Have you ever wanted a look inside the fabulous world of romance writing? Last night the RT staff got a special peek at the magic that goes into crafting our favorite books at a screening of the documentary Love Between the Covers. We also attended a QA with Eloisa James, Len Barot (Radclyffe/L.L. Raand) and the film’s director, Laurie Kahn! And then, we went to Eloisa James’s apartment for a reception after the film. You know, NO BIG DEAL.
If you didn’t get a chance to watch the documentary, we’ve got your ticket!
The documentary was really fabulous. It gives viewers an intimate portrait of the careers of Eloisa James, Radclyffe/L.L. Rand, Beverly Jenkins, Susan Donovan, Celeste Bradley and newcomer Joanne Lockyer — among others. The biggest takeaway for us was the empowerment that the romance genre provides. So often women are made to feel ashamed of their sexuality, and uneducated because of their love of romance novels.
However, at the end of the day, romance novels are a billion dollar industry! Jennifer Crusie explains the genre best, “You can have sex without dying horribly, which I thought was a plus.”
We follow the authors through plotting, book signings and events like meet-and-greets. Susan and Celeste are plotter extraordinares! Watching their story unfold through post-it notes and index cards taped along the wall was fascinating. What an excellent insight into the hard work required to create each book we devour.
The film also visits with Beverly Jenkins, who is a true standout. She has a charisma and a fire about her that not only makes you want to be her best friend, but perfectly illustrates exactly why she has found so much success writing romance. When explaining her creative process, Beverly says that she doesn’t create the characters, they come to her and ask for their story to be told. We were especially thrilled to hear that Beverly still has lots of characters knocking on her door. In her words, “I’ve got characters stacked up in my head like planes off of LaGuardia.” We can’t wait!
Readers are venerated throughout the film as Nora Roberts and Beverly Jenkins each spend time with the fans that make all of their writing possible. Meanwhile, Len further shines a light on the importance of diversity in romance. Her publishing house, Bold Strokes Books, publishes a wealth of LGBTQ titles that are growing in popularity.
The documentary also gives us an inside look at the creation of a romance novel cover. Ever wonder where those perfectly sculpted heroes and their equally gorgeous heroines come from? Here’s a hint: there are no elaborate sets or backdrops involved.
Once the film was over, Eloisa, Len and Laurie took to the stage to answer questions from the audience. Laurie discussed how the stigma surrounding the romance genre was what inspired her to begin the project. “I like telling stories that nobody else is telling and I am especially interested in the lives of women … I am interested in these communities of women who no one takes seriously.” Len pointed out that one of the key factors contributing to the success of the romance industry is community. Could we be prouder to be a part of this community? We think not.
After the screening we all headed to Eloisa’s apartment, where we met another major star from the film … Lucy the dog!
Lucy appears in the documentary several times, keeping Eloisa company as she writes. At the afterparty, Eloisa made us a traditional trifle exactly the way one of her regency heroines would have prepared it. The perfect end to a perfect evening.
From Left: Laurie Kahn, Damon Suede, Eloisa James, Sarah Humphreys
Want to screen Love Between The Covers in your hometown (who wouldn’t)? You can find all the information you need right here. And for more romantic reads, be sure to check out our Everything Romance page.