were expected to finish at the bottom of the ACC so just making it to the tourney was a huge accomplishment - and they only lost by one point in overtime. If they can keep all their players from jumping to the pros they should have a couple really good years ahead of them. Now my loyalties won't be split for the rest of the tourney and I'll be cheering for UNC.

Christine Wells said...

Woohoo, PJ got the bird! Great to see you here, PJ. And that is a very dignified, well thought-out answer to those who want to scoff at our reading habits! I might use that, thanks!

Helen said...

Congrats PJ have fun with him

What a fantastic post I am one of the members of your group on facebook Joanna and love hearing about new books and some that I have read.

I am very proud to be a romance reader and never hide the fact that I read them and love them when I am discussing a book that I have just read or am reading some people will pull faces at me and I just say have you ever read one if not then you don't know what you are missing.

I have lent some of my books to some of the girls at work and they have loved them and often ask for more (I tell them where they can get them from) some of the guys I work with make comments as well my answer read one I am sure you will learn how to keep your girl happy LOL.

Christine thank you so much for inviting Joanna I will be checking the foxtel guide to see when the documentry is on and I will not be missing it. Off now to check out the blog.

Have Fun
Helen

Christine Wells said...

Hee, we are dangerous, Limecello... the pen is mightier than the sword, right? Although, knowing our resident weapons experts, there might be some of those floating around:)

PJ said...

Thanks, Christine! You're welcome to use it. As you could probably tell, I answer that question a lot. :)

PJ said...

LOL! Helen, I love your answer to the guys you work with!

Christine Wells said...

Nancy, that's so true. I think a lot of people have this view that romance novels are only about a man and a woman slavering over one another but it really is about how two people need to grow and change to build a successful relationship. I love the character development side of romance and that's what I find so fascinating, watching how these two people complete each other.

PJ said...

I'm also a member of Joanna's Facebook group and I love getting her romance novel recommendations. She's introduced me to some new-to-me authors and lots of good books.

Helen said...

Thanks PJ they always laugh at me when I tell them this but I say you can always learn something from reading it is very good for you in more ways than one.

I have added the popculturedivas to my favourites list and will be dropping in see you there

Have Fun
Helen

Christine Wells said...

Helen, you are a great defender and promoter of the genre! Thanks for commenting. Isn't Jojo's facebook group great? I like getting a reminder that a great new book is out.

Treethyme said...

Congrats, PJ -- I'm convinced the GR is avoiding me!

I loved this post! I joined that group the first day I was on Facebook. I started reading romance in the 1970s, fell away for awhile when I kind of outgrew all those virgins and their rich bosses, and rediscovered romance about the same time Nora Roberts started getting published.

For a long time, romance-reading was a guilty secret. I read "literature" when I commuted on the train, saved the romances for lunchtime reading in the semi-privacy of the break room.

I rediscovered Nora Roberts a few years ago, about the same time that I discovered Jenny Crusie.

After reading everything written by those two authors and a few others -- Linda Howard, Sandra Brown and mostly those who wrote romantic suspense as opposed to straight romance -- I began to panic.

What was I going to read? I had always read by author: ALL the Agatha Christie books, ALL the Mary Stewart books, ALL the Ngaio Marsh books -- and so on.

I started reading all the contemporary romances I could find. Then all the paranormals. Then the urban fantasy/romances. Then the historicals. Then even the erotica. I was seriously hooked.

About that time, my kids began to tease me about all those lusty book covers. At first, I felt guilty. Then, I realized I could read anything I wanted to, and my kids should understand that.

I started talking to them about what I read and why I enjoy reading romance. I'm still working on my daughter, trying to get her to read a few -- Jenny Crusie has autographed several for her, and I've sent her all of Anna C.'s books, too. She's young -- she'll learn.

I no longer hide my reading preferences; I rejoice in them. I'm struggling to write romances (sooo much harder than it looks), and I'm meeting authors and author-hopefuls and readers and all kinds of people who work in the world of romance.

It's empowering, exciting and it's a privilege to be a part of this community of women. We're all stronger for it.

Christine Wells said...

I ran into this problem the other day. An acquaintance wanted to go and buy my book and I felt compelled to warn her that it was a little risque. Oh, a bodice-ripper, says she.

Sigh.

PJ said...

Becke, don't give up hope. The wascally wooster hadn't been to my house for quite some time so who knows? You could be next!

Christine Wells said...

