Yes, I’m having a grouchy day.

I’ve already vented my spleen over at History Hoydens today about The Great Scone Infiltration, which, as may or may not be obvious, is about food anachronisms in Romancelandia, in particular the humble scone.

It’s difficult to present oneself publicly as a grouchy romance writer. I’m supposed to be a purveyor of sweetness and light, aren’t I? Never mind that the economy is collapsing, and we have the possibility of a grouchy old man and his accompanying albatross with glasses (not my definition, but the brilliant Graham Norton’s) taking us down the path to … well, I hate to think where. I spring out of bed these days with a song on my lips, but unfortunately it’s a song that goes along the lines of things aren’t going at all well…

So is it true that in these troubling times we need Romance? Will people flock to buy books–or borrow them from the libraries (when they can get there and if the books are there–ever noticed how library budgets suffer at the drop of a dollar hat?)? I wonder if books will become the equivalent of movies during the 1930s–rather than going out for an evening for a relatively small amount of money (and let the theater’s heating and the press of bodies warm you), we’ll stay at home and read.

The movies of the Golden Age of Hollywood offered fantasy, escapism, and a glimpse into the lives of the rich, famous, and fashionable. Now we see altogether too much of the lives of the rich, famous, and fashionable, but we still crave fantasy and glamor.

I wonder if romance will fill that void.

The reason it might not is that reading is a solitary pursuit. I think in particular that romance is isolating in that it answers your fantasies–whether your particular fantasy is tea in a Regency drawing room or sex with three werewolves (at once)–and a shared fantasy becomes something else. It requires an act of trust to share the need for fantasy, or the fantasies themselves, with others, and I think that’s why the internet provides so many discussion boards and other safe environments for readers who want to talk about romance. But I’m wondering whether we need human contact–and that’s what going to the movies represented during the Depression. The experience would continue long after leaving the movie theater, providing common ground for discussion about the movie and its stars.

So, a couple of questions for you.

Do you think reading romance will get us through hard times?

Do you find online friends and community as satisfying as “real-life” friends?