~ By Deborah Bassett
Happy New Year from Chick Lit Writers of the World! As the newly-elected president of the chapter, I am delighted to welcome you to our blog, where you will find top-notch articles on craft, interviews with published authors, editors, and agents, and original reviews of the latest chick-lit novels.
I begin 2012 with a quick look at some common questions I hear about our genre:
1. What exactly is “chick-lit”? And isn’t it dead?!
Two related question that continue to swirl around list-servs and writing conferences are how to define the genre and whether or not it is still selling.
Liz and Lisa, owners of the popular website Chick Lit is Not Dead, are adamant that chick lit involves a story with a happy ending, telling The New York Daily News last spring, “We’re two girls who believe in a happy ending. If we could say what the definition of chick lit is, it’s a book with a happy ending.”
The founders of International Chick Lit Month (the Chicklit Club, Chick Lit is Not Dead and Novelicious teams), held for the first time in May 2011 to celebrate “all things chick lit,” describe chick lit as “that amazingly diverse genre that focuses on the issues that women face today.”
“It can be light-hearted, it can be serious,” they write, “It can be heart-warming or heart-wrenching. It can make you laugh or make you cry. It is usually romantic – sometimes even raunchy. It can inspire, intrigue and educate you.”
Irish author Sheila O’Flanagan describes the genre as being primarily about relationships, not only romantic relationships, but all the relationships women have and support:
“I believe that our relationships with each other is one of the biggest issues you can possibly deal with. Everything in the world depends on how we treat other people and how we are treated in return. . . .Women are at the forefront of so many of these relationships. . . .They are the fabric of our society, holding things together.”
Responding to reports from The Bookseller that sales in chick-lit had fallen by 10%, British novelist Jojo Moyes wrote in The Telegraph last year that these figures were misleading considering that they did not take into account the sales of digital books or the fact that all fiction sales were down by 10%, not just chick-lit. “. . .[T]o say ‘chick-lit is dead’ is as inaccurate as ‘the thriller is dead’,” she observed.
2. Who writes chick lit?
“The women who write chick lit – and the women they write about – may be mothers, daughters, sisters; in love or still looking,” The International Chick Lit Month team writes.
Chick lit authors are a diverse group of people from all walks of life. Chick Lit Writers of the World is composed of both published and aspiring authors, women and men from around the world who share a passion for reading and writing chick lit. This past year, our annual “Get Your Stiletto in the Door” writing contest drew entries from writers in the U.S., Canada, Ireland, Brazil, New Zealand, and Australia. Our members write young adult, mystery, paranormal, and multi-cultural chick lit while simultaneously pursuing professional careers as attorneys, dentists, food critics, academics, entrepreneurs, and many more.
3. Why read chick-lit?
While I appreciate Perry’s sentiments, I believe that chick lit has remarkable potential to change the world, simply by teaching the reader more about herself and about others. The International Chick Lit Month team wrote last May that “[Chick lit] characters may remind you of your own friends and enemies; of your own strengths and flaws. Reading chick lit gives you a chance to walk a mile in another woman’s shoes.”
Last October, Shelia O’Flanagan wrote about what she sees as the value of chick lit: “. . .it is those stories, of joy, sorrow, love, hate, bravery, survival, despair and triumph that chick-lit tells. Sometimes in a comic way, sometimes not. But always in a way that allows the reader to become part of the character’s life, a participant rather than an observer.”
Reading chick lit may provide some much-needed relaxation at the end of a busy day (a worthy function in itself!), but it also gives readers a glimpse into the lives of women and their families who might, on the surface, seem to be very different from us but by connecting us to the hopes, fears, grief, and triumph of these characters, shows us how similar we really are in our shared pursuit of a better future for ourselves and those we love.
Make one of your new year resolutions to read more chick lit! Topping my list is Sheila O’Flanagan’s 2011 best-seller, “All For You.” What about you?
Deborah writes women’s fiction and has recently completed her first novel. Visit her online atwww.deborahiswriting.blogspot.com.