Coming Out as a Chick Lit Writer

Writing What You Enjoy

by Georgina Penney 

Georgina Penneysml

“I expected so much better of you!”

My brain went plink and I tried my best not to have an over-dramatic moment at the friend reading the first page of a manuscript I’d just spent years working on.

“Ah… what did you expect?” I asked.

“I don’t know… something more you. Have you read God of Small Things by Arundharti Roy? Something like that. You’re so good at describing things! I wanted that. I wanted something more… more…literary”

If you’re a chick lit writer or romance writer who has a history in literary studies like I do, this whole “coming-out-of-the-closet” conversation is probably your worst nightmare when you’re first starting out. It was definitely mine and I’d been anticipating it for ages.

Although, expecting it and experiencing the hot-cold flush of having my work judged against a spectacularly talented Man-Booker Prize winner was vastly different. For one thing, in my dreams I’d come up with a wonderfully witty and quite bawdy defense. What I managed was the kind of noise that a cow makes when its tummy’s too full of fibrous grassy goodness. Kind of a blaaart sound if I remember correctly.

And then, unexpectedly came a massive wave of relief. I was out to the last of my friends and it wasn’t a big deal. I’ve never written with aspirations of winning the Man-Booker. (For starters, can you imagine how stiff and proper that awards ceremony must be? I shudder at the thought of wearing Spanx to contain my square bottom for that long). I write chick lit and romance; fluffy stories with a bit of naughtiness, a bit of sadness and a giddy, joy-filled ending all rolled into one. I write books for people like myself; people who have way too much going on in their lives to digest a whole lot of seriousness along with their morning cornflakes. And that’s awesome.

IrrepressibleYou_coverconceptSince my debut novel Irrepressible You has been released, I’ve discovered that there’s a whole lot of ladies (and a surprisingly large number of gentlemen) who are looking for the same thing I am in their reading. Like me, they’ve got Kindles, Kobos and nooks stuffed full of stories that make their busy days just that little bit happier, the stress-weight in their chests that little bit lighter and that cause their happy hormones to do a tap dance instead of hiding truculently behind the bike sheds.

To be able to write books that can do that for people, I think, is one of the most wonderful things in the world.

Georgina Penney first discovered romance novels when she was eleven and has been a fan of the genre ever since. It took her another eighteen years to finally sit in front of a keyboard and get something down on the page but that’s alright, she was busy doing other things until then. Today she lives with her wonderful husband, Tony in a wooden stilt house on the edge of the Bornean jungle along with a contrary stray cat named Milli Vanilli.

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3 Responses to Coming Out as a Chick Lit Writer

  1. What an encouraging post. “Writing what you enjoy.” How can it be any other way? 🙂

  2. Lisa Ireland says:

    I’m a wee bit nervous about this reaction from my friends when my book comes out in July. Very few of them have read it (umm…grand total of one!) I’ve told them I write rural romance but I’m not sure they understand.

    Thanks for a great post Georgina!

  3. roslyngroves says:

    Reblogged this on My Written Romance and commented:
    It is so important to remain true to your own voice, your own heart. Write what you enjoy and what you like, rather than writing something to satisfy someone else’s preconceptions.

    Georgina Penney, my glittery Ninja, puts her experience of how she handled these reactions rather well, don’t you think?

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