In the Land of Romance, the men are all tall and tanned, the women are thin and plucky, and the sex is always mind-boggling. It’s a fine land, indeed. But we prefer the land of Wonk-o-Mance.
We are the mythical readers, the undermarketed writers, who like our protagonists less conventional, our conflicts less tidy, our endings less certain. We want escapism, but we want it with a nice, stiff shot of human frailty. Give us Scarlett and Rhett, yes, yes, but can we also have Harold and Maude? Atticus Finch, mmm-hmm, but also Boo Radley? Nick and Nora, absolutely, but also that broody, effed-up Philip Marlowe? We want the whole messy spectrum of human behavior, packaged up for consumption in romance novel form.
Here at Wonk-o-mance, we’re lovers, not fighters! We aren’t anti-convention. But sometimes the market says, “Ooh, too much. This hero you’ve written, Aspiring Romance Writer– Whoa. He’s really . . . strange. You’re going to lose readers.” And we at Wonk-o-Mance say, “You might lose them, but you’ll gain us. Bring on the strange!”
Because we believe there’s a place in romance fiction for weird-ass heroes and heroines. We want characters who are depressed, who are fat, who are diagnosably bent. We want nerds who are actually nerdy, lumberjacks who are unabashedly bearded, quiet men who are so close to mute, it’s hard to tell the difference. In fact, we want cripplingly shy middle-aged virgin heroes. Ambitious, ball-busting heroines who never apologize. Bricklayers and plumbers and short-order cooks who don’t turn out to be slumming heirs and heiresses.
Here at Wonk-o-Mance, we want to read stories about how lust and love make screwed-up people do stupid, stupid things. Because they do. Ohhh, they do. But they make us change, too. They make us better.
People are strange. Life is weird. Love is weirder. And fooked-up people deserve happy endings, too.