Opening address: CS Pacat ‘The courage to be romantic’

CS Pacat is the author of the ‘Captive Prince’ trilogy.  Captive Prince and Prince’s Gambit are currently available, and Kings Rising will be available in February 2016.

“In order to write romance we must allow ourselves to be seen, really seen, and that is an act of great courage.”  – CS Pacat

The ‘Captive Prince’ series began its lift as a web serial, and had a roundabout path to commercial publication.  Pacat had thought that due to the type of story (political fantasy) and the male / male romance it was not the type of book that would ever be picked up by a traditional publishing house.

Pacat lived for a time in Japan, where she picked up a book that she thought must be fantastic because it was sold with a privacy cover.  She subsequently discovered that all books are wrapped up in Japan, because reading is an activity that is considered private.

When e-readers first became available, all the articles about them focused on how (western) readers can finally read whatever they like privately.  Pacat noted that unlike the situation in Japan, where all books are treated as private, it was implied that only certain books that were felt to be hidden – because of their subject matter, because they weren’t considered worthy of public space.

This is a view that is unfortunately widespread:  the romance genre deals earnestly with sentiment and vulnerability, subjects often devalued and even ridiculed in the wider community. Writing romance means exposing taboo parts of the self, from female sexuality to the kind of emotionalism that is rarely allowed serious expression elsewhere.

Society is judging what has value, what ‘they’ say people should be reading.  However it doesn’t always mesh with what people want to read.  There is a myth of perfection without effort that is prevalent in society, but it is also false.

There is something vulnerable about writing romance, because in doing so we expose our fantasies  and thereby expose ourselves.  It is easy to stay small and under the radar, but it takes great courage to write romance because it allows ourselves to be seen.


Disclaimer:  I have not read the Captive Prince series at this time, nor did I know any of the background at the RWAus15.  However I found the Opening Address along with the subsequent ‘How to Plot a Page Turner’ workshop to be intelligent, interesting, informative, and really worthwhile.  I also kind of had a bonding moment with CS Pacat at the ‘World Building panel’ session over another author.

Note:  The ‘Captive Prince’ series started its life as an original web serial in 2008.  Pacat felt that there was a gap in the market for the type of books that she liked to read herself, but could never find.  By 2009 when Prince’s Gambit started to be released, the series had 30,000 returning readers each month.  Initial efforts to have a physical publication met with rejection, reinforcing the view that it was the kind of book that could not get mainstream publication.  Pacat decided to self-publish, and the paperback and ebook versions both reached No. 1 on the Amazon Gay and Lesbian fiction lists within 24 hours of release.  This success lead to subsequent offers from publishing houses, and the first two books along with the upcoming release of Kings Rising are by Penguin.

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