Thursday, September 27, 2007

Guest Bitch: December Quinn says, "If it's too crap, you're too old."

When I was thirteen I went on a class trip to Washington D.C. We spent a lot of time on that trip being bussed around, from one tourist site to another, staring out the windows or listening to our folksy bus driver’s endless stream of chatter.

All of us except one girl, anyway, whose head was buried in a book every spare minute. She even cut out on some activities early to go back to the bus and read (which I sympathized with, but I liked the giant pandas too.) Nothing interested Vanessa** as much as her book.

The cover intrigued me. It was black; this was a grown-up book. Across the center stretched a raised diamond necklace with a huge emerald in the center. And across the bottom blazed one word in lurid red print: Lucky.

We struck up a conversation, like you do, and I eventually got a chance to hold the book in my own two hands (part of the reason for her mad reading spree was she was almost finished.)

Lucky by Jackie Collins changed my life.

I’d read grown-up books before, of course. I’d read some Stephen King. I’d read Gone With the Wind. I’d already discovered Barbara Michaels, thanks to my Mom. But I’d never read anything like this, full of sex and bad words and drugs and money and people who flew around the world on a whim. I devoured Lucky, then read Chances, the first book in the series, then went on to read basically everything Jackie had ever written.

It’s not fashionable to like poor Jackie. And to be fair, Jackie isn’t a great writer.

Her books.

Are filled.

With creative fragments.

Like these.

Her characters are fairly wooden and, had the books dealt a little more with, say, vampires and a little less with mobsters and heiresses, almost every one of them—especially Lucky Santangelo—would be derided as Mary Sues (I especially like the way Jackie always inserts herself and her late husband’s London nightclub into every book. From Lucky: “Tramp was run by an affable Englishman... Instinctively, [Lennie] knew Tramp was his kind of hang-out... [The Englishman] introduced them to his wife Jan, a striking ex-model...”) They’re obsessed with sex. They jump from conclusion to conclusion like Russian acrobats on speed. (I’m totally going to steal that line from myself at some point.) They’re whiny and selfish.

But they’re addictive as hell. And they’re fun.

Isn’t that the point of reading?

Someone, somewhere along the line—probably the same person who decided adults weren’t allowed to Trick or Treat anymore—insisted that we all look at every book as literature, and that it must broaden our minds, and that we should all look down on people who read Jackie’s book as idiots who don’t know what’s good for them. They’re the same people who insist romance novels are junk without having read them, that fantasy is easy to write because it’s “just making stuff up”, that Die Hard isn’t one of the greatest films ever made... I could go on and on.

Those people are about as much fun as blisters. And when life stops being fun, you might as well put on a pair of Depends and sit around all day dreaming of mean codicils to put in your will. (Okay, that actually is kind of fun. The will part, not the incontinence. But you get my point.)

Who cares if Jackie’s books are the mental equivalent of Kool-Aid? So what? Does everything we do always have to be sensible and enlightening, for the greater good of mankind and the planet? What’s wrong with having fun when you read?***

I don’t put fake covers on my books. On any of them. I let everyone see what I’m reading.

Say it loud. I read crap and I’m proud.

*Except Danielle Steel. Sorry, but she is still crap. And Nicholas Sparks.
**I call her Vanessa here, because that was her name.
***I should point out that my own books are emphatically not crap. Fun, hopefully, but not crap.


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19 comment(s):

Blogger Jordis Juice said...

Good one, December. I have never read a Jackie Collins book but I did read Danielle Steele. Oh, those were the days.

I don't cover my books either, though I can understand why some people do it. Let's be honest now, some of those Harlequin covers are embarrassing.

9/27/2007 12:34:00 PM  

Anonymous 2nd Amdt said...

I admit that I read 'trashy romance'; if I phrase it like that I don't have to deal with stupid questions about my preferences.

Covers didn't use to bother me, but now I am an elected official in my local community so I am careful about the cover of what I read in public - I can just see what my critics would do if they found out some of the romantica stuff I read - Lora Leigh, Maya Banks, etc.

9/27/2007 04:31:00 PM  

Blogger Terri said...

OMG I LOVED those books of course the mini series with Nicolette Sheridan SUCKED.

9/27/2007 04:46:00 PM  

Blogger Midas said...