Becke, fantastic that you can now come out in the open about your romance reading. I often feel so immersed in romancelandia that it comes as a bit of a rude shock when I run up against that wall of prejudice that exists out there. And hey, we won't convert everyone, but they should at least know what it is they're dismissing. So often, they haven't read any romance at all and still they make these judgements. And what most of the scoffers don't realize is that most romance readers read tons of other fiction as well, including literary fiction.

Treethyme said...

I must admit, I order my erotica and any books with super hot covers online. I know so many people in the local bookstores, and they all think I'm this vanilla PTO mom who writes about gardens.

One of the sales clerks even warned me that a romance I was buying (NOT a particularly hot one) might be uncomfortably explicit for my tastes. Little did she know!!

I meant to ask, when will this documentary be available to those of us in the U.S.? I'd love to see it!

Treethyme said...

Those of you who like to read at work might be interested in these Vera Bradley book covers for paperbacks. I was given one for Christmas, by a friend who has seen the covers of the books I read.

Here's what they say about the book covers: "our quilted cover is guaranteed to make even the juiciest novel a little more…well, colorful"

And here's the link:

http://www.verabradley.com/Site/Store/ProductDetail.aspx?Sku=10316&

Christine Wells said...

Becke, Jojo is probably asleep right now, but I'll answer for her--I don't think it has distribution in the US yet, but let's hope it happens soon. i cannot wait to watch it, myself. Lucky me, being in Oz!

LOL about the sales staff at bookshops. Most people think I'm pretty conservative, too, and would raise their eyebrows if they see what I write!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, PJ, when did you last catch our wily rooster? Yay, you! I think he wants some chocolate turtles! I know I sure do ;-)

What a wonderful post! Everybody should read this, especially people who deride romance novels never having read one. Joanna, fantastic stuff! Welcome to the lair. Come back and see us again. And Christine, thank you for inviting Joanna.

Hey, cool it's on Ovation! I'll look forward to that in a big way. I remember when the show was on in Canada and being sad I couldn't see it.

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, and these days I'm out and proud about reading romance. At one stage, I wasn't and I'm ashamed of myself for being ashamed!

PJ said...

He hasn't been here in a long time, Anna. 'Bout time he visited! :)

Christine Wells said...

Becke, those covers are gorgeous! I'm a little ambivalent about using them, I have to say. On the one hand, I can understand that the cheesiness of the covers often don't reflect the book itself, and therefore what you're covering up isn't necessarily your penchant for romance, but rather, the silliness or fleshiness of the cover. On the other hand, the genre really has to learn to get along with those types of covers. They're never going to go away, so why not embrace them? As I said, I don't know the answer, really. I'm a bit on the fence on that one.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Becke and Helen, more power to you doing the conversation thang!

PJ said...

One of the sales clerks even warned me that a romance I was buying (NOT a particularly hot one) might be uncomfortably explicit for my tastes. Little did she know!!

I get that all the time, Becke. People think I'm this sweet, innocent thing. Little do they know! lol!

Christine Wells said...

Hey, Anna! thanks for popping in. I can't wait to see this documentary and I'm especially pleased it will be shown on ovation (where a lot of the literary snobs hang out:). Hopefully, Jojo will let us know when it airs.

flchen1 said...

Terrific post! I'm another who doesn't broadcast reading preferences but doesn't go out of the way to hide them either (although I do keep some of my hotter stuff away from the kids--some conversations I'm just not ready to have yet... when they're old enough, then OK ;) Amusingly even my youngest recognizes many of the books I have--when we're out at a bookstore or library, he'll point out covers and say, "Mommy, you have that one!")

Anyway, I love the hopefulness of romance, and I love enjoying the thrills of a budding relationship and seeing a hero and heroine resolve issues and come together sometimes to conquer an external issue, but always to demonstrate the power of love (sappy, I know). And I love my HEA! Plus, there's so much variety in romance--I can get just about any kind of plot, any kind of world, any kind of hero/ine I'm in the mood for! What's not to love about love?

Congrats on the GR, PJ! Gotta keep him out of the peanut M&Ms, right? ;)

jo robertson said...

Hi, Joanna, welcome to the Lair. How thrilling and exciting that you've created this documentary about romance readers and writers! Is there anyway we poor Yanks in the U.S. can watch it? I'd love to see it, and our genre certainly needs all the defending it can get.

I'm totally out of the closet now, but I remeber when I felt I had to strip the covers off my books, feeling the disapproving eyes of people around me. What a shame! We never had the same attitude towards pulp fiction, the male counterpart, I suppose, of romance's happy ending.

Tawny said...

Hi Joanna!! Welcome to the Lair and thank you for producing such an amazing sounding documentary. I'm bummed to not be able to see it here in the U.S. It sounds FAB!!

