You Would Be So Much Better, If You, Um… Weren’t You

Sexy, Dark and Bloody was my response to the comments made by a few intellectuals who believe genres like “urban fantasy and paranormal romance have no literary value.” I would have left the issue alone, if the same group of scholarly snobs had not defined literary as “a piece of writing that deals with a universal theme and evokes critical thinking.”  

They opened a door and I leapt in, ready for battle. “Some of the best quotes I’ve ever read,” I nearly screamed, “come from urban fantasy and paranormal romance novels. And I assure you, they make me think quite critically. Just because you don’t like them, or have not taken the time to understand them, it does not mean they lack value!”

“Write what you will, Magaly.” One of the guys shook his head and looked away from me. “All I’m saying is that you’ll contribute a lot more to the world, if you use your talent to write something scholarly.”

Two weeks later, the group and I began to read war literature. We were supposed to select a quote from any of our readings and share it with the class.

This is what I shared:
“Gravestones littered the ground at her feet… What was left of a wooden fence clung to one of the tree trunks looking frail, broken, but not yet ready to give up the fight...”
Here are some of the reactions:

Intellectual Snob 1 – “Impressive diction and word arrangement. “Littered” says so much about what the speaker thought about the war. The gravestones—the deaths of those buried in them—are a waste.”

Intellectual Snob 2 – “I mostly enjoyed the way the author uses the environment to convey emotions. The words “clung,” “frail,” and “broken” made me feel the devastation, but then there is hope too; they are “not yet ready to give up the fight.” Brilliant! It is like—”

Intellectual Snob 3 interrupting 2 – “And with one word, the writer tells the reader that war doesn’t only affect the soldiers. This is World War I we are talking about, and when the author writes “Gravestones littered the ground at her feet…” she is saying that the war was affecting women too.”

“Actually,” I was grinning so hard that I could hardly speak. “The character in question is a modern day witch visiting her grandfather’s grave, while being watched by a vampire. He died in Vietnam.” No one said a word, so I continued. “It’s A Strange Freedom: Blood & Fireworks by Kiki Howell. She writes hot paranormal romance with bits that arouse the body and mind.” I actually rehearsed the last two sentences and pretty proud of myself for it.

I can’t tell you the meeting ended well, but I don’t care; I proved my point. Maybe they will stop talking crap about things they haven’t read or studied. And maybe, JUST MAYBE, they will quit telling me that what I enjoy reading and writing isn’t intellectual enough. I swear that every time someone tells me that I should “use [my] talent to write something scholarly,” I feel that what they are really saying is: ‘You would be so much better, if you weren’t you.’

I’m giving away 13 copies (for Kindle) of A Strange Freedom: Blood & Fireworks by Kiki Howell. The royalties from sales finalized before midnight July 4th, will be donated to Disabled American Veterans. This freedom giveaway promotes peace and healing, which translate to a lucky Wicked Darling winning two gorgeous Peace themed ACEOs by Carder de Alejos and “The Healing Spell” by Kiki Howell.

Go check out A Strange Freedom: Blood & Fireworks and Peace Treats Giveaway. I’ve made a few changes!

For an extra entry, leave me a quote from a piece of writing most people might consider non scholarly, but that has touched you deeply and has inspired some serious thinking.   



  1. I think having to pay to sit in a class where something I love as dearly as reading and writing was talked about in the way you write about it here would make me instantly hate both subjects and never want anything to do with them ever again.
    Is it mandatory to be so clinical and detached when talking about these subjects?
    Some of the most profound things I have ever been moved by were written by authors no one has ever heard or ever will hear of. Not necessarily all have been books either.
    I can't think of just a single quote but nearly the entirety of Shel Silversteins "Where the Sidewalk Ends" was deeply significant to me as a child and again as an adult.

  2. btw I'm referencing Snob's 1, 2, and 3.

  3. I know many people who will make an effort to read something "intellectual" when they are on the bus or train, and wouldn't be caught with "trash" (i.e. everything where the author didn't win a Nobel prize or die) in their cold dead hands. (They still enjoy that stuff, they just don't admit to reading it, or in a tone of, "Well, sometimes my poor little brain needs a break from all the heavy thinking it does".)

    I think any kind of reading is a good thing, to start with, and I doubt that people who write something "scholarly" just *because* do have much heart blood for their writing. (Recently a friend of a friend heard that I was writing a novel and started a discussion on the impact of postmodern German literature on the world, and I was all like, "Wait, I'm only writing to entertain the reader, and maybe make them think a little..." - the conversation died pretty much, and I think he was not impressed. *lol*)

    The BF used to look down on anyone reading Terry Pratchett - till he caved and got himself one for his iPad. Ever since, he has been throwing quotes at me, along with lines like, "That guy is so great!" Well... ^^

  4. To Snob's 1, 2 and 3...I say..climb out of your "literary hole" and read outside your narrow list. The reading world is slipping past you and your are oblivious!!!

  5. I am so blown away by this post! To be quoted in such a way, to have had this discussion had about my writing, and what you said Magaly to defend it is so true of a lot paranormal and fantasy writing. Until I was published, I never realized how close-minded people can be. Often family, friends and acquaintances (those ones you have no choice but be around in your daily life) call my writing "trash" and of course they have not read a word of it. I put a lot into my writing, research, etc and I am always putting in little bits to make people think. It doesn't matter what genre it is. Thanks for speaking up :)


  6. I am so proud to know someone who can keep their wits about them and give the literary assholes "what for". I worked for "learned" people who lorded it over others every hour of every day because of course in their own opinion they had all the answers and we peasants didn't even know the questions. Yay for you girlie girl.
    XOXO The Olde Bagg
    btw...did the princess like her faery things?

  7. Cogent - I think most of these individuals live in their own heads. The truth is that instructors tend to welcome my eclectic ways. Other writers (those who have been working on 'the great American novel' for most of their lives) are the ones talking smack. I just ignore them most of the time or use their silliness to write pieces they truly hate. Sexy, Dark and Bloody (my little poem) won and award. The look on the faces of the individuals in question, was priceless! You are 'referencing' them lol

    Diandra - Isn't it funny how too many of the great writers were said to totally suck before they died? It's truly a shame. Hooray on the BF becoming a Terry Pratchett junkie!

    SueAnn - Well said, maybe they will actually experience a little life if they crawl out of their hole.

    Kiki - I truly like your writing and I absolutely love urban fantasy and paranormal romance. I stand behind the things and people I love, and will always defend them; something that is very easy when what people are saying against it/them makes absolutely no sense. Hugs right back at ya!

    Linda - I don't get these individuals. You would think that someone with half a brain would know that what makes culture amazing is diversity, studied and understood, but no, all they want is what they believe the rest of the world would like. Weird. And that is a HUGE yes. The butterflies are hanging on her wall, the minishrooms and tiny butterfly live in my rosemary, and the faery people (from Butterfly Land--her words not mine) live in her pink collection. In case you didn't know, the one with the daisy head is me, the one with the wand is her, and the one with staff is daddy. She played with them for hours, and for some reason Faery people from Butterfly Land speak very loud lol. And I LOVE my shoes! I'll have pics soon!

  8. I so knew exactly what you were going to do from the very beginning of this post. I would have done the same thing. And I really did like that quote, though I hate war lit. I can't do it anymore. The Marine Corps has destroyed my tolerance for war. I must have missed a day somewhere during the "desensitization."

    All at once, my mind is flooded with quotes, and yet I can't pin one down. I might have to keep one in mind and come back for it later.

    Is Douglas Adams considered "literary"? Because I think just about every other sentence he has ever written is amazing. "The ships hung in the air in exactly the way that bricks don't." Not really a moving sentence, but I was ADDICTED to his writing the moment I read it.

  9. Magaly good for you! I am proud of you, for kicking ass and not backing down! Be proud of who you are and never change! You are so talented and an amazing wicked person too ;o) Hugs!

  10. I feel sorry for the snobs as they'll never know there is good, literary fiction available as romance, paranormal romance and fantasy.

    As an example, look at the book review I did for Erin Sinclair's first two books in a series, Twilight's Son and The Betrothed.

    BTW, I am also a multi-published romance author.

  11. I agree with Slommler (and pretty much everyone else) 100%!

    It must be a sad and mundane existence to "evaluate" writing based only on narrow-minded interest and intelligence.

  12. ugh...I hate people like that! "I don't like it so it's not good" I don't know how many arguments I've had with people over certain movies or books. I don't care if you LIKE it...but don't criticize me for enjoying something different than you!
    Bet they didn't like you proving them a little wrong though ;)

  13. Colleen - I figured you would. My poor Piano Man has to hear it every day (how I detest discussing war literature). The material is painful, but what really hurts is the way certain people think of these events as something "inspiring and poetic" there is nothing freaking poetic about killing, dying and seeing those you love in pieces, but I shouldn't be so hard on them. They haven't experienced certain things... but it is just difficult to hear certain comments. For instance, there was a part where an author said "we were marching asleep" and a member of the discussion suggested that "made the story unreal because that doesn't happen." I walked out of the room for a few minutes...

