Please welcome Megan Mulry, author of If the Shoe Fits, as she talks about writing chick lit!
by Megan Mulry
Wow! I can’t believe you used the C word! I thought we weren’t supposed to say Chick Lit in polite company anymore. Hooray! Yes! I write Chick Lit. I mean, um, I think I do. Maybe.
It seemed so obvious at first…I wanted a contemporary setting with a heroine/protagonist (again, gets tricky when you are genre-holed…romance readers expect a heroine, while lit readers expect a protagonist). Anyway, what I wanted to READ was a book with the sex-on-the-page hotness of a great romance and the ambiguity and tension of literary fiction, but with lots of humor and a 100% guaranteed happily ever after. So that’s what I ended up writing. I’m a strong believer in that whole write-what-you-want-to-read chestnut, because let’s face it, for much of the time you will be the only person who is reading your book…sometimes for a very long time.
Okay, here’s an example of why I don’t really know what I write. I worked on a manuscript recently in which the heroine (regardless of genre, I always call *my* characters heroes and heroines because it makes me think of David Bowie and Joseph Campbell and the possibility that we can all be heroic). Anyway, the heroine in this new story is engaged to one man—a decent man, a perfectly fine man, but not a great man—in the opening chapter. Then she meets and falls hard for the hero in chapter two. Is it cheating? I didn’t think so. At least that wasn’t at all the theme I was trying to address. I think a lot of people these days are questioning everything about marriage and monogamy and I love all that gory ambiguity. I wanted to shake the heroine up a bit, make her sit up and choose marriage, rather than be swept into it just because the good-enough guy asked.
But when I shared the manuscript with romance beta readers they were questioning the like-ability of a heroine who would “cheat”…and I got so turned around…I was like, “Me too! I hate a cheater!” So I revised and tried to make her just date the first guy, then meet the hero, but then it just didn’t feel like the stakes were high enough. I wanted her to have to really go out on a limb for the hero, to potentially lose everything safe. Especially because he was someone who everyone else thought was a terribly unreliable lothario, a user, but whom she found to be, well, for lack of a better term, her soul mate. I think that really exists and sometimes lives are destroyed and then rebuilt when that happens. And it can be ugly and beautiful all at once. I want to be fearless about that, and I guess that’s what is sometimes called Chick Lit. Maybe. But I want it sexy, too, and I don’t usually associate lots of really steamy sex with Chick Lit.
I joke on Twitter that I write wom-fic-omance…but maybe that’s just because I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. That probably doesn’t answer your question at all, but maybe it will generate some exciting discussion. *hopeful eyes* Do readers like books that span different genres? Do they like to be a little confused and disrupted occasionally?
PS Oh, and the clothes. I love to write about clothes. And shoes and interiors. And those seem to be definite Chick Lit identifiers.
Thanks so much again for having me to Luxury Reading!