I have never hid my love of romance novel reading. My family used to scoff at it (scoff is my polite term *g*) and were less than impressed when I first told them I wanted to write. Then they attended RWA's Golden Heart/RITA ceremony one year when Jenny Cruisie was emcee and they were converted. Whether by her brilliant presentation, the scope of the industry noted in the ceremony or just the pomp and fun of it all, I don't know. Now they're my biggest advocates.

Christine Wells said...

Fedora, that's lovely, not sappy! I'm a sucker for the HEA, too.

I've always wondered why it is that love songs are generally acceptable but love stories aren't? 80% of pop songs are about love, and no one gets embarrassed about those.

Christine Wells said...

JoMama, let's hope a US channel picks up Joanna's doco.

I think most of us eventually hit that point where we don't care too much what other people think.

Christine Wells said...

Tawny, you've converted me to Blazes, so I wouldn't be surprised if your writing has converted your family as much as the award ceremony!

But I think Crusie's essays should be recommended reading for most journalists and anyone else who wants to dismiss the genre. The lady is pretty difficult to dismiss!

Anna Sugden said...

Welcome to the Lair, Joanna - grab a cabana boy, hockey hunk or gladiator and make yourself at home.

Me? I'm loud and proud about reading and writing romances. Things changed for me years ago, when I was more 'in the closet'. I entered a Mills & Boon writing contest and got through to a short list. They contacted our local paper who wanted to do a piece on me.

What's wrong with that? I was, at the time, a senior marketing executive in a fairly straight-laced major multi-national, fighting to be taken seriously as a female boss and living in a northern 'tough are'. Our site had the factory right there.

Anyway, I agreed - next thing I know, I'm a double-paged spread in the paper! Eek! But, other than a little mickey-taking from the sales team, most people were really cool about it. Loads of the factory workers came up to me and admitted they loved romances.

So, now I don't worry about what people think. No, I didn't win the contest (a long story about plagiarism, but never mind *g*)

I'm looking forward to seeing this programme, Joanna - hope they air it in England too.

Anna Sugden said...

PJ - congrats on the GR and hugs on your team's loss.

Helen - you're so right about what you learn from romance novels. My opals obsession is down to Emilie Richards' books!

I actually find it sad that people feel they have to justify their reading pleasure by saying "Oh, I picked up a trashy novel for the beach".

One other thing, I think it's great how the romance writing business works really hard, from top to bottom, to deal with the ignoramuses (ignorami?) who knock romances.

Margay said...

I can't remember the last time someone asked me that question, but if they asked me today, I'd ask them, "Why do you breathe?" Because it's natural, of course! Romance novels are great escapes from the mundane of our every day lives and they give us hope that our lives can turn out better. Heck, if a romance heroine can overcome a jealous stepmother, unsympathetic father, an arranged marriage to an older man who just doesn't fulfill her needs, only to come face to face with a mysterious, brooding, drop-dead gorgeous, secretive guy who may or may not have killed his first wife and she could be next on his list, and yet she manages to find true love (not to mention her first big O), then I think I can overcome bickering teens and feuding siblings. A good romance book is like Lindt chocolates - rich, dark, and utterly satisfying. And one just isn't enough.
Margay

PJ said...

A good romance book is like Lindt chocolates - rich, dark, and utterly satisfying. And one just isn't enough.

Amen!

Gannon Carr said...

Here, here, Margay! :) I read romance for ME and my enjoyment, so I don't really care what others think about it. But I have converted a few. ;) Like I tell them, you don't know what you're missing, so give it a whirl.

Excellent comeback, PJ! I feel exactly the same way. And congrats on the GR. Don't spoil him with too many chocolate goodies. :)

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi limecello:

I understand your POV - I think when we're with likeminded people we do love to share our love of romance -but some people can be - well a tad snobby when it comes to "fiction". Thanks for your comment! ;)

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi PJ: Thanks for your comments! I agree with you - love that romance is empowering! And I hope my documentary will be seen in the U.S. - our distributor is working on it. And thanks for the compliment on popculturedivas! ;) Hope you and everyone else enjoys it! We're thrilled to have Romance Bandit Christine Wells also writing for us! ;)

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Nancy: I'm with you! Funny how we romantic movies or romantic comedies don't inspire such "negativity". And yet romantic comedy or romance in general in book form does. Thanks for stopping by!

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Christine and everyone at Romance Bandits - thank you so much for inviting me to write for your blog. I should have mentioned that in my posting!

