Discussion: HEA in romance, a must-have or an old-school formula?

Discussion: HEA in romance, a must-have or an old-school formula?

Hello dearies! I have an interesting question to pose to you today. When it comes to reading romance–in general, or m/m specifically–how important is the HEA to you? As you might know, my friend Carter Quinn just released a romantic suspense novella, and he raised the question of how he should categorize his story since–without spoiling–the ending is rather uncertain. Here’s what he had to say:

You may or may not have heard that I released my latest book (and first novella), Vanished, on September 17. I say you may not have heard about it because I’ve basically done zero promotion for it aside from mentioning it on Twitter and Facebook and my website. It’s an absolute failure of marketing, something that would undoubtedly cause the more seasoned professionals to shake their heads and cross me off their list of semi-intelligent creatures.

Frankly, I wouldn’t blame them. But what I know that they don’t is that Vanished breaks the Cardinal Rule of Romance. I’ll sort of spoil it for you here. The three letters most appropriate for describing the ending are not HEA or HFN. They’re WTH.

So you see my dilemma. How do I market a book that I think has some very romantic moments but doesn’t have the required ending? To which review sites do I submit? I’ve labeled it gay fiction and suspense. I would prefer to call Vanished a romantic suspense novella, but adding that word “romantic” sends tremors of fear down my spine. I can hear the ranting and raving from here. I don’t want to deceive people. That’s just stupid.

I’ve never wanted to conform to expectations. I don’t want to be pigeon-holed. I want to be free to write the story my characters tell me. Hopefully I’ll do it well enough that you’ll follow me into the next adventure, regardless of what it might be. (read more…)

So I’m curious to hear from all of my followers out there in blogger/author/reader land. What do you think? While I occasionally pick up Crichton or King, or crossovers like Sandra Brown or Heather Graham, I gravitate toward romance, in no small part due to the frequency of the HEA. I read for pure pleasure, to take my mind of of the real world and into the fantasy where everything is exciting and fun and works out okay. I definitely can’t handle the Nicholas Sparks, John Green type of romances that just tear our your heart and don’t put it back together again. That said, if a book is good enough, it can satisfy me just by being.

If I’m completely honest, I’d rather there be some kind of hint, be it in the categorization, the blurb, the publisher’s note, whatever, that says that it’s not an HEA/HFN. However, it bothers me to even suggest that because I don’t think authors should have to. I say authors write the story that’s in their head, just be prepared that not everyone will like it. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth reading.

I will say that even a die-hard HEA junkie like me loved Vanished. It was kind of gut-wrenching and beautiful. You can check out my review here: Goodreads Review

So if you’re out there reading this, tell us what you think about the issue. Comment here or on Carter’s post, because now I’m just genuinely curious!

Let me know what you think!

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