Monday, March 03, 2008

Land of the Kamasutra, home of the Taj Mahal

A certain time-honoured purveyor of sex and love is starting an Indian version soon. The only surprise is that it took this long to happen. With at least four wildly successful film industries that deal almost exclusively in romance, and a history that is concerned with very little else, India is the perfect market for Mills and Boon.

M&B readers in other parts of the world have indicated that they prefer exotic locales and "foreign" men, and Indian ones won't be exceptions – except that the description could well apply to the guy from the neighbouring state. A Bengali may be very exotic to a Haryanvi. A Punjabi secretary might find a Goan with a guitar dangerously seductive. A Malayali scientist could bring unfamiliar chemistry into the life of a computer programmer in Orissa, and so on.

Indianising M&B will increase its readership without in any way changing the fundamental nature of the books. Harlequin should fire its business development department for not having thought of this earlier.

M&Bs were my introduction to the romance genre at a very impressionable age because all the women in two generations of my family read them and left them lying around. (Well actually, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women and What Katy Did Next came first, but you can't speak of them in the same breath.)

I loved the old, gentle M&Bs – by certain authors – and have even started collecting them now as a sort of tribute to my grandmothers. But I stopped reading them entirely about 15 years ago. The forced steaminess got on my nerves, the macho men started to annoy as well, but mostly the writing became so very bad.

I’d rather read a finely spun Georgette Heyer, written like perfect soufflĂ© (great expertise, effort and knowledge harnessed to make it light and easy). Or "modern chick lit", which is a sort of unabashed written TV. Also, the pivotal factor of romance is the guy. I find an urbane hero with the wit for real banter a hell of a lot more attractive than the brooding desert prince who barks and flings people across his saddle bow on the slightest provocation.

Incidentally, a cousin who recently stopped over for a day wanted a book to read on the plane and I discovered there are definite sub-genres to this category. In all my large library of mush, there wasn't one book that she wanted to read. We read completely different types and each had decided views on "my type".

Anyway for all those who would like to write a bestselling M&B, I am offering a guaranteed formula absolutely free in the post below.

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