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Helen: Thank you so much for stopping by and I'm glad you enjoy my facebook group "A Love of Romance Novels". We'll just have to keep working to convert the non-believers! ;)

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hey PJ - thanks for the compliment about my facebook group. I have a lot of fun with that - however it has greatly contributed to my ever growing TBR pile! I fear I'll never catch up - but I'll have fun trying! ;) I too learn so much from the other members - both readers and authors alike - I have discovered sooo many new authors - it's wonderful!

Michelle Miles said...

Lovely post! I wish we got that show here in the States. I would love to see it!

I've loved romance novels since I was in my teens. Back then, I started with the "tame" stories my mother read when she was a girl. Victoria Holt was one of my favorite authors then.

Joanna D'Angelo said...

BTW everyone - I'm so sorry I'm late logging on - I was catching up this morning watching one of my fave shows - "McLeod's Daughters" - Australian show about a group of women who run a cattle ranch in Australia. I think it's run its course in Australia - but we're behind in Canada. I really enjoy - the women are richly drawn and the story lines are relevant. And lots of hunky cowboys to admire too - although the most recent ep I saw today was soooo sad. One of the main characters - Steve (my fave character in the show) just lost her beautiful wonderful husband Alex and she was nine months pregnant. They really handled the story beautifully.

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Helen: Thanks for adding popculturedivas to your favourites! woohoo! And I LOVE that you are educating the men at your work. I think you're right - if more men read romance they'd get how women think. Someone made a funny comment about that in my documentary as well.

Louisa Cornell said...

I'm definitely not a closet reader or writer or romance. I always have a book to read at work during my breaks. I get lots of smart comments when people see what I am reading. Usually followed by someone else saying "Yes, and she writes them too." There are quite a few people at work who have been supportive of my efforts to get published. However, there are just as many saying "Why do you waste your time reading those books?" To which I reply : "They're educational. You should try them."

That is my answer for people who really don't care what my answer is. They'll never get it.

For those who might really want to know, I have to tell them that a great romance novel has it all - love, adventure, intrigue, comedy, passion, action, a wonderful story and lessons about life and relationships. What more could anyone want? Romance novels are my escape, my haven from all the madness loose in the world today. Because my own happily ever after was cut short I like reading about the possibility of a lifelong happily ever after. That is what romance is all about - Possibilities!

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Treethyme: Thanks so much for being a member of my facebook group "A Love of Romance Novels" and for your insightful comment. I think many of us went through that - "embarrassed" stage where we didn't want to admit we read romance - but I think that's changed - so many younger women who read romance today are proud of it - and there is a lot of overlap especially with the urban fantasy books - lots of guys reading it too! ;)

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Christine:

I agree with you completely - romance readers are just well read! We read everything. In fact that is true of most women - we read more than men and we read across the board.

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Anna:
Thank you for your comment! I'm so honoured to have been invited here to be a part of your terrific blog! I just wanted to say that I try to read as many blogs as I can - but sometimes it's hard to get to all of them - especially when we're also trying to write! ;)

Joanna D'Angelo said...

I also wanted to add that I am in touch with my executive producer to find out when my doc might be airing on Ovation - I am so excited that it'll be seen in Australia and New Zealand - such a great romance community there! I keep meeting more and more readers and authors online - what a vibrant group you are! And may I say Australian men are GORGEOUS! Every time I see an Australian actor on TV or in film I wonder - what the heck! Is it the water?

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Flchen1: Thanks for your comment - yes I agree with you -romance is hopeful - and it's hopeful in a broad sense - beyond "relationships" it's hopeful about the triumph of good and the spirit of humanity (I know that's quite a statement - but romance readers know what I'm talking about! We get the same positive feeling from reading romances as we get from reading "Harry Potter".

Joanna D'Angelo said...

And sorry gals - I went to bed early last night - I'm on Eastern Standard (NYC) time - I saw many of the comments started just after midnight - normally I'm up but for some reason couldn't keep my eyes open last night.

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Jo: Thank you for dropping by - and one thing I forgot to mention is that I believe romance is subversive - because of how empowering it is for women and because the woman always triumphs. Also even the traditional category romances have a positive impact on the women who read them. I know that some people might disagree with that - but I think the perception is changing.

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Tawny: Wow! How wonderful is that - I love Jenny Crusie too - the way she analyzes and describes romance fiction is amazing! We also interviewed a wonderful professor in our doc - Pamela Regis - who wrote "A Natural History of the Romance Novel" -it's a wonderful book and she was terrific in our film - one of our main experts.

Christie Kelley said...

Great Post! And congrats PJ on the GR.

I was a closet romance readers for years. I don't think anyone but my husband knew I read romance. But when I started writing, I came out of the closet. I have no problem telling anyone why I read and write romance.

