Saturday, 21 June 2008

Bodice ripping….

“A sexually explicit romantic novel; usually in a historical setting and always with a plot involving the seduction of the heroine.”

With hand on my heart, I confess, I write bodice rippers. Gasp! Shock! Horror! How dare I, an erotic romance writer, say that? Well firstly, I dare a lot and secondly, I believe some romance writers are taking the bodice ripping term way too personally…my opinion of course.

Although I do not write historical romance, bodice rippers are contemporary romance too. I have read lots of great e-books recently that are bodice rippers even though the authors may not like to think so because the term ‘bodice ripper’ is perceived negatively. I can’t see why. A bodice ripper to me is all about passion. It’s about wanting someone so desperately that clothes may be ripped in the overriding urge to touch and taste or long held defenses dropped because the need to be with the one you love overrides anything else the scares or

worries you. Bodice ripper = passion. And the thing is it’s not always men ripping the clothes off the ‘scantily clad’ heroine. A lot of heroines do their own ripping - and come on, isn’t it sometimes fun, silly and exciting ripping the clothes off the one you love/lust after? There’s something so wildly frantic about it that’s both hot and amusing. Actually one author emailed me to tell me she liked the term and ‘thought there was something fun about it.’ She is right. You remember fun don’t you? It’s when we don’t take things seriously and we lived life on our own terms without worrying about what others thought.

Are my books great works of literature that can compare to Shakespeare, Austen, Kipling? Well of course not. Will they save the world? No. What they are aimed at is giving someone a chance to relax for a couple of hours by dissolving into a romantic fantasy and forgetting all the other crapacious stuff they have had to deal with that day. When I get letters from people telling me they enjoyed my book, I think - great – the reader got some level of enjoyment out of it and my job is done. I don’t believe my books, and some others I have read, are meant to be taken seriously. Sure most are based on real life, and in some cases my own, but they are for entertainment – for the ‘what if’ factor – the adventure. If you want to call that bodice ripping – go ahead – be my guest.

It beats me why we as romance writers – or just people in general – worry about tags. So someone calls your book a bodice ripper and you stamp your feet in angst. Why is it their opinion important to you? Are you worried about being perceived as a fluffy, air head romance novelist? If someone can tell me why it’s a negative term I would like to hear it – really I would. I just don’t understand why romance writers get so upset at it – so either tell me in the comments or email me privately on

You know the thing to me as if you have strength of character then what people think of you, other than those you love, is irrelevant. Who is the most important person when it comes to your book? The reader. Did they enjoy it? Do you think they care if it’s called a bodice ripper? Of course not. Readers will read what suits them regardless of a ‘tag.’ The term ‘bodice ripper’ only has what meaning you choose to put to it. If you want to follow the crowd, you’ll think it derogatory. If you want to be your own person, you’ll know it’s so much more than that. People are always going to want to put labels on things – let ‘em. I always say people have to have a hobby.

So yeah, I have written bodice rippers and I will write more and I will not fall apart of someone labels them as such. Life is too short to be worry about crap like labels.

I thought this was interesting –
click here – for real life bodice ripping. And to have a laugh at some silly covers – click here.

Two things happened today – one was annoying…I had a flat tyre. I was driving along singing loudly to the radio and someone was waving frantically at me. If just smiled and waved back as you do at crazy people who are gesturing and pulling faces. As I headed down my street I heard this strange noise. I turned the radio down and heard the ka-thump ka-thump of useless rubber. So I had to get the auto club out to fix it because, even though I know how to change a tyre, I won’t. Why? Just because. Then I had to call up the nearest tyre place and see if they had a tyre to fit Ida, my car. “What sort of tyre lady?” Er, it’s round and black. “Yeah but what kind?” The usual I guess – rubber with a tread. Men – don’t they ask silly questions? Anyway, after much time and money expended, tyre fixed.

However, much more importantly something was reinforced to me today and that was you never really know what is going on in someone’s life. You only ever see the outer shell of most people don’t you? A friend told me something about her life that made me mad and upset for her. I would never have guessed this thing otherwise. So once again it made me realize that people hide lots of stuff under the façade they show the world – stuff that never sees the light of day. Sometimes it’s a bloody complex and sad world isn’t it?

Shortest day of the year today… had to frigging happen on a Saturday didn’t it? Just as well I gave myself a 15 minute early mark from work yesterday to make up for it.
Go ahead: Live with abandon. Be outrageous at any age. What are you saving your best self for?


barbara huffert said...

Poor Ida, going along with a hurt wheel. I hope that flapping rubber didn't mark her.

At least your friend told you so she isn't in hiding from the entire world. Seems like a step in the right direction. She's lucky to have you as a friend.

Regina Carlysle said...

Thanks to the new spin on bodice rippers, AJ. I think the next time someone asks me what I write, I'll just smile my biggest and say BODICE RIPPERS! LOL It would be worth it to see the look of shock.

You're right. We usually never know what's REALLY going on in someone's life and lots of people are good at hiding.

As always, great post!

Anny Cook said...

Geez, sorry for the flat tyre! That's a pain, isn't it? Perhaps I'll tell my flat tyre story sometime.

I'm with Regina. Thanks for the new take on bodice rippers. I never was all that worried about it, but it doesn't give a new perspective.

I would say that your friend has given you the gift of trust if she shared her story with you. I know that she's safe in your hands.

Molly Daniels said...

I've done that...had the radio blaring and unknowingly limping home on a flat tire...and the husband unit was less than thrilled.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the link to the covers. Those were hilarious!

As for the bodice rippers, well I don't care what people call them as long as they are buying my books.

I was blasted for letting the radio station call my books porn. But I didn't care. It was free publicity to most of the state I live in. They could have called it whatever they wanted.


Mona Risk said...

I just love the pictures and the red velvet bodice [?] What do we call it? It's so pretty.

Martin said...

I agree. Say it loud: "I rip bodices and I'm proud!" Writing a truly entertaining and engrossing novel is No Mean Feat.

Georgie Lee said...

Great post on bodice rippers. Cheers to you for reminding writers to enjoy writing!

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Here's to writing (and reading) bodice-rippers with pride. Well put.

LynTaylor said...

LOL! Some of those covers are hilarious!!!

Hmm .. not many of my heroines wear bodices these days. I wonder what the equivalent would be? Button Rippers? Need some of you witty gals to come up with something ;)

Unknown said...

I like bodice rippers. I don't mind if someone calls my books that.

I got a flat tire on the way home from Daytona Beach last month - 5 hours away from home. Annoying, but it happens. I'd much rather have car trouble than plane trouble.