My name is Maxine Morrey and I write chicklit. There are those that may feel this should be stated whilst sat around in a circle with others who have the same words to utter, and upon each turn a welcome will be issued together with a polite round of applause for having the bravery to stand up and make such a declaration.
But guess what? I’m not ashamed about it at all. In fact, I’m rather proud.
There have always been people who have looked down on the genre that has come to be called chicklit, but a few years ago, the attack really seemed to take hold and poor old chicklit came in for a real bashing from those who, for some reason, felt that if you read – or heaven forbid – wrote such novels, then you were somehow a little below those who chose to read or create in other genres.
This literary snobbery was something that I never did – and still don’t – understand. Scathing pieces were written in the media, people turned their nose up at you if you happened to mention that you enjoyed an author whom they considered to fall into this most unsavoury category. Many seem to harbour the idea that if something was easy to read, then it was obviously easy to write and therefore undeserving of their respect.
And yet, when questioned, it seemed that many of these critics had never actually read anything in the area they so readily, and vociferously, put down. Surely that’s like swearing up and down that you can’t bear a certain food without having ever tasted it! Even then, if you don’t enjoy it, fair enough. But that doesn’t mean it’s right to declare that said food is so awful that it should be banned from dinner plates the world over!
I think some of the problem is that it is an easy genre to take a swipe at, and that some feel the name gives them an opening. Anything with the word ‘chick’ in the title can often be at risk of being referred to in a slightly derogatory tone. Just think of the term ‘chick flick’. Despite the fact that many such films are incredibly well written, with a definitive plot line, interesting characters, and are chock full of emotion, they are still looked upon as something less than one that may have little character development, a pretty thin storyline but a lot of explosions.
Personally, I enjoy both types of films immensely and don’t feel the need to declare one type to be better than the other. They are different and that’s good. Different is what makes the world interesting, whether that’s books, films, people or interests. Just because one person enjoys one thing and another enjoys something else doesn’t mean that either of those interests have any less value. This is the exact point that those who slated the genre of chicklit seemed to completely miss. Ok, it might not be what you want to read, but we are all different. And that’s ok.
When people find out that I’m a writer, and ask what it is that I write, I generally say ‘romantic comedies’. However, that’s not because I’m ashamed of the title of ‘chicklit’, it’s because it’s a more accurate way of defining the books I’m currently writing.
I would – and have – also happily referred to them as ‘chicklit’ and ‘women’s fiction’. They are all of the above. I just tend to refer to my current ones as ‘romcom’ because it narrows the field for the person asking as chicklit can cover a wider range. It’s a quick, easy and accurate answer. But if someone came back at me and questioned as to whether that was then ‘chicklit’ (probably with the accompanying bunny ears gesture), my answer would be ‘Absolutely.’
Here’s the thing about this genre that its critics don’t seem to get. We love it. We love reading it and we love writing it. It’s escapism, it’s emotional, it’s funny, it’s heartbreaking and – for the most part – we know exactly what we’re going to get, which is what we want. There’s generally a hero and a heroine and although they’re going to have a whole bunch of obstacles to navigate and trip over, at the end, they’re going to get together and give us our Happy Ever After – known in the trade as HEA.
There’s also the possibility of the HFN (Happy For Now) and that’s fine too. I tend to subscribe to the first but so long as everyone’s happy at the end, I’m happy too. For me, that’s the whole point of the book – and the genre. I write such novels, and read such novels to escape. The world can be a very dark place and although – as we discussed earlier – everyone is different, for me, I want to get away from that darkness when I read.
Don’t get me wrong, I love twisty thrillers and am a huge fan of the Bond films – I don’t exclusively live in the world of chicklit. Again, it’s about variety. But I do love the joyful escape that they offer. And sometimes what you really need is escape. Perhaps nobel prize winning novels and high literature may offer this to some – who knows? But for me, it’s the world of chicklit.
Chicklit makes me smile. It helps me forget for a while. And even when our hero and heroine are struggling, and all looks bleak, deep down we know they’ll get through it and that happiness waits for them in the end. Chicklit makes us happy and it gives us hope. And to me, that’s a very good thing indeed.
Maxine has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember and wrote her first (very short) book for school when she was ten. Coming in first, she won a handful of book tokens – perfect for a bookworm!
As years went by, she continued to write, but ‘normal’ work often got in the way. She has written articles on a variety of subjects, aswell as a book on Brighton for a Local History publisher. However, novels are what she loves writing the most. After self publishing her first novel when a contract fell through, thanks to the recession, she continued to look for opportunities.
In August 2015, she won Harper Collins/Carina UK’s ‘Write Christmas’ competition with her romantic comedy, ‘Winter’s Fairytale’.
Maxine lives on the south coast of England, and when not wrangling with words, can be found tackling her To Be Read pile, sewing, listening to podcasts, and walking.
Buy her latest novel HERE