Cover image for North American romance writers
North American romance writers
Mussell, Kay.
Publication Information:
Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xiii, 279 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS374.L6 N67 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



In this work, Kay Mussell and Johanna Tunon collect essays by contemporary North American romance authors who have come to prominence, directly or indirectly, as a result of the huge change in the field of romance writing which started in the early 1980s. New publishing houses began to compete with Harlequin, and the North American romance novel came into its own as a genre. In their essays on their own work, each of the writers in this volume describes her own "take" on the romance novel today and how she has adapted the form to accommodate her own voice and concerns. Collectively, these writers have used the romance genre to address a broad range of social issues and problems. Presenting these essays together provides a window into the creativity and originality of some of the best writers in the field.

Author Notes

Kay Mussell received her Ph.D. in American civilization at the University of Iowa. She is currently professor of literature and American studies at American University, where she also serves as associate dean of academic affairs.
Johanna Tunon is working on her Ed.D. in instructional technology and distance education from Nova Southeastern University. She is currently head of distance library services at NSU's Einstein Library in Fort Lauderdale.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Taking a highly selective and somewhat unusual approach, this volume profiles more than 30 contemporary writers who are meant to represent the shift since the early 1980s from stories based on British models to works published in the U.S. and Canada, with North American settings. The editors, a literature professor and a librarian, explain in their preface that they chose writers "who represented a variety of genres" and "whose novels led us to believe they would have something interesting to say about their own work." Although not limited to award winners, the book includes a number of writers who have been honored by Romance Writers of America or by other romance organizations and magazines. Among those who made the cut are established writers such as Jo Beverly, Sandra Kitt (the first black woman to publish with Harlequin), and Nora Roberts, and relative newcomers such as Jennifer Crusie and Lorraine Heath. For the most part, the writers' works have been published in paperback series, such as those from Harlequin and Silhouette. Entries are arranged A^-Z and provide pseudonyms, a brief profile, and a list of works. Biographical details are kept to a minimum--no dates or places of birth. The information provided for each work includes publication date, publisher, and awards. In addition, each writer was asked to contribute an essay, and these, taken as a whole, offer some interesting perspectives on the writing process and on the evolution of the genre. Entries vary in length from four to ten pages, depending on the extent of the bibliography and the length of the essay. The volume concludes with an extensive bibliography that includes scholarly studies, magazine and journal articles, dissertations, and lectures. The index helps to link pseudonyms with the proper entries. It can be difficult to find information on some of these writers, since they are published mainly in paperback. Romance fans will enjoy the personal touch provided by the essays in this volume, and students will appreciate the bibliographical information. Recommended for public libraries, and for academic libraries supporting genre fiction studies.

Choice Review

Ramsdell focuses on romantic literature currently available, updating her first edition, Happily Ever After (1987). The volume is well organized and easy to use. Part 1, an introduction to romance, includes chapters that define and give a brief history of romance fiction, describe the appeal of romance, advise the reader, and help build collections. Part 2 contains information on gay and lesbian, inspirational, and ethnic/multicultural romances, and on mysteries and sagas. Each chapter defines the subgenre, provides its history, and accounts for its appeal. A brief bibliography lists additional readings, as does each chapter. Part 3, appropriately titled "Research Aids," provides information about, e.g., criticism, dissertations and theses, popular press articles, biographical and bibliographical information, useful Internet sites, periodicals and review sources, miscellaneous romance reference sources, authorship aids, societies and organizations, commercial online sources, awards, collections, and publishers. Three appendixes list core collections by subgenre; style, plot pattern, or theme for selected romance writers; and a young adult bibliography. Mussell and Tu~non take a very different approach, choosing authors who represent the editors' own interests or whom they believed "would have something interesting to say about their own work." This work is not comprehensive but includes a variety of historical and contemporary romance writers. An eight-page introduction summarizes the history of romance literature. A brief biography, a bibliography, and a list of awards are provided for each of the 30 authors included. Entries include essays of one to eight pages written by the authors, dwelling on influences on their work, the contributions they believed they made to the genre, and the relation of their work to feminism and the women's movement. Among the authors included are Jo Beverly, Justine Dare Davis, Kathleen Eagle, Susan Johnson, Mary Jo Putney, and Nora Roberts. The volume ends with a long bibliography citing 20th-century popular romances, which also includes scholarly articles, books, speeches, ERIC documents, dissertations, theses, and magazine and newspaper articles that focus on issues and trends rather than specific authors. Both titles are valuable additions to the field. Ramsdell's book is intended primarily for librarians (especially those not familiar with romance literature), although it may also interest researchers and students of popular culture or women's studies. Mussell and Tu~non provide interesting insights into the minds of the authors. Both books are reasonably priced and would be welcome in collections of romance literature. L. A. Morrow-Ruetten; Governors State University

Table of Contents

Kay MussellJudith ArnoldMary BaloghJo BeverleyLoretta ChekaniSue Civil-BrownJudy CuevasSharon Curtis and Tom CurtisJustine Dare DavisEileen DreyerKathleen EaglePatricia GaffneyAlison HartLorraine HeathTami HoagSusan JohnsonDara JoyLynn KerstanSandra KittSusan KrinardJill Marie LandisPamela MorsiMaggie OsborneMary Jo PutneyAlicia RasleyEmilie RichardsPaula Detmer RiggsNora RobertsBarbara SamuelKathleen Gilles SeidelJennifer Crusie SmithJohanna Tunon
List of Abbreviationsp. ix
Prefacep. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introductionp. 1
This I Do for Mep. 11
Do It Passionately or Not at Allp. 19
An Honorable Profession: The Romance Writer and Her Charactersp. 29
Historical Romance--The Path I've Takenp. 37
The Defense Restsp. 45
On Writing, Art, Issues, and Publishing in Spite of It Allp. 53
An Act of Faithp. 59
From Badge to Books, or "You Wear a Badge and You Write What?"p. 65
And I Still Write Romancep. 73
Forget the Fluffp. 79
Coming Out of the Closet and Locking It Behind Usp. 87
The Key Formula in Romance: A Woman's Questp. 93
Gentle Heroesp. 101
The Contemporary Heroine: A Woman for Our Timep. 105
The Joy of Writingp. 113
The Heroine as Modern Role Modelp. 119
In Praise of Love and Follyp. 123
Telling Tales Out of Schoolp. 131
Pushing the Boundaries: The Challenge of Futuristic, Fantasy, and Paranormal Romancep. 135
Everything Old Looks New Againp. 141
A Working Class Romancep. 147
Heading for a Happy Endingp. 153
The Writer's Journey: Like a Lemming over a Cliffp. 159
Paradox in Balancep. 167
The Things We've Always Knownp. 173
Taboo or Not Taboo: That Is the Questionp. 181
The Romance of Writingp. 191
The Art of Romance Novelsp. 203
"I Can Pay the Rent": Money in the Romance Novelp. 209
Why I Occasionally Think About Not Writing Romance Any More/Why I Know I'll Continue to Write Romance Until They Pry My Cold Dead Fingers from Around My Keyboardp. 221
Bibliographyp. 227
Indexp. 273
About the Editorsp. 279