The Smartest Girl in the Room (The New Pioneers #1)
written by Deborah Nam-Krane
published by Deborah Nam-Krane
About the book: Nineteen year old Emily wants her college diploma fast, and she’s going to get it. But when the perfect night with perfect Mitch leads her to a broken heart, Emily is blind to her vulnerability. When the person she cares about the most is hurt as a result, Emily’s ambition gives way to more than a little ruthlessness. She’s going to use her smarts to take care of herself and protect the people she loves, and everyone else had better stay out of her way. But shouldn’t the smartest girl everyone knows realize that the ones she’d cross the line for would do the same for her?
The Smartest Girl In The Room is Book One in The New Pioneers series.
Every Free Chance Book Reviews is pleased to welcome Deborah Nam-Krane, author of The Smartest Girl in the Room, to the blog today. She has prepared the following guest post about chick lit vs. romance for all of you.
After I decided to self-publish, I spent a long time trying to decide which genre my stories fell into. When I first started writing The Smartest Girl in the Room, I set out to write a romance. Everything in my novel is pinned onto the basic structure of one: Emily meets Mitch, Emily and Mitch come together, apart, then together again, then Emily and Mitch get their Happily Ever After (HEA). So Romance, right?
Yes, but there is a lot that happens otherwise, and that action focuses on Emily’s journey into adulthood. Not incidentally, her friends are a huge part of her story. And if she’s going to get into any trouble… let’s just say that while even arguing with her romantic rival would be beneath her, she doesn’t think twice about taking on someone who hurt one of her friends, no matter how risky. That, to me, says Chick Lit.
Am I being wishy washy when I say that what I have is both? I don’t think so.
Let’s back up: what is Chick Lit? The best, most inclusive definition I’ve seen is that it’s fiction for women, about women and (usually) by women. What’s usually tagged on is “humorous”, “light”, and “fun”, but I think those are optional add-ons. One of the very first uses of “Chick Lit” was in Chick-lit: Postfeminist Fiction, an anthology edited by Cris Mazza and Jeffrey Dashell in 1995. While I consider myself a here-and-now feminist with a capital F, I think what Mazza has to say in the introduction still applies to Chick Lit:
“I realized there is such a thing as postfeminist writing. It’s writing that says women are independent & confident, but not lacking in their share of human weakness & not necessarily self-empowered; that they are dealing with who they’ve made themselves into rather than blaming the rest of the world; that women can use and abuse another human beings as well as anyone; that women can be conflicted about what they want and therefore get nothing; that women can love until they hurt someone, turn their own hurt into love, refuse to love, or even ignore the notion of love completely as they confront the other 90% of life. Postfeminist writing says we don’t have to be superhuman anymore. Just human.”
In a nutshell: women get to be human in Chick Lit. And since it is written for us and about us, we, the reader, get to see longing to have and be more, regret when we fail, exhilaration when we succeed and relief when we accept what we are and have become. Chick Lit doesn’t preclude romance, but it needs to include “the other 90%”.
If that’s Chick Lit, then what is Romance? Ask five people and you’ll get six different answers. Yes, it’s love. Yes, it’s the focus on the relationship. Yes, it’s a belief that, for at least some time, two people are meant to be together. But the best works are much more. Here are some definitions from writers and readers of romance, but I think Jennifer Crusie says it best:
“The medieval definition of a romance always involved a quest, and I think the modern romance does, too: the heroine’s quest for self-actualization. Until a woman finds out who she is and what she needs from life, she can’t really connect to another person as an equal. So the best romance novels always show a woman coming to her strength and fullness as a human being, and part of the reward for the fulfillment of that quest is a strong, equal life partner. The old ‘I can’t live without you’ always seemed so weak to me; I like the more modern ‘I can make it without you, but just by existing you enrich my life so much I’ll never want to.’”
In my story, Emily can have Mitch well before the end, but she needs to “find out who she is and what she wants” first. In other words, she needs to go on a Chick Lit journey before they can complete the arc of their Romance.
Does all Romance need to include Chick Lit? Of course not; there’s room to tell a story about two people falling in love after the two have separately come to terms with who they are. And by the same token not all Chick Lit needs Romance; I love stories about women that focus on their ambitions and achievements and leave aside finding love.
Romance and Chick Lit, on their own, can tell a great story. But put them together and you can get fireworks… just as you can for some of the most memorable couples in the best Romance novels.
About the author: Deborah Nam-Krane was born in New York, raised in Cambridge and educated in Boston. You’re forgiven for assuming she’s prejudiced toward anything city or urban. She’s been writing in one way or another since she was eight years old (and telling stories well before that). It only took 27 years, but she’s finally ready to let the world read her series, The New Pioneers. The first book in the series- The Smartest Girl in the Room– was released in late March.
And now for the GIVEAWAY!! Deborah is excited to offer two readers of Every Free Chance Book Reviews a print copy of The Smartest Girl in the Room.
Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!