Joanna Trollope and Wit Lit

The Guardian Newspaper carries an article today written by Joanna Trollope, where she explains her love of Chick Lit – or as she calls it, Wit Lit.

Why? Joanna is one of the judges for the Melissa Nathan prize , for what she called comedy romance.

Here are a few snippets…

‘It hasn’t just been fun, it’s been a revelation.

The thing is, it’s hard to write good romantic fiction, and it’s much, much harder to write funny good romantic fiction. One of the criteria we judges were given was that if we hadn’t laughed, or been really beguiled by the end of chapter one, we should hurl the book away from us (and yes, a lot of books deserve hurling, but that’s the fault of their quality and not their genre).’

‘And comedy romance works for readers because the jokes are underpinned by recognisably real people in recognisably real situations – disappointment, frustration, loneliness, anger, sadness and all the grim old daily human carry-on. In fact, without the gravitas, the jokes wouldn’t work.’

‘It’s odd, isn’t it, how squeamish we are about love as a topic. It’s fine for a hallmarked classic – Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina – but if the heroine is a modern girl commuting in to a dull job on the Central Line from Epping, we come all over contemptuous. We use words and phrases like shallow and frothy and only fit for women on sunbeds (so RUDE to readers).

I don’t believe there’s a creature on this planet – man, woman, straight, gay, any creed or race – who isn’t longing to love and be loved in some way at some point in their lives. It’s the Great Topic we all have in common, and quite right too – get your relationships right and most of the rest of life assumes its proper proportion.’

‘It isn’t a surprise to me that readers love comedy romance. It re-boots the mind and heart after plodding round life’s treadmill day after day; it reminds all of us of that fantastic Cresta Run ride of falling in love; it gives us hope, energy and makes us laugh. Oh and it isn’t called chick lit. It’s called wit lit.’

Well said. Last year, I was one of the readers for this prize, and I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for the judges.

WIT LIT.  I rather like that. So when people ask me what I write, I can say, ‘Oh, you know, the usual mischief and filth. Wit Lit’, then stand back and watch their faces.