Alina Adams Visits and Talks About Neverending Stories
I like neverending stories.
(Well, not at cocktail parties, or award banquets, or when my kids are telling me about what happened at school today by replacing every period with an “and then…”)
But, when it comes to characters I love, I just want the story to go on forever. (Seriously, did anybody honestly think that Scarlett and Rhett were done at “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn?” That there wasn’t still a lot to explore with Anna Karenina’s kids post-her unfortunate off-the tracks moment? That Scout Finch was going to be really something come Alabama’s debutante ball season a few years down the road?)
That’s why I love multi-generational family sagas: Sidney Sheldon’s “Master of the Game,” Belva Plain’s “Evergreen,” Judith Kraantz’ “Mistral’s Daughter.” (Quick, off that list, everybody guess what decade I came of age in.)
I love family sagas because while romance novels have to be primarily about romance, mysteries have to be primarily about mysteries, adventure tales must have the adventure front and center, and women’s fiction can dabble in everything from parents to siblings to friends to obscure historical details, a family saga can feature all of that in one place.
The problem is – unless I am seriously missing an entire section in my local Barnes & Noble – they really aren’t publishing books quite like that anymore.
To quote Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Boulevard,” everything just got… “smaller.”
Back in the mid-1990s when, after publishing two Regency romances (“The Fictitious Marquis” and “Thieves at Heart”) and two contemporary romances, (“Annie’s Wild Ride” and “When a Man Loves a Woman”), I tried to pitch my publisher a sprawling family saga like the type I’d grown up reading (there, another clue about my age), I was told that, “People don’t like that kind of thing anymore.”
Are you telling me that, when the clock struck midnight on January 1, 1990, literally hundreds of thousands of people who’d made Sheldon and Krantz and Plain and Collins and Steele best-sellers just… got over it?
Where did they go?
I was informed that readers like “intimate” books now.
That’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with intimate stories. What I want to know is: Who decides these things?
Is there some kind of publishing cabal that takes a vote and then sends up smoke signals, like when the Vatican elects a new pope? Is it a category in the long-form census that I’ve yet to get?
Who gets to choose what’s in and what’s out?
And have any of you ever found yourself standing in a bookstore (or skimming, mystified, on your Kindle), wondering, “Hey, where did my favorite genre go?”
ALINA ADAMS is the New York Times best-selling author of Oakdale Confidential and The Man from Oakdale, and the co-author of Jonathan's Story. Her Figure Skating Mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime is currently undergoing a 21st Century multimedia treatment, with Skate Crime being turned into a Kindle e-book where professional skating videos are inserted right into the text as part of the story. She can be reached via her website, http://www.AlinaAdams.com