Ever since I first read Bridget Jones’ Diary I've been pretty much addicted to chick lit. I will seriously read just about any chick lit novel I can get my hands on. I'm a serious reader who loves collecting books to re-read over and over again. My home office has four bookcases with one whole bookcase is dedicated to chick lit. Some of my favorite authors and favorite books are chick lit. I think it was a pretty natural transition for me to start writing in the genre as well.
So, what is chick lit, anyhow? I can’t tell you how often I'm asked that question by people unfamiliar with the genre. If you ask five authors that same question, chances are you’ll get five different answers. I keep it simple when describing chick lit. In my mind, chick lit is any novel with a strong female protagonist, a strong romantic element, and a humorous and/or light feel. The biggest difference, in my humble opinion, between chick lit and straight romance is that chick lit focuses primarily on the protagonist and her journey whereas a romance novel focuses more on the romance element. A chick lit book is more likely to deal with issues relating to the main character’s career, her family, and her relationships. I think there’s a misconception that all chick lit is completely fluffy and candy-coated with an overabundance of stilettos and shopping. While I like shoes and shopping as much as the next person, I think there’s definitely room in chick lit to deal with more serious subjects.
Marian Keyes, author of such chick lit classics as Watermelon and This Charming Man, is one of my favorite authors, and she definitely doesn't stick to the light and fluffy. She tackles issues like domestic violence, drug addiction, alcoholism, cheating, and infertility. Emily Giffin (Something Borrowed, Where We Belong) has written about infidelity and teenage pregnancy. Harriet Evans (Happily Ever After, I Remember You), has addressed such complicated issues as alcoholism and abortion. But each of these authors, and many others like them, somehow manage to write about these issues in a way that is both humorous and fun. To me, that is the mark of a good chick lit read.
I remember reading Bridget Jones’s Diary the first time and thinking, this is how my friends talk. Helen Fielding gave Bridget such a strong voice; she felt like a girl I knew, a girl I would want to hang out with. She felt like me. I think that’s what brings me back to the genre again and again; the relate-ability. Chick lit is generally told with a very strong narrative voice. A good author can bring you right into the protagonist’s head. You know how she feels about her life, about her friends, about her romantic experiences. Before long, she starts to feel like a friend.
That’s what I always try to accomplish in my books. I look to create a mix of light-heartedness, humor, and struggle to succeed for the main character. In my new book, In Search of a Love Story, Emily Donovan is searching for love with the help of her friends. She’s also struggling to find success in her career, deal with the lingering effects of the loss of her mother, and, perhaps most importantly, find her own voice. My hope is that I've created a character that people can relate to, and a story that’s enjoyable to read. Because really, isn't that what chick lit is all about?