nicholas sparksAspiring author Monica Clark had an interesting encounter recently.

She asked famous author Nicholas Sparks a question at a recent event, according to her blog. She asked Sparks this:

“I noticed that when female writers write about relationships or an emotional journey, no matter how deep and well-written it is, it’s usually described as chick lit. Have your books ever been described as chick lit? And how do you think the response to your books or your career would have been different if your name had been Nicole Sparks instead of Nicholas Sparks?”

Oh boy.

The answer could have gone a number of ways and in this case, it didn’t go well.

Clark was not happy with the response and neither were many popular authors on social media including Maureen Johnson and Jodi Picoult.

The biggest thing that came out of Clark’s inquiry was Sparks saying his books have never been described as ‘chick lit.’ Interesting. I have only thought of his books as chick list (that’s not a bad thing). I guess I’m wrong.

Then there was this:

Sparks didn’t directly answer my next question about whether his books would have been received differently if he had been a woman. Rather, his response was essentially this: “for some reason, all the writers in my genre—“love tragedy” —happen to be men” and “for some reason, women just haven’t been able to successfully break into the market.”

Love Tragedy.

Monica Clark

It seems as though Sparks has created his own genre that consists solely of male author. A genre I have never heard of. In fact, Amazon, which has more book genres that I can keep track of does not have a category of “love tragedy.” When I go to “Women’s Fiction” on Amazon, Sparks’ “The Longest Ride” is the first book that shows up.

Naturally, many were disappointed by Sparks’ reaction in this, including Clark.

Picoult tweeted, “Love tragedy”? More proof of gender discrimination in pub”

I don’t disagree with Picoult’s assessment, but this is coming from Sparks’ own mouth. This isn’t a publishing media outlet or a publisher telling the world that Sparks is different than other ‘chick lit’ authors. This isn’t other people trying to make Sparks something he is not.

This is Nicholas Sparks saying that he is different. I think it has to be looked at as one situation and not condemn the entire publishing world. There are many authors who support women and female authors – and just good stories no matter who writes them.

As people have tried to think of women who have wrote “love tragedy” it seems they are having a hard time finding them. I think that has more to do with the fact that isn’t actually a real genre. I would actually love to see Sparks define “love tragedy.” I have read a number of his books, usually while traveling because it makes for a quick, easy read.

Are there tragic love stories? Of course. But it’s not its own category and Sparks shouldn’t try to make himself something he is not. If he tries – and it seems he is – he risks alienating himself to some readers (although I guess there are enough Sparks readers out there he doesn’t have to worry about this).

Chick lit isn’t a bad thing. Perhaps there is a negative connotation that goes along with the term. However, women’s fiction books make millions of dollars every year. It’s not a bad thing.


The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail