Do you read outside your go-to genre?

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I started this month off intending to finish my middle-grade fantasy novel and read more books on my digital library, which was going well (I mean, the reading part) until I wasn’t as invested in it as I thought I would be.

When starting anything you’re excited about, you think you’re going to pull it off until it starts to feel like work. We’re halfway through May and I’m pretty sure I only started working on my novel yesterday.

Thankfully, spending the day before yesterday reading a book far from the fantasy genre helped me write (in this case, rewrite) better. I thought I was going to have writer’s block for the rest of the month. But reading a regency romance novel jumpstarted my writing machine, pumping more sentences that made sense through my head again. Reading always helps.

So, what’s the connection between regency romance and middle-grade fantasy?

There is none. However, the language used in a clean, regency romance novel is appropriate and clever; it teaches one to expand their vocabulary and learn how not to half-ass their plot when writing in a tight genre where there’s much more scrutiny (i.e., middle-grade). At least, that’s what will happen when the author really knows their stuff, and in my case, Isabella Thorne’s writing does it for me. I took notes.

For my fellow Africans, it may sound weird for me to love reading regency romance because the culture isn’t supposed to be appealing to me as a reader. But that’s the wrong assumption. Plus, the way marriage is approached in these books, at least the ones I’ve read so far, is very close to the way it’s dealt with in African folklore where the high-profile man who has come of age and wishes to marry hosts a gathering where he sets out to pick the flower he likes the most, the one who will stand out from among many other great choices. But sometimes the flower isn’t a “pick me” and she’s got thorns, and comes with baggage.

So the man must harvest her with great care to avoid getting hurt or damaging the flower. The man wins the woman’s heart, or the lady passes the test, and they live happily ever after. That’s how stories go, right? Put like that, it sounds a little boring; I know. I’m not much of a cultural propagandist anyway, and for literature, I don’t like to make unnecessary comparisons between genres, so let’s just say I enjoy romances where people act properly and are passionate about what they do.

Speaking of passion, I will probably never write a regency romance, but you can bet I would write a romance where subtlety and finesse are praised over sexy, like an ode to the genre.

For those who are skeptical about the goodness in those books, I recommend reading The Duke’s Daughter by Isabella Thorne. It was endearing because the protagonist wasn’t all about finding a man who would marry her, but she was fun to hangout with. I would describe her as a feminist ahead of her time and a smart woman who could run for president and people would vote for her.

But it wasn’t the first time I tried to read this book. Believe me, it was a hard one to read, mainly because of the more advanced language, so I had to force my mind to adapt. Good training. Also, this is the second time I have finished a story by the same author this year and I have become a fan of her writing style. The happily ever after really came as a rewarding moment for me (considering it is romance, and that’s not always the case), and the author ended the story with major character development which was beyond satisfactory. Finally, the epilogue was the part that stood out the most (no spoilers) and I think every reader and writer will love it too.

Here’s an opportunity for any author who would like to be a guest on a podcast with me. Follow this link if you’re interested and drop me a message.

What did you think of this post?

Let me know whether you think I should keep sending out more posts like this in the comments!

Until next time.

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Priscille B. Fatuma

Priscille is a freelance writer, fiction writer, podcaster, content creator & marketer. She loves books, movies, long naps, TV series, and dogs.