American setting aren't done these days. Publishers don't believe that readers will buy them. Which is why all the writers who used to write them, myself included, are now all doing other things. But these trends all come in cycles, so it's sure to be back eventually.
Glad that you and Eva Gale both read SIMPLE JESS. That's a story that really means a lot to me. And to a lot of other people too. I created the character as the heroine's brother in MARRYING STONE. But he was such a great guy I wanted to give him his own book. As soon as I'd finished, I proposed that and my editor turned me down. She said that readers wouldn't go for a mentally handicapped hero. So I moved on, wrote something else and then the movie FORREST GUMP came out and was such a splash, my editor called as said, "You know that book you wanted to write..." So I got busy on SIMPLE JESS. Unfortunately, during the time I got the okay and the time the book was completed, my editor left. The new editor was unfamiliar with my work and when SIMPLE JESS showed up on her desk, she was horrified. She didn't think that the relationship as it was written was "appropriate" and she wanted me to rewrite it to make him smarter. I couldn't do that because he was already in print in Marrying Stone. So after lots of upheaval and argument, SIMPLE JESS was released. The number of copies printed was very small, the cover was nondescript. And it went to the sales department with the notation "controversial" which basically means buy at your own risk.
Not a lot of people did buy it at first. Romance readers were as skeptical of a mentally