In the gutter, methinks... In the political race for Texas State Comptroller, Democrat Fred Head is running against Republican Susan Combs. Ms. Combs wrote and published a romance novel entitled THE PERFECT MATCH in 1990 and Mr. Head is labeling her a pornographer because of it. This one you have to see to believe. Here's Mr. Head up his tight...ahem...Mr. Head's website with the book cover and snippets of text he selected to display from the novel.
Now...I'm a Texan, and I'm a democrat. But I'm also a romance novelist. And I detest sleaze campaigns. This truly galls me and, though I'm not usually one to get into things, this morning, I sent the following letter to Fred Head.
Dear Mr. Head,
I am a Texas Democrat and a novelist. Though I currently write mainstream fiction, I wrote three romance novels in the past. For you to make your opponent's romance novel A PERFECT MATCH an issue in this campaign is sleazy politics, in my opinion. For the first time in years, I am considering casting my vote for a Republican. Why? Labeling an entire piece of work "pornographic" based only on snippets of text pulled from the book is ignorant and unfair, and I cannot in good conscience vote for a candidate who makes claims based on imcomplete information and misguided assumption. Have you read your opponent's book from cover-to-cover? Have you ever read ANY romance novel? If so, how many? I have read hundreds, and though I have not read A PERFECT MATCH in its entirety, I do know that pornography denigrates love and degrades human beings, while books in the romance genre are typically uplifting stories about the power of love. Sex may be an _expression of that love, but sex within a loving relationship is not degrading. According to Romance Writers of America (RWA), an organization of over 9,000 members, "in a romance, the main plot concerns two people falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. The conflict in the book centers on the love story. The climax in the book resolves the love story." RWA goes on to explain that, "romance novels are based on the idea of an innate emotional justice -- the notion that good people in the world are rewarded and evil people are punished. In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded emotional justice and unconditional love." In my writing of romance novels and vast romance reading experience, I find this definition to be true. Does this sound like pornography to you?
This summer, the Romance Writers of America held their annual conference in Atlanta. At the "Readers for Life" Literacy Autographing that took place during the event and was open to the public, romance authors autographed and sold their novels, donated free of charge by their publishers, and raised sixty-four thousand dollars for literacy. Through RWA, romance authors and publishers have now passed the half-million mark in overall giving to literacy. Do we sound like "pornographers" who should apologize for what we do? Or do we sound like good, concerned citizens? "Professional, creative artists," as RWA states, who "contribute to constructive action in culture."
Mr. Head, as a Texas Democrat, I ask that you admit you jumped to the conclusion that romance novels were pornography on an assumption. Stop this type of smear campaigning against your opponent and stick to the relevant issues. You might also apologize to the many romance readers and writers you have offended by alleging they read and write porn. In case you didn't know, Romance Fiction accounts for $1.2 billion in sales each year, 54.9% of all popular mass market fiction sold, and 33.9% of all fiction sold. Our state and country need smart Democrats in office again. Please be one of them.
Well, I guess I better get busy writing my "pornography." I'm under deadline...