“What’s your favorite band?” How avoiding bullying made me an agnostic reader (and music listener)

“What’s your favorite band?”
“I don’t have one. I like all kinds of music.”
“What kinds of music, then?”
“All music.”
“Like what?”
“I don’t know any band names, I just sing along with whatever’s on the radio, the record player, the movie…”
“Do you know [   ] ?”
“Sure!”

And they sang.

 

Nine out of ten times I can sing along with whatever music you throw at me. I have a great ear, practically perfect pitch, and am an accomplished mimic. But band names? Artist names? Preferences? Not so much.

Because when I was growing up, admitting you liked something was the quickest way to have someone make fun of you for liking it.

A clever child, I figured out that not saying was safest. Besides, it meant that I remained open-minded about most genres of music.

When it came to books, I have also always been an equal opportunity reader. The only genre I actively avoid is horror; even then, I’ll read it if it is recommended or assigned. Mostly because everyone’s “horror” is subjective. What I don’t like is explicit violence and gore.

So, when people ask me, “Do you read Fantasy?” I say yes. Science Fiction? Yes. Speculative? Yes. Historical? Yes. Non-Fiction? Yes. Biography? Yes. Literary? Yes. Business? Yes. Thriller? Not as often, but sure.

Romance?

Up until a year or two ago I probably would’ve said “No,” and it would’ve been the only no in my arsenal. Not because I don’t like romances, or even because I poo-poohed the genre (which I don’t). Merely because my parents didn’t read it. So romance books were not available to me as a kid. I never sought them out later in life because, with so much to read, and so many great books having romance as a “B” plot anyway, why bother?

Then I had friends who WROTE romance, so I started reading their books and enjoying the genre for the first time. I’m an inexperienced romance reader, but as you can see from the image above, my friend Ruth has donated all her old romances to me and I’m going to catch up fast!

As an editor, I was recently asked to turn my attention to a paranormal romance, Mistwalker. I hesitated because I can’t say I know what a romance is “supposed” to be. How would I evaluate it and be able to provide feedback?

Luckily, romances, like every other genre, are only as good as the story they are telling. By looking carefully at the characters, the events and pacing of the plot, and the relationships, I was able to encourage the author to strengthen the book. I can’t wait to hear what my romance-reading friends think of it, so if you like the romance genre, check out Mistwalker and let me know what you think!

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