I like Nicholas Sparks! I used to read Danielle Steel...her Zoya, Kaleidoscope, The Promise and Fine Things are actually really nice books.

It's her recent books which are I have found better authors who write less sadlifeofheroine for a change.

I used to cover my books because we would be in synagogue and Harlequin Temptation just don't make for a fine reading during Torah time.

9/27/2007 06:02:00 PM  

Blogger December/Stacia said...

Ah, Jordis, but the covers are only embarrassing if you give a shit what other people think. I don't. Which is probably why my job entails staying home by myself. :-)

Well, yes, 2nd, I can definitely see where you would need to hide some things--trashy romances, emotional weaknesses, marijuana know, that kind of thing. :-)

God, Terri, yes it did! Who the heck casted that thing? Nicolette Sheridan, indeed. I couldn't watch the whole thing, I was so turned off, and it was sad because when I was young I loved Lucky, I thought she was so cool.

You know, Midas, since writing this I thought maybe I was a little hard on Danielle and Nicholas. They do what they do, and that's fine. I'm just not a fan of really emotional, "feeling" books--as you so aptly put it "sadlifeofheroine". I read a few of hers, but the one I remember most was, I think, "Ghost", and it bugged me because there was a big old honking continuity error in it that I don't remember now.

So you know what? Danielle and Nck can jump on my "I'm trash, love me" bandwagon too, why not!

9/27/2007 06:19:00 PM  

Blogger Ladybug said...

I agree with you December but sometimes the stare of people who pass you by while reading books with such titillating covers make me want to throw it at them. I didn't steal it you know??

9/27/2007 06:25:00 PM  

Anonymous Ollenska said...

I like Nicolas Sparks too! Well, some of his books like The Notebook. Now that's a good book with a good movie.


9/27/2007 06:38:00 PM  

Blogger Rachel said...

The covers don't bother me anymore. But looking back when romance covers were filled with Fabio and his naked torso, I used to cover them with paper. It's not embarrassment for reading romance but embarrassment for the lewd cover. You have to admit, some of them look very stupid.

9/27/2007 09:56:00 PM  

Blogger December/Stacia said...

Lol, Ladybug, I think you should tell them you did! Next time someone's staring, glance up at them and say "Stole it." Then go back to reading.
I also discovered that a quick, nasty "What the fuck are you looking at?" works wonders to get people to mind their own business.

Haven't seen or read that one, Olly, but who knows. Maybe I'm just terribly close-minded and should expand myself. Maybe I'll give it a go.

I freely admit it, Rachel, I guess I just dig the stupid covers. I love the old "clinch" covers. They make the books seem so fun.
But hey, book covers are a good thing, you know? If it gets more people reading for pleasure it's good.

I just wish we didn't have to worry. It's a romance novel, FFS, not Mein Kampf. Why should we be embarrassed for reading fun stuff? We're not embarrassed to go see comedies at the movies or to snack on chips or candy bars, or to laugh with out friends over dinner in a restaurant, so why are we embarrassed to read books with lurid covers?

9/28/2007 05:27:00 AM  

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...

I've never read Jacki C. but your descriptions of the book sound a lot like the kind of thing Jackeline S. writes and I don't care what anyone says Valley of the Dolls is one of my fave books ever. I think its a pretty good book.

Once is not enough, the other JS I read sounds like this book you're talking about LOL They're all filthy rich and fly across the world as easy as picking your nose. They're all beautiful and cheat on each other with people they know. Wonder if this is really the way high society in NY really acted (Acts?).

9/28/2007 06:36:00 AM  

Blogger December/Stacia said...

I love Valley of the Dolls! It may not be great prose, but it's good bad prose. And a good, twisty story. Even if most of the character's names are like Cabbage Patch Dolls (Lyon Burke? C'mon.)

Yep. Jackie C is Jackie S, but with more explicit sex and much more extensive use of the word fuck. Try reading Chances first, and see what you think.

And I believe it is. I think my adoration of JC is one of the reasons why I never got into clebrity worship, because they all seem so unpleasant and childish. But good to read about.

9/28/2007 11:11:00 AM  

Anonymous Di said...

I loved JC. Remember getting it from a friend and hidding it from my mother.

December, what types of romance novels do you write? You seem fun so I'll check out some of your books just want to make sure first because I'm not really into m/m stuff... :)

9/28/2007 02:58:00 PM  

Blogger December/Stacia said...