And when people ask me why I read and write romance, the answer is simple--I love to read an emotionally fulfilling story. I don't want to get emotionally involved with a character only to have them die in the last chapter. There's enough pain in the world.

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hey Christine - I agree with your comment about love songs - I mean really - from rock stars, hip hop, country, pop - men and women - they all sing about love! We know better when it comes to romance fiction.

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Anna (Sugden): What a great story! Remember "Norma Rae" starring Sally Field where she tries to get her fellow factory workers to unionize - your story reminded me of that - **grin**) when you came out about being a romance writer and reader -your co-workers really rallied behind you! Oh - and I would LOVE for our doc to be broadcast in the UK - that's one of the markets that our distributor is trying really hard to get into.

Joan said...

Welcome to the Lair, Joanna. It is a dangerous site. At some point you're bound to lose a keyboard from laughing and spewing tea/Diet Coke/coffee at the reparte.

Thank you for your documentary! Though I've yet to see it here in the US, the pride and enthusiasm leapt off the pages of your post!

I've never hidden the fact that I read romance and that's been since I was a teenager, about....well, never mind how many years ago.

I get that all the time, Becke. People think I'm this sweet, innocent thing.

You mean you aren't?

*thunk*

{Raises up on one elbow grinning}

Sorry your team is out. Which one was it? Mine is still there. You may have heard of them. No. 1 seed?

UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE!!!

Go Cards!

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Margay: Thanks for stopping by - yes I agree completely with you - you make a great point - romance is about "overcoming" obstacles of every shape and size - it's about prevailing - giving women faith in their own strength - not just in relationships but in doing for themselves - being stronger and dealing with life's many problems - both big and small.

Cate Masters said...

Hi Joanna! Congrats on having Who's Afraid of Happy Endings so well received. I wish it was available in the US!
I find myself in the position of having to defend writing romance - to other authors, mostly, who tend to look down their noses at the genre. I came a little late to it but I'm having a blast! I've never met a more supportive, fun group of authors. So I say let the others shun us - we'll continue the party without them!

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Gannon:
Great point! I think for so many women - we work so hard, constantly doing so much for others that tucking into a romance novel is something we can do just for ourselves - it's a wonderful treat - and no calories to worry about -well if we stay away from the chocolate while we're reading LOL! ;)

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Michelle: - Don't you just love to reminisce about the first books that you read as a teenager - we get so nostalgic about that - for me it was Kathleen Woodiwiss - as I mentioned in my article - but I also read Brenda Joyce, Rosemary Rogers, Valerie Sherwood, Linda Ladd, Mallory Burgess so many Avon authors (back in the '80s) many of whom I think have moved on to mainstream suspense.

Caren Crane said...

Joanna, welcome to Bandits' Lair!

(PJ, be careful with the GR. And Limecello, Romance Bandits is a dangerous site. Too...much...happiness! *g*)

Joanna, I am so sorry I haven't seen your documentary yet. I am dying to see it! Will it be released for sale, do you think?

As to what sort of romance reader I am, I tailor how much information I share to my audience in most cases. If I see someone browsing romance in the bookstore or grocery, I certainly say something. If I see someone reading a romance in the break room at work, I make sure to comment on it. I am "out there" to my friends, fellow Girl Scout leaders and pretty much anyone else I encounter.

But do I share the fact with everyone at church? Not unless it comes up. It is an audience where there may be alarm, concern or disapproval (or I could find fellow readers). Why invite the conversation when I anticipate disagreement? If I assume it might make someone else uncomfortable, I don't bring it up.

However, I am quick to defend romance if the need arises. On a scale of openness, I am probably 80%. I do, however, defend the right of others to read and write whatever they wish, even if it's not to my taste.

I simply haven't found a way to address all objections, especially those who find explicit sex in films and literature amoral. I don't want them judging me for reading it, so who am I to judge them for not approving of it?

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Louisa: I agree with you - romance has so much to offer - rich storylines and truly wonderful characters that we can connect with - good luck with your writing! I hope you get your happy ending in real life too.

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Christie: That is something we heard a lot while making the documentary - about needing to read something with an uplifting ending because there is so much negativity- I don't think that's necessarily escapism - but rather a boost to human spirit.

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Joan: What a great group the Bandits are! I thank you all for your warm welcome! Sorry - not really following the sports talk - I'm more into hockey and soccer (football) ;) Well how could I not be - I'm Canadian of Italian origin - so I guess that means hockey and soccer right? ;)

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Cate: Thanks so much! And I agree with you - the romance community is WONDERFUL - everyone was so helpful and accommodating to us - authors, publishers/editors - I wish we had more time in the doc to feature everyone we spoke to. I think it would have been longer than a Ken Burns doc!

