Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Historical Chick-Lit

Chick-lit is the tall, thin, fashionable cousin of romance. The books are published in trade size with stylish covers, minus the bodice ripping drawings of two apparently anonymous people caught up in an unlikely embrace (because rarely do the cover models mirror the book’s characters). They are modern novels for modern women. And these could either be women too proud to pick up a romance novel, women who simply can’t relate to the all-encompassing role of romance in the life of a romance novel protagonist, or women who can relate to a not-so-sympathetic female character.

I have to admit that I’m still new to chick-lit and just getting my feet wet. But everything I’ve read from this (still relatively new) genre has been so fresh and different that I haven’t minded a truckload of character flaws. Instead I find myself rooting for those gals to grow-up and live as happily ever after as possible.

Recently I had an epiphany. I had arguably just written and self-published a “historical chick-lit” without even knowing it. My Regency-era protagonist is a woman with attitude, zest for life, and a sarcastic sense of humor; she is fighting her rite of passage every step of the way, and she's got quite a bit of baggage (most notably an impending engagement). Meanwhile, she's trying for one last grand adventure before marriage, sparring with a sexy stranger, and unaware that her best friend has called dibs on her husband of choice. One stand-out difference? Fashion—she’ll gleefully trade in her gowns for the garb of a stable-boy.

Now I’m wondering if marketing my novel Unladylike Pursuits as Historical Chick-Lit would be possible and if so, would it be a smart move. What would those modern women think of harking back in history for a bit? And could I pull it off with a mass-market paperback with a black-background cover? Admittedly I don’t have a whimsical, colorful cover, but if a chick-lit reader were to take the time to examine it closely, she (or he!) may be pleasantly surprised. Set off to the side is a book entitled, Mirror of the Graces by A Lady of Distinction. It is an actual book published during the Regency to instruct young ladies on decorum and behavior. Smack in the middle of the page is a page entitled “Opportunities for Adventure by A Spinster of Daring”. I think that about sums it up.

Some other Historical Chick-Lit’s to try:
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig
A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur’s Court by Marianne Mancusi
The Accidental Duchess by Jessica Benson
Rules of Engagement by Kathryn Caskie

No comments: