Flexible Nations: Canadian Romance Writers, American Romance, and the Romance of Canada

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what is it that determines the nationality of an author, a novel, a company, or a genre? And how do writers learn to care about this issue? These questions are at the centre of this chapter, and form part of ongoing questions about the place of Canadian producers of culture in an increasingly global marketplace. (199)

To achieve success in the romance market, one's work must circulate and circulate widely, through specific commercial channels. Yet the work of romance writers, the novels themselves, does not always circulate effortlessly. Writers know this, and they try to predict which factors will shape this circulation. The views of Canadian romance writers on the nationality of their own writings are shaped by the structures of the literary field, in particular by the practices of publishing across the Canada-US border. The promotion of forms of cultural capital (through the media and the structure of government funding, for example) works to centralize literary fiction in the Canadian literary field, and thus shapes the possible positions within the field for romance writers and publishers. The counterpart to this structuring of the national field is the identification of the subfield of romance literary production with Americanness. In the second part of the chapter, I look at how writers in a major Canadian city experience this division and try to write Canada into or out of their novels. Since the imagined audience for romance fiction is primarily an American one, writers often wonder whether American readers and editors are interested in reading books set in Canada. Finally, I examine how one particular romance author, Kate Bridges, combines the iconic Canadian symbol of the Mountie and Canada's history of migration in a series of Western-set historical romances which both draw on a long-standing image of Canada known to have appeal in the United States and portray a Canadian nationalism centred around the rewards and anxieties of movements across borders. (200-201)