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Caren: I think that's true - as romance readers (and writers) that does trouble me that people can be judgemental about romance - that's why I wanted to make the documentary - the fact that I was making a positive statement about romance was subversive!

Joanna D'Angelo said...

I also wanted to add that "Who's Afraid of Happy Endings?" is available for sale - you can contact my executive producer at this link http://www.gapcentertainment.com/in_distribution/003.htm

I'm not sure what the price of the DVD is - but there would also be shipping and handling involved. Still for me the greatest thrill would be a TV air date in the US and the UK as well - fingers crossed! ;)

Beth said...

Welcome to the lair, Joanna! Your documentary sounds fascinating *g*

I never hid my love of reading romance although when I first started writing romance I kept that fact to myself (well, my husband knew but that was it *g*) To be honest, I was worried about how people would react but luckily, that only lasted a year and had alot to do with my kids attending parochial school at the time.

Now, of course, I'm proud to say I'm a romance author and a writer of category books :-)

I love Christie's answer about reading romances because she loves an emotionally satisfying story. That's exactly why I read and write them as well.

I also think that quite a few people read romance and don't even realize it - especially those people reading stories that combine romance with suspense, mystery or paranormal elements *g*

Treethyme said...

Joanna - It's trite, but true: times have changed. Not only have the books changed, but the audience has changed. My daughter and I were talking about some romance we saw on TV (or it might have been a movie we rented), and the heroine had a secret that was destroying the relationship. It was a biggie, but still...

My daughter's response was, "Why doesn't she just tell him?" I could see her point, but could totally relate to the heroine. Because in my generation, relationships weren't as open as they are today. Even after being married almost 40 years, being as open as young people are today can be a struggle at times.

I think it's the same with "coming out" about our taste in books. I was thinking the other day, if I ever do get published in romance, I would never want to do a book signing in my home town, because there would be snickering up the wazoo.

But then I thought -- so what! That's their problem, not mine. I'd have my bad moments, but I'd do it anyway.

I gave my daughter one of the book covers because I haven't converted her yet. I used the one I was given once, but usually I'm out of the closet when I read these days!

jo robertson said...

So true about love songs, Christine. Some of them are downright embarrassing in their sentimentality! Do you suppose it's because romance readers are primarily women who've historically had a second-citizen position in society?

I remember having a very macho teaching colleague who went to a Jane Austen conference and came back to report to the English Department. He said he never wanted to read another Austen book! His world of Hemingway and Faulkner and Kerouac wasn't big enough for Austen, apparently.

jo robertson said...

You answered my question about the doc airing in the U.S., Christine. Maybe Lifetime will pick it up :-D. They're airing a series of Nora Roberts' books translated to TV this month, I believe.

Kathryn S said...

Oh god, me with blonde hair! lol. There's a blast from the past. What wonderful fun it was making that documentary. I felt like a true diva! And I have to brag and say that's the cover for Elusive Passion -- my first book -- all done up in blue and pink. Hi Jojo!

Okay, enough of that.

I don't hide my romance reading and I don't hide that I write it either. People are usually great about it, but I do get the odd ignorant person -- or jerk. If someone says, "I don't read those books" I generally say, "Oh, how bad for you" and express sympathy. Or if someone gets snarky I tell them romance readers statistically have better sex lives than non-romance readers. Or, if they insult what I do, I tell them that I get paid thousands of dollars to do what I love -- and inquire as to how much they like their job.

But, like I said, people are usually very polite.

jo robertson said...

Oh, I forgot to say that since I've come out of the closet with my romance books, I watch woman everywhere reading theirs -- at the airport, the doctor's office, in Mickey D's -- and I almost always mention what they're reading and what they think about the book. It's particularly satisfying the mention that the particular book was written by a guest on the Romance Bandits!

jo robertson said...

Thanks for providing the link to purchase the doc, Joanna. I think my colleague teacher friend (not the macho one LOL) would be interested in showing it in her Advanced Placement classes.

Anna Sugden said...

I Love McLeod's Daughters too. And used to be a big Flying Doctors fan, back in the day (I lost interest after the first hunky doc left the series!)

Virginia said...

Congrats PJ on grabbing the GR today! He is moving around alot lately.

Great post Joanna! I read romance for the happy endings and I am proud of it. I don't hide in a closet and will let anyone know that I love romance novels. We have to get romance from somewhere in our lifes. It is a shame that life isn't more like a romance novel, wouldn't that be great?

