Is Chick Lit Dead?

A snapshot of my chick lit bookshelf - many more on my Kobo

A snapshot of my chick lit bookshelf – many more on my Kobo

Hi, my name is Victoria and I write chick lit.

(This is where you say “Hi Victoria”…)

Being a fairly new writer, you come across many challenges. Just admitting to your friends and family that you’re putting a significant amount of energy into writing is daunting. You’re committed at that point, or it feels that way, anyways. Then come the questions, “what are you writing?” or, “what genre is it?”

I struggle with this one. I work in a corporate world, so the first time that I admitted to belong to the Alberta Romance Writers’ Association (an all-out amazing group, in case you were wondering), I was holding my breath waiting for my colleague’s response. It was exactly as I expected: a grin and a small amount of laughter.

Romance. Chick lit. The names of the categories, at least in my experience, seem to be polarizing. In the year eight months that I’ve publicly shared with people what I’m writing, I’ve finally evolved my answer.

I write humorous, contemporary romance.

Once more with pride.

I write humorous, contemporary romance.

Okay, that wasn’t so hard. That said, when I went to the Surrey International Writers’ Conference this past year, it was again a mixed bag. At the conference I befriended a woman who is writing a literary, new adult piece. Is there a love story in it? Yes. Is it around a similar age range? Yes. But while my novel has a lot of humor, hers focuses more on a darker story. Neither is better or worse, but when she categorized it as “chick lit” with a tilt of the head and a high-pitched inflection of the voice, I could tell there was a tiny bit of judgment there.

Do I care for my sake? Not at all. I love what I write, I have fun with it, and those that have read it have given me phenomenal feedback. And it makes me happy. But I can’t help feeling defensive for writers across my genre.

Then people ask me “isn’t chick lit dead?” Again, not at all. I recently watched a great interview on Huff Post Live with author Kim Gruenenfelder and Executive Editor at St. Martin’s Press, Jennifer Weis. They, like me, feel it is alive and kicking, albeit with some nice footwear. Weis explained that while “the phrase is out of date, … the genre is thriving.”

This is a genre where sales are incredible. I don’t know about you, but after a stressful day at work, I want to go home and read something light-hearted.  I want to laugh, I want to smile, I want there to be clever lines and surprise endings. These skills are not lacking in contemporary romance or chick lit – whatever you want to call it. In fact, it takes great skill to make someone laugh out loud when reading a novel.

At the end of the day, like I said, I’m proud of what I write. But what about you other authors out there? Sci-fi? Fantasy? Travel writers? You name the genre, I’m sure you feel some sort of stigma or judgment about it. Or do you? Would love to hear your thoughts.

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3 Responses to Is Chick Lit Dead?

  1. dianacranstoun January 20, 2014 at 4:12 am #

    “… alive and kicking, albeit with nice footwear.” LOVE it!!!!

  2. rubytuesday9 January 20, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

    Agreed. I love me some ‘chick lit’. Have you read Marisa de los Santos yet? You should check her out. There is a fair amount sexism in the anti-chick lit vibe. We automatically think of ‘masculine’ genres like thrillers as inherently more literary or whatever than romance. So silly.

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