As most of my readers here know I write for a living. I’ve even been published, and NOT just on Kindle. So yay, me, right? And I write in three genres, nonfiction (medical, history, random content), horror/dark fantasy, and cyberpunk. But the books on my desk right now – all gifts from my boyfriend – fall into a totally different category. Call it Quirky Fiction, or Geek Romance, or absolute tripe (my pick). These are books aimed at YA reading adults or adults with very little time or very short attention spans. They are meant for the adult who is a meme freak, a TV marathoner, a Netflix addict who also crosses over into literature to impress his or her friends…and yes, guys read these, too.
The guy version usually has a hero who is a a)ninja, b)ex-mob enforcer, c)government agent. I’m talking about The Destroyer, Mack Bolan, Doc Savage, and so forth. The covers of these venerable and long lived pulp titles either have guys in black with big swords or big knives and lots of explosions, and/or guys in black with nearly naked females being rescued from explosions.
The plots are simple.
Guy has a cause, he takes call from boss or is millionaire supporting cause and is a self starter, guy kills someone but just before dying their righteously killed victim says “She/your country/your wife/your boss/your dog is doomed!”. Hero shakes dead guy, wows vengence and takes off after she/villian/terrorist/mob boss/dog. Entanglements of a simple dramatic nature occur. One of heros friends is killed. Beautiful girl is rescued and helps/kills hero’s best friend. Hero saves day at either no cost to his soul since he is a manly man, or broods over darkness upon his soul as he is a deeper still manly man.
The female version is a bit different in that there are more variations as to one item…which I’ll get to.
The female version is either a straight up singles book and will star an intelligent, sophisticated, career woman in a challenging and intellectually interesting field, who will turn to goo and go retarded when the first guy with abs, accent, or money arrives or a mother who is also secretly an assassin/spy/demon catcher/bounty hunter who hilariously (rarely) balances the challenges of assassination with her toddlers latest diaper crisis.
The difference between these books and the male version is that ladies are more prone to have read the YA, bit lit, and other TV related crap than the guys are. I am not stereotyping here, and I cannot for the life of me explain it but in my experience as a reader, blogger, writer, literary group member, playwright, and so forth this has tended (for me) to be true.
So they expect a bit more variety. So for them the guy might be gay, crazy, a traitor – like the ladies in the male variant – but they might also be married, have incompatible kids, be dead, be undead, hunt demons, aid demons, be bodygaurds for the target, hate kids, be werewolves, hate her cooking, be vegan werewolves, be robots, think they are robots, be vampires that brood because sex is not possible, or any combination of oddities above noted.
These books have titles like Carpe Demon and ‘Scuse Me While I Kill This Guy.
They also always have blurbs on the back about how funny they are, or how heartwarming, or how insightful. This is like the rattle on a rattle snake. It warns you not to pick these things up if you are an even vaguely serious reader.
But they sell!
My god, do they sell.
So all of you pulp readers out there, share, tell me what is the appeal? I’d really like to know. Sex scenes are all well in good but if there is nothing of interest between them and you just skip to the edible panties bit then why not just buy porn?
Someone clue me in, okay?
And in the meantime, I think ‘ll go back to my Dorothy Sayers. Sure you have to be trilingual to read them but wow, you just can’t beat the intellectual appeal or the very hot bedroom scenes.