Julia Smith said...

Hi Christine and Joanna!

I once had quite a discussion on this topic with my late friend and serious hippie, Pam, who knew I was an intelligent woman but could not understand my position that romance fiction was feminist. Pam was a child of the actual hippie movement (born in the late 40's) and was a hardcore Eco Warrior. She couldn't reconcile her worldly writer friend (me) championing romance. But I told her that women are now owning their own sexuality and openly writing and reading about it through the romance genre. To me, that's just as important as having reproduction rights over your own body.

Wonderful post, Joanna - and I'm so excited that your documentary will be airing on another continent!

Treethyme said...

Kathryn, great to see you here. I'm relatively new to historicals and haven't read yours yet, but I've read all your paranormals and loved them!

Donna MacMeans said...

Joanna - Welcome to the lair! What an interesting guest! I really want to see your documentary. I certainly can't deny reading romance as I'm a romance author (smile) but in my earlier days as a business executive I would never conscienously pick up a romance novel. Executives didn't read that stuff. I only read best sellers. Little did I know that those bestsellers were romances with flowers on the cover (as opposed to the hunky guy). Now I'm proud of my reading preference and sadly shake my head at those that say with a haughty tone that they don't indulge and murmur "you don't know what you're missing."

Suzanne Welsh said...

Welcome to the Lair, Joanna! We're so proud and happy to have such a porponent for the romance novel industry and our readers with us today.

I haven't read all the comments, so this may have already been asked, but is this documentary available in the US? or will it be airing in the US any time soon?

And as all the Banditas will tell you, I'm a BIG romance reader and proudly let everyone and anyone know about it! Always have been.

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Beth: I so agree with you - I love the emotional aspect of romance books - I'm glad you can shout it from the rooftops now! Congrats on your writing as well!

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Treethyme: I understand but you know when you get published - I bet if you did a signing at your local library or book store in your town -you might be surprised at the reaction. I was kinda worried about having my Dad watch my documentary - when it premiered on TV in Canada - there are some risque elements in it - and it's about romance fiction of course - and he's an Italian immigrant - very old school. But you know what - he really liked it and he thought it was very well done! So I was happy about that. I dedicated the film to my mom who passed away in 2004 from cancer - she loved romantic movies and she loved the telenovellas and -she loved reading the Italian graphic novellas - They used photos of actors/actresses as opposed to illustrations - I don't know if they still have them in Italy - but she loved them.

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hey Kathryn! One of my favourite gals! Well, you were wonderful in the doc! So open and fun and witty! We had so much fun following you around at the RWA conference in Reno in 2005. And then in NYC and at your home in CT!

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hey Anna: Oh - I don't think we get the Flying Doctors in Canada - but you're right the shows are better with those hunks! Well, they can act of course!

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Donna! Great to meet you all. You know when we were filming the doc in NYC we had stopped for lunch somewhere - we were so tired lugging all of our gear around and we were kind of just zoning out for a bit then I turned to the right and I saw a middle aged man in a business suit reading a Nora Roberts book (not a JD Robb ;)- at the table next to us - and we just smiled and said - yup! very cool!

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Virginia - thank you! And I agree - I wish there were more real happy endings! I think this is why when we hear about a happy ending in real life it means so much.

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Julia! Julia also writes for popculturedivas - as does Kathryn Smith! Julia is one of my favourite bloggers! I always love her articles on our blog and on her own blog http://julia-mindovermatter.blogspot.com/

We talked about the feminist aspect of romance fiction with many of the wonderful authors we interviewed - Eloisa James, Jennifer Crusie and with Pam Regis as well - they all had fascinating things to say about the feminist side of romance.

Christine Wells said...

Jojo, a very belated welcome to the lair! I've been catching zzz down here in Oz or I would have been here sooner.

My goodness, we've had lots of comments. That's great! Thanks everyone for making Jojo welcome:)

Jojo, I don't watch much television and never really got into McLeod's daughters, but I did see Posie Graeme-Evans, who came up with the series concept and wrote the first series, speak at a writers' festival one year. She was absolutely hilarious and very informative about what you need to do if you're writing a television series and want to see it air. She's written historical fiction as well, a very talented woman!

Jojo, did you encounter anything unexpected in your travels when you were filming the documentary?

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Suzanne: Thank you for the warm welcome! I hope our doc will be available in the US some time this year or next. I think it would be a great fit for Lifetime too! I think someone mentioned that earlier. :) When we were shopping around for a distributor - everyone who saw the doc loved it but some felt that it would be a tough sell. imagine that! Because it's a doc about books. We gave them all the info to go with the doc - all the stats - more than 60 million people in NA alone read romance - there's an audience for it! It's also harder to find time slots for docs on TV these days.

