Monday, December 29, 2008

CJ's Conflicted Relationship with Anthologies

Please welcome Carolyn Jean of The Thrillionth Page, guest posting today on anthologies--


I was really excited when Nicola was having the anthology month and invited others to join the fun. And I have been enjoying learning about all these anthologies…plus, reading anthologies is something I want to do more of…but never seem to do more of. This month was no different. Why?

An excellent first experience
I have read exactly one genre anthology in my life: Lust Bites, an erotic vampire anthology put out by Black Lace featuring stories by Kristina Lloyd, Portia Da Costa and Mathilde Madden. I won it from Tumperkin over at Isn’t it Romance, and reading it was a really excellent experience.

The three novellas in this anthology:

In Portia Da Costa’s Buddies Don’t Bite, a heroine has a sexy vampire roommate, only she doesn’t know he’s a vampire, and he doesn’t want her to know. But they’re wildly attracted to each other. There are so many fabulously sexy scenes, like where he blindfolds her so they can go to bed together and she won’t see his crimson eyes of arousal.

Then there is Mathilda Madden’s Under her Skin, where Merle, the daughter of famous vampire hunters, has to spend 25 days living with one of her parents’ most hated vampire enemies, Darius, in order to get the antidote to save her dying father. It’s a dark, sexy study in anticipation and mind control.

Finally, there’s Kristina Lloyd’s Vampire’s Heart, a startlingly strange tale about really badly behaved vampires living in the arctic tundra. This wanton group comes into contact with explorers—one of them is leader Billy’s reincarnated lover.

I really loved this book, and what’s more, it introduced me to three really fine erotica authors, which is, I believe, one of the things an anthology should do. In fact, I recently bought and read Gemini Heat by Portia Da Costa on the strength of her Lust Bites novella, and I will probably read Lloyd and Madden in the future, too.

Why I don’t seem to read anthologies
Even though most of my favorite authors have contributed to them, somehow I’d rather read a novel. I’m a slow reader with very little time, and so I want to invest it in a long-term relationship. Anthologies feel like lots of dates.

Plus, a novel provides continuity. Once you’re into it, you know the characters and story world are all waiting for you. Anthologies make a reader jump around! I sort of hate being between books; anthologies increase that ‘between book’ feeling.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s a personality thing. Somebody should do some sort of study to see if anthology readers are more adventurous, explorer sorts, as opposed to routine and sameness-loving creatures like me. (Nicola? Because you know you are the anthology queen now.)

Why I wish I read anthologies
On a conceptual level, I think anthologies are cool, and furthermore, I think they show how vibrant, inventive and fluid the romance/paranormal/fantasy/erotica/SF genres are. I mean, these genres we move in encompass a huge diversity of forms, from shorts and excerpts to 900 page books and endless series. The story is king—at whatever length suits. Anthologies are a prime example of this.

The acceptance of e-books, esp. in the romance and erotica markets is, to me, another example of this sense of fluidity and diversity of forms.

By contrast, it seems like short stories and novellas (as well as grand-scale works) are seen as oddball forms in many other areas of the reading world—especially in literary fiction, where people like to say that short fiction is dead (aside from a dwindling roster of magazines) and authors can only get a collection published if they’re famous. Though it could be the Internet is changing that.

At any rate, I think anthologies are cool, and I love that multi-author anthologies are thriving these days. They’re a way people deepen their relationships with favorite authors while discovering new ones. What’s more, anthologies give readers credit for having the ability to discern quality, and a sense of adventure. I also think it speaks to the inclusive spirit of authors, they way they are up for giving each other rides on their coattails. So why don’t I read them? Why why why?

Oh, gosh, I feel a new year’s resolution in the making!

10 comments:

Nicola O. said...

I don't know if I'm the Queen so much as the court jester. I'm still ambivalent about anthologies.

I'm posting from work, so tonight please stop back after I've edited in the links for the various authors' home pages -- I'm pretty sure they are NSFW. :0

I typically don't review erotica here on AH, but I will just say -- Kristina Lloyd, ummm, yes. Big thumbs up.

Carolyn Jean said...

LOL. Hey, I'll send the links! Sorry to be remiss on that.

Nicola O. said...

No worries!

Tracy said...

I've not read that anthology CJ and I'm a BIG anthology reader. I'll have to check it out.

Portia Da Costa said...

Glad you liked Buddies! And the blindfold scene. ;)

Funnily enough, I'm just writing another blindfold scenario... very different vibe though. And no fangs involved... LOL

Nicola O. said...

Oh, eep! An author visit, we love that! Portia, feel free to leave links to your latest stuff!

Ana said...

"So why don’t I read them? Why why why?"

I ask myself the same question, all the time! Great post CJ...I should really read more anthologies but what you said - they are short dates as opposed to long-term relationships - is very true. This is how I feel.

Holly said...

See, I adore reading anthologies. Like you, I prefer to sink my teeth into full length novels most of the time, but when I'm short on time or in the mood for something lighter - or curious about a new author - anthologies are where I turn.

I've found many wonderful new authors because of anthologies. Just sayin'...

:P

Nicola O. said...

Ana & Holly, if you have reviews up of favorite anthologies, feel free to add them to the Mr. Linky - link in the sidebar!

Renee said...

It's funny 'cause I used to read lots of anthologies, but lately, they've been languishing in my TBR pile.

There are so many good ones coming out, too, so I can't resist picking them up. But, when I'm ready to read a new book, I almost always wind up picking up a novel.

I think it does have something to do with investment. Anthologies do seem to work best for me as in-between reading. I also no longer feel compelled to read all the stories. I "allow" myself (despite my anal tendencies) to read just the ones that capture my attention.

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