    Magic Love Crow - You know me, my luv, I live to be the Witch I love to be. No one will ever change that.

    Desmond - Ditto.

    Green Witch - Hopefully one day they'll see all the beauty they've been missing. And the ugly too, but that's life--powerful, loaded, rich and on your face!

    Lilac - They were pretty pissed and I'll admit I was feeling freaking good lol

  14. All writing has merit whether it is done for private or public viewing. In the case of the latter - if it brings pleasure to a single soul, if it lifts someone's day if only for a moment, then it IS worthwhile. It angers me when people try to make words elitist, words belong to every one of us, they are the tools we use to express our thoughts, to define our natures, to give shape to our fantasies and no one has the right to say how those words should be arranged or composed or written down and read.

    Good post, thank you.

  15. Kudos my friend!!!
    You handled yourself very scholarly...I deal with this almost everyday at work & class, just think you contributed to the expansion of the "intellectual" mind, Welcome to another day of higher education snobs, lol. I have used a particular quote that has described my feelings (since residing in a place where I am an outsider) I found it expressed what I have wanted to say but couldn't find the write words to be understood by narrowmindedness...
    by: Maya Angelou "The heart of a woman"
    I found this to best explain what it is that I am feeling til this day. <3 sweet & dark blessings

  16. You go girl! Wear those big ovaries proudly! Magaly, you may very well be one of my heroes. I love the way you slipped it to them with such class and grace. And the quote you shared...outstanding!

    My universe would suffer greatly if you weren't you. Thank you for sharing your own certain spark of light and making me truly think each time I visit your remarkable world.


  18. I'm obviously much more coherent when I'm writing comparatively academic articles upon philosophy and theology, than I am writing fiction, but I have a great deal of respect for those who can weave an actual story from the basic building blocks of language, because I think those works of fiction - whatever the genre - speak to how we are in the world, and moreover, they create and reinforce the common mythology which we inhabit.

    I've given one presentation for an English department's graduate conference upon how William Gibson's Neuromancer presages our manner of conceptualizing space, when we confront the virtual "space" of the online world. (There's a somewhat technical debate in modern philosophy going back to Leibniz and Kant, and Gibson actually helps breathe new life into Leibniz's position.) Gibson wasn't trying to reignite this philosophical debate, of course. But Gibson did ask some serious, meaningful questions about how we perceive the world around us.

    Likewise, we too quickly forget that the great horror master H.P. Lovecraft, who really explores some serious questions about racial identity (not always in the most sensitive ways) and religion (almost never in an uplifting way), and even the sorts of social responses we have to things like relativity - H.P. Lovecraft was writing for the pulp magazines. (And we honor his memory with many unspeakably cute Chthulu plushies today!) We can look back at his legacy and his cultural impact in very scholarly ways, of course, but that's not the audience for which Lovecraft was writing. He wrote in order to weave a story, and we are better off for that focus. So don't let anyone tell you what you're doing is somehow less important or less meaningful than what they're doing.

  19. Oh my, Mags. You certainly have your hands full with groups like this. People who refuse to read outside of their comfort zone and actually learn about what they're reading just irk me.

  20. Everyone needs to read many genres in order to be well read and well rounded in their outlooks...congratulations on being able to think on your feet and get out the retort needed to make your point...

  21. Score! (high five)

    Buncha wannabe playas. I endorse my definition of literature over theirs:

    "Literature is written word that removes a person from his current place, time, and companions and introduces him to new ones. Worthy literature makes him continue to digest that new world, and even miss it, when the last word of the last page has been read."

  22. Wow, Snoozepossum, can I use that quote? I love it! It is absolutely perfect :)

  23. Paranormal Romance was the genre that first got me to love reading back in middle school. I took alot of crap then and through middle school because I read "Dirty Books", but those same books that I was ridiculed for I also gained a great vocabulary with, discovered my passion for reading and writing, and captured both my attention and heart in their words. I've learned to not be ashamed of my love of paranormal romance. Authors like Sherrilyn Kenyon and Kim Harrison aren't Faulkner, but they still have a profound impact on the readers of our time.

  24. Thanks for the book recommendation, I couldn't resist so got it from Amazon and it's a brilliant read.

  25. I truly enjoy and like everything I write, but I must say that after reading what I've said surrounded by your wonderful comments, I just LOVE my words. You, my luvs, are freaking amazing!

  26. I truly enjoy and like everything I write, but I must say that after reading what I've said surrounded by your wonderful comments, I just LOVE my words. You, my luvs, are freaking amazing!

  27. Wow, Snoozepossum, can I use that quote? I love it! It is absolutely perfect :)