I guess I'm going to have to get used to being called a chic lit author. It's a shame because if you say it quickly it sounds like shit-lit.
If you're a woman and there's comedy or romance in your books, and no one gets murdered, then you'll probably be labelled a chic lit writer. 'Even if you write about serious themes,' Rosie Fiore said, at the Finchley Literary Festival last weekend. Fiore has rules to avoid the chic lit stereotypes. She'll put her main characters in credible and difficult situations, she won't give them insecurities about her body 'because women get enough of that in the media' and a man won't be the solution to all her problems, she'll need to overcome them herself. But Fiore will still be called a chit lit author because her books are commercial, and she's a woman.
Lucy-Anne Holmes wrote an interesting article in the Guardian, Chic Lit: Hate the Term. Love the Genre. She suggested that chic lit should move with the times. 'What would embracing this new wave of feminism look like in fiction?' she muses, and suggests 'we should lose the cupcakes covers.'
Only last week someone asked me, 'what do you write?'
Well, I write lots of different things. In my short stories I've written about political protests, loneliness, madness and murder. But I knew she was talking about my novels.
'Woman's commercial fiction,' I said.
'Oh...' she said, 'you mean chic lit.'
She sounded so condescending I felt an urge to justify myself. I wanted to tell her that I didn't write about shopping, or diets, or endless lunch breaks where the main character manages to get her hair cut, buy shoes and get back to work on time. Because that's the stereotype, that's what I think of when I hear the term chic lit.
|Rosie Fiore, Finchley Literary Festival|
'I know a lot of chic lit authors,' Fiore said, at the festival. 'They are strong, independent and feminists.' I glanced around the room, hoping someone else might join me in a standing ovation. It was what I needed to hear.
The chic lit term can sound so demeaning and yet there are plenty of excellent books in this genre written by talented authors who have stories worth telling. I'm certainly going to strive to be one of them.
My job is to write the best books I can whatever the label I'm given. Yes, there'll be romance in them and comedy, and it's unlikely anyone will be murdered, but I hope people don't overlook them because of the chic lit tag.