Last week I despaired when yet another article insulting the Romance industry appeared in New York Magazine. This week I am delighted to offer two antidotes, one that is not 100 percent perfect, but another that comes very very close.
The Wall Street Journal, of all publications, published an article about Nora Roberts, commemorating her 200th book, The Witness, released April 17. Of course, they couldn’t help giving it a less-than-serious title, Keeping The ‘Noraholics’ Happy. And describing Nora as having “a gravelly smoker’s voice,” which was what the initial male commenters latched onto.
But, all in all, it does give credit to Nora’s creative genius, her work ethic, and the incredible achievement of having written 200 books (up to 204 now, actually).
The near perfect article is from The Washington Post. This article lets the essence of Nora shine through and it speaks respectfully of her work and her fans. What is even better, Nora explains the appeal of romance without apology to what she terms “the literati.” I don’t think I’ve ever read an article in the mainstream press that has been content to write about romance without making some kind of disparaging comment.
The comments to this article are mostly very positive and I’m touched by readers’ explanations of their love of Nora’s books.
I have the good fortune to be acquainted with Nora through Washington Romance Writers and from being a friend of one of her good friends. I admire her enormously. She is a strong, intelligent woman to whom family is of primary importance in her life. In addition, she has a solid sense of community and has, I dare say, been a boon to Boonsboro! In the 2010 Giving Back Fund list, Nora was second only to Oprah Winfrey for celebrity charitable donations; in the 2011 list, she’s number 5.
Nora is also very unpretentious about her work. She doesn’t talk about “muses” and doesn’t believe in writer’s block. Like any other job, she just shows up and writes. She’s a natural storyteller who has honed her craft and who listens confidently to her creative mind.
She is also genuinely appreciative of her fans. I’ve been lucky enough to participate in book signings at Nora’s husband’s bookstore, Turn the Page Bookstore in Boonsboro, like the one described in the Washington Post article. This photo is from one of those signing (Left to Right Pam Palmer in the back, me, Nora’s husband Bruce, Nora, Michelle Willingham in 2007). Fans arrive in buses and the lines are so long people are given tickets to get in. The signings last for hours and Nora never hurries anyone along. She greets fans as faithful friends (some of them are!), willingly smiles for endless photographs, and signs totebags, Tshirts and whatever fans wish her to sign. This part of the reason fans love her and are loyal.
But the main reason are the books. Nora never disappoints and always delivers a good story with great characters and a happy ending. It’s a plus that she is a great person as well.
So, congratulations to Nora for her wonderful achievement of 200 published books with more to come!
What Nora book is your favorite? Which one was your first?