Alum Isobel Carr Holds Court at Romance Writers of America Conference

Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Photo of Isobel Carr in front of bookshelf

OBSERVER -- With Carr’s nose ring — and Master of Fine Arts in poetry from San Francisco State University, she’s not exactly what I expected. That makes her absolutely typical of the women at the conference: unexpected.

“I don’t write fun romps,” Carr says. “Some people will not be happy but that’s not what I’m selling.” The Berkeley native grew up as a re-enactor in the Society for Creative Anachronism, which started as a backyard party in 1968 attended by her father. She began “fooling around” with historical fiction in 1999 or 2000, and considers her novels more like those of bestseller Philippa Gregory (“The Other Boleyn Girl”) although the “crossover readership is definitely romance.”

The definition of the genre, I discover, is a central love story where the committed couple — and that can include man and man, or woman and woman — finds a happy ending at the book’s conclusion with a foreseeable future together. This is not “Fifty Shades of Grey”: Carr clarifies that not all erotic fiction is romance. She tells the Observer, “I’m squidged out if your hero locked your heroine in a room. If I hear the hero should be in prison it’s not for me.”