Wednesday, February 14, 2018

We Love Lists: Romance Trend Predictions

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! For the last few weeks, all the romance writers in my Twitter feed have been dreading the romance-bashing articles that were sure to appear leading up to today. I think they were pleasantly surprised when Buzzfeed published this article by Jamie Green called Who Gets A Happily Ever After In 2018? It talks about the ways in which romance novels are making a political statement. 

While it wasn’t exactly the point of the article, I was struck by a paragraph about how romance trends respond to the political climate: “In the ’80s, office-set romances were a site for playing out power struggles that many women were, for the first time, experiencing. Post-9/11 paranormal romance offered heroes who could literally save the world. And after the 2008 financial crisis came the billionaires.” And it got me thinking about what trends we might be seeing in the next year or two. Here are some predictions:

Female politicians and women running for office
For the past year we've seen the women in Congress become some of the loudest voices of resistance. And thousands of women all over the country are running for office. They are sure to inspire a few romance heroines.

Blue collar heroes (the anti-billionaire)
2018 will see the last of the Fifty Shades movies, so maybe it will also mark the end of the billionaire trend? Even the cowboys and rock stars in romance novels are so often rich ones. Since we've seen so many rich, powerful men exposed as sexual predators lately, it might be time for the "regular guy" hero to have his turn.

Characters who are community organizers, human rights attorneys
Okay so there are already some "regular guys" in police and firefighter romances, but I think there are lots of other heroic professions to explore. And there's no reason those activists, or those firefighters for that matter, have to be men.

Natural and environmental disasters 
With all of the hurricanes, earthquakes and forest fires we saw in 2017, I can't imagine natural disasters not working their way into some stories.

Hackers and cybercrime cops
I loved Megan Erickson's Zero Hour that released last month. It's the first in a series about hacker heroes. Since data breaches and propaganda campaigns have been in the news so much in the last year, I expect we'll see the subject even more in the future.

SciFi and Fantasy romance
We've just established that the real world is full of natural disasters, billionaire predators and cybercriminals so it makes sense that more people would want to escape to a completely fictional place. And the success of series like Amanda Bouchet's Kingmaker Chronicles is sure to encourage more SFF romance. (A few hours after I wrote this paragraph I saw this article by Kayleigh Donaldson on SyFyWire, so I'm not the only one who thinks the genre is one to watch.)

More diversity 
We're already seeing more diverse romance than we did a few years ago. The legalization of gay marriage in 2015 led to more LGBTQ romances, for example. But I expect the percentage will continue to grow. And all the media attention on immigrants lately will probably inspire more people to write about them, as well as other POCs. I also think there's been a focus on POC and LGBTQ Own Voices works in YA, so adult romance will eventually catch up.

What do you think the next romance trends will be?

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