Monday, 28 May 2012

"Trash" is always someone's treasure... and today we're talking "trashy" books...

I was thinking this weekend, which wasn't an easy task, let me tell you, considering the heat the United Kingdom has been blessed with recently.  Anyway, yes, I was thinking this weekend.  About the kind of books I write, and the kind of author I am.  I suppose that old matter of genre keeps rearing it's ugly and irritating head every now and again, but it was really something I saw on Facebook that got me thinking - something somebody posted regarding E.L James' writing (the author who wrote 'Fifty Shades of Grey').  What they were basically saying was that her writing was crap - that's what the post inferred.  And it just got me thinking.  I mean, when all is said and done the woman has written a worldwide bestseller so, quite frankly, who's having the last laugh?  And, in all honesty, they could call my writing whatever they liked as long as people were buying my books and enjoying them - as people are with 'Fifty Shades of Grey'.  I've yet to read it myself but I certainly will be doing.  Soon.  So, what's this all got to do with me, then?

Well, the thing is, some people probably put the books of E.L. James in the same category as those of Jackie Collins, Jilly Cooper, etc. - "trash" novels, isn't that what they call them?  Books that do nothing but give people an escape from real life and thrust them into somebody else's.  Books that epitomise fantasy and escape - a break from reality.  And, in my opinion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  At all.  Because, to be quite frank, those are the kind of books I love writing too.  The kind of books I love reading.

You see, the one thing I hate more than anything is snobbery - of any kind.  For example, on Saturday night I spent a fabulous three hours or so in front of the Eurovision Song Contest and had a bloody good night, a bit of a laugh (thanks to Graham Norton's commentary!), and an evening of just forgetting everything else and immersing myself in the ridiculousness of the whole event.  Felt a bit sorry for old Engelbert though.  He wasn't the best on the night but he didn't deserve second bottom!  However, well done Sweden - cracking song there, a deserved winner!  Anyway, my point here is that some people turn their noses up and look down on people like me, people who actually admit to enjoying something like the Eurovision.  It's not, I dunno, "trendy", or whatever word they use these days.  But I couldn't care what anyone else thinks, I enjoy it.

But book snobbery especially is something I really detest.  Personally, before the days of the Kindle I couldn't have given two hoots if people saw me reading a Jackie Collins on the train home from work.  So what?  I'm never going to be one of these people who's afraid to show the world her reading tastes by hiding 'Hollywood Wives' behind a copy of the latest Booker Prize winner.  Stuff that!  Does it make me less of a person because I read that kind of thing?  Of course it doesn't.  And anyway, anyone who judges someone on the basis of what books they read really needs to take a long hard look at themselves in my opinion.
And another thing - when it comes to choosing a book to read I take absolutely no notice of what critics of reviewers say.  I'll read the blurb of a book, maybe check out a sample, and if I like what I read I'll buy it, regardless of whether it has one star or five from those that have already read it.  And, if I'm looking for something to really entertain me, then I'll be hunting out the latest "trashy" novel, looking forward to a new Jackie Collins to lose myself in.  That's me, that's who I am, that's who I'll always be.  And I know that there are people out there who love all that too, otherwise those authors wouldn't be bestsellers, would they?  So, hello my target audience!  I've found you at last!

And I will stand here and admit to the world (well, to those few that may read this post, but you know what I mean) that I also write "trashy" novels.  My first two, 'No Matter What'  and 'See You At The Show', especially fall into that bracket. ('Too Much Trouble in Paradise' and 'Bon Voyage' are more on the humourous, lighter side of the romance genre.) But my first two books, they're absolute fantasy, total escapism, nothing "intelligent" in there whatsoever; no hidden meaning, no point to make.  Just stories to get lost in.  A little break from the real world.  Books with larger than life characters and situations that won't and don't always mirror reality, but they're not meant to.  That's not what "trashy" novels do, is it?  They don't have any real meaning, they're not meant to send out any messages.  They're probably not going to make anyone sit up and think about their life any differently, but that's not the kind of writer I am.  I set out to entertain, hopefully!  I write books for the beach - books people may consider a "guilty pleasure".  That's it, that's me.  In a nutshell.

So, am I ashamed to call myself a "trashy" novelist?  Absolutely not!  And anyone who thinks I'm selling out or don't deserve to be called a real writer, well, they can think what they like.  I care not a jot.  I love reading that kind of thing (as well as a barrage of chick lit, a lot of horror, in fact, anything with what I consider to be a good story, I'll read it) and I love writing it even more.  I've struggled quite a bit over this past year - my first year as an indie author - with the worry of acceptance, of whether people will take me seriously because of the kind of books I write and that has held me back, I can't lie about that.  I've maybe even written books in genres I'm not entirely happy with because I've wondered if that's what people want more than what I actually feel comfortable with.  But, do you know what?  Sod it!  I'm a "trashy" kind of girl and that's the way it's always going to be.  I adore writing the kind of love stories and romances that err more on the side of the sexy and edgy; I love creating those larger-than-life characters; those hot, handsome men and those insanely beautiful women.  That's when I really lose myself in the writing.  When I'm writing those kind of books, that's when I wake up in the mornings and can't wait to get sat down at my desk.  So, I guess those are the kind of books you'll be seeing a lot more of from me from now on.  And if you like that kind of thing, then I hope you'll check them out.  And if you don't - steer clear!  Michelle Betham, Romance Author, is finally finding her feet in the writing world... Do I have aspirations to become the Jackie Collins of south west Durham?  Hell, yeah!  Of course I do!  *Please note, tongue was firmly in cheek there, but I wouldn't say no to being compared to Ms. Collins... I wouldn't say no at all! It's always good to have ambition, don't you think? ;-)*
Oh, and if you're in the mood for a bit of "trash" yourself, then watch out for my new book, coming in June.  'Illusions of Love' is the follow-up book to my epic 800+ page debut novel, 'No Matter What'.  Hotter and sexier than 'No Matter What' it promises more escapism, more Hollywood romance, more hot men, oh, and, of course - more "trash"! ;-)  All for under a couple of quid!

So, like the title of this post says, "trash" is always someones treasure - there are people out there who are always going to love these kind of books, me included!  And, if you're looking for a little bit of "guilty pleasure" yourself, well... you know where to come... ;-)


  1. Well said that girl!


  2. Woo hoo, Michelle, great blog and well said. And if you think about it the likes of Pride and Prejudice would have been considered trash and chicklit in their time. xx

  3. Please do NOT think your books are like EL James - yours are all ORIGINAL characters and ideas and did not start off as fan fiction. "Trashy" / "light reading" is very different to black lace books under a different guise and sold in Supermarkets.

    Classics are great, heavy reading and not any good when suffering from insomnia or wanting fun escapism. I fell in love with India, Stevie, Molly and Aimee and became immersed in their stories, which is what I wanted at the time.

    There is a place for ALL styles of writing from hate crimes to love, I'm just grateful that there are authors who are brave enough to write and publish their stories

    thank you

  4. Pam, thank you so much for your lovely comment. That really means a lot, to know you liked those characters enough to get immersed in their stories. That really does mean a lot. So, thank you. It's comments like yours that spur me on to continue writing. :-) x