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Christine - It's tomorrow for you! I read an article about Posie Graeme Evans - what inspired the show McLeod's Daughters - she was leafing through a magazine and saw a picture of a model on horseback with a cowboy hat on and thought for an ad about something and she thought what a great idea to do a show about cowgirls!

We filmed the doc in Reno at the 2005 RWA Conference - that was a great experience. I hope I can go back - we had a load of fun - we filmed Kathryn Smith sword fighting with Kelly Boyce - (**G**) There were a lot of fun moments. Writers and readers alike - just loved talking to us - they really wanted to get across how much they love romance. The tough moments always have to do with technical aspects or having to cross the border with all your gear or when you're at the airport and you have to go through so much through customs because of the gear. We had a terrible time when we flew back from Reno and we had a stop over in San Francisco - we didn't want our tapes to go through the x-ray machine - in Reno they just let us through - they did a manual swab of the tapes - but in San Fran they absolutely would not do a manual swab - so my co-director and I missed our flight because were were running late - and our camera guy Peter had to lug all the gear on his own on the flight home. We then had to stay overnight and then contact our producer just to make sure that it was okay to put the tapes through - we would never have left the tapes in our suitcases because the x-ray machines they use for luggage are so powerful that there is a worry your footage could get erased. But we spoke with a very man at security the next day - who assured us that it would be okay and he allowed us to wrap the tapes in our jackets as well when they went through - he told us that filmmakers always worry about that. But luckily all went well. So those are the "adventures" you have when filming on the road. ;)

Christine Wells said...

Wow, that sounds like you had an anxious time at the airport! I find airports a huge source of anxiety, but worrying that all your hard work would get erased--you must have been nervous wrecks! Glad it worked out for you!

I've no doubt you'll get distribution in the US. Those statistics are pretty hard to argue with!

Love the idea of romance being subversive as well as empowering for women. I always think romance novels show that no matter how powerful a man is in the patriarchal structure, he can always be brought to his knees by love:)

Pat Cochran said...

Congratulations, PJ!!

Great blog, Miss Joanna! Romance (the print kind) is a huge part of
my life, a huge enjoyable part of
my life!! Hope we in the US will
soon get to see your documentary.
I've not had to do any explaining
about my romance novels, which is
good because I feel my reading
choices are mine and mine alone!

Pat Cochran

jo robertson said...

Joanna, I followed the link you gave us for your documentary, got an email addy, but everything's bouncing.

Do you have another linc for us?

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Jo:

here's the link to my executive producer's web site GAPC Entertaiment.

http://www.gapcentertainment.com/in_distribution/003.htm

It lists info about my doc and contact info for Ken Hovey who handles DVD sales.

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Christine - I know I love that about romance too - tough alpha males going all soft for love!

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hi Pat Thank you! I hope you'll get a chance to see it in the US too! I'm going to e-mail the link to this blog to my producer! So she can tell our distributor about how much you all want to watch it in the UK and the US! ;)

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Christine - I definitely will do my best to find out when Happy Endings airs on Ovation in Aus/NZ. I know you gals are amazing down under! BTW have I also mentioned that one of my fave TV shows ever is "Xena: Warrior Princess"? Shot in NZ - what a kick-butt show! ;)

Christine Wells said...

Joanna, just coming in to thank you so much for being with us today. We've had a lot of fun and wish you all the best with your endeavours!

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Thank you Christine for inviting me! And thank you to all the Banditas! I've had so much fun chatting with you today. You have such a great community here!

Cheers to romance fiction!

;)

Leanna Renee Hieber said...

Thanks for making this film, Joanna, you make us proud. I can't take romance out of my writing or my outlook on the world if I tried. I'm really glad it's getting easier to talk about writing cross-genre romance (dark fantasy romance in my case) and not have everyone wondering what the heck you mean. The industry has cracked wide open and people are paying attention and bucking the lit snob trend. (It's why we started Lady Jane's Salon here in NYC!). Thanks for doing your part, Joanna, keep up the great work!

Chiron said...

Great interview and your documentary sounds fascinating. This rocks:

But it also means she falls in love with herself as she overcomes both internal and external conflicts. She changes. She grows. She conquers. She loves.

Basically all quests are about self-growth and love is all about relating not just to another person but to yourself. Brilliant!

Thanks for this wonderful interview and I hope to have an opportunity to see your documentary some day!!

Smiles,
Chiron O'Keefe
www.chironokeefe.blogspot.com

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