A recent, and very thought-provoking, review at geekgirlinlove.com of the whole of the Guinevere Trilogy (read it here: http://geekgirlinlove.com/2014/09/22/book-review-the-guinevere-trilogy-by-lavinia-collins/) made the very good point that, though I myself call my novels “romance” and happily list myself as a romance writer, as she puts it:
“If you know your King Arthur lore, and most of us do, it’s not a spoiler to say that Guinevere, Arthur, and Lancelot do not end up practicing open love in Avalon while dining on cake.”
Firstly, if only the original tale did end that way! Secondly – I really do see the point. When I was pitching to publishers, I myself had terrible trouble trying to decide what exactly to pitch the book as. Arthurian-inspired literature is kind of its own category, somewhere between history and fantasy, and when focalised through a key romantic player in that narrative, I guess it’s come out as a romance.
The thing is one of the beauties of genre fiction like romance, is that the audience knows what to expect. What kind of ending. It took me a long time to figure out what romance review bloggers meant by a “HEA” (and why that meant they weren’t interested in my novels!) and I do think that there’s an important sense of satisfaction in something ending the way that we expect. That’s the way high Greek Tragedy works, and it’s the way that the modern ‘romance’ novel works.
So I’ve found myself in the position where I kind of talk around the genre, and Amazon doesn’t have room for that. It’s a kind of romance-fantasy-Arthurian-historical type novel, rather than being firmly rooted in a particular genre. But this is difficult as well – you want to let people know what to expect. People don’t like surprises, I’ve found, especially in terms of book genre.
So I’m going to keep muddling through a little more. I myself am not a big fan of the straight-out happy ending, but I think endings are hard, and they trouble us all. Anyone with any tips – genre OR ending related – feel free to chime in in the comments 🙂