Thanks, Di! Hee, my Mom didn't mind, I was lucky.

I don't write m/m. My July EC novel, Blood Will Tell, is a vampire romance. I think it's a lot of fun. :-) No "fated mates" in sight. There is a very brief scene of f/f in that book, between minor characters and used as backdrop to a conversation.

My October release, Eighth Wand (Oct 17) has no m/m or f/f, but maybe isn't as much fun as BWT.

Anna J Evans and I wrote two menage books, one will be out in November and the other in January. The first (As the Lady Wishes) has one or two brief m/m moments as part of the menage scenes, but the second, Demon's Triad, has...well, pretty much everything you can think of. We're anticipating an X rating from EC on it, as it contains m/m, brief f/f, sexual violence and the rape of a man. So not for the faint of heart, that one.

I also have a medieval romance out in February from Cerridwen Press called Black Dragon, which I'm very excited about. It's actually a re-release with some new material, but the reviewers certainly enjoyed it and found it fun the first time.

In April Juno Books will be releasing my urban fantasy Personal Demons as a mass market paperback in stores nationwide. It's already available for preorder on Amazon (under my other pen name, Stacia Kane). I think it's a LOT of fun, that one, and there's no same-sex sexual interaction at all. There is some sex, of course, but only hot sex between two opposite-sex people. I do think it's funny and exciting and everything, so check it out. :-)

9/28/2007 07:14:00 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's been a busy month for me. Sorry I haven't been around much.

December/Stacia, I loved JC as a teenager. My friends and I used to "borrow" them from our mothers and pass them around our group to read in secret. I loved the way the word fuck was used for everything; very creative LMAO

Your urban fantasy book sounds interesting. I'll check it out in amazon.

Great post.

Lola Lovegood (who has forgotten her Blogger PW)

9/29/2007 06:00:00 AM  

Anonymous Liz said...

I like threesomes, but not sexual violence or rape. Maybe your urban fantasy will be better for me or the vampire romance. I'll check them out.

Thanks for the heads up bitches.

Nice post December (Stacia?). :)

9/29/2007 07:13:00 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read a Danielle Steel once. Once.

I've never read Jackie Collins because I thought her stuff was similar. Now that I know there's sex and dirty words I just might have to give her a shot.

And I love reading trashy books (that's what I call the ones I write, so I feel fine calling the ones I read that too) in public. There's nothing like sitting on a bench at the playground with a half naked man in your hand.

9/29/2007 10:52:00 AM  

Anonymous Anne said...

I always wanted to read JC but at her height of popularity I was still too young and my parents were very strict with what I read. Might be time to catch on those now.

9/29/2007 03:46:00 PM  

Anonymous Lapikis said...

I never did like Jackie Collins, but not because I thought the books were trashy I just couldn't understand the worlds she portrayed. I don't even remember the titles of the books I did read (2).

Who was better, JC or JS?

9/29/2007 04:24:00 PM  

Blogger December/Stacia said...

Thanks Lola! Yep, JC was nothing if not creative. I loved the way everyone was a slave to their basest urges, and the sole measure of strength in women was their ability to have a lot of sex and talk dirty, lol. But they sure were a blast to read!

Well, Liz, As the Lady Wishes, (November 16th) is a menage with some violence--the villain is an abusive ex-husband--but no rape occurs and it's actually a fairly sweet threesome romance (although of course very sexy-filled and hot, lol), so you might enjoy that one. But absolutely check out the UF, I'm so proud of it and excited for it to come out!
And I think the vapire one is just fun. The characters are very sarcastic, I giggled a lot writing it. :-) Thanks!

Oh, no, Seeley, JC is nothing like Danielle Steel! You must try one and let me know what you think!
And I agree. Let them see what I'm reading. Maybe it will change a few minds.

Give Chances a try, Anne (the prequel to Lucky! And come by my blog and let me know what you think!

JC is rather hit or miss, lapikis. I loved the Santangelo books but wasn't crazy about any of the Hollywood ones.
Who was better? JS is more small-town-girl-eaten-by-the-big-city, JC is more unpleasant-people-screwing-and-being-outrageous. So it really depends on what you prefer, I guess. :-)

9/29/2007 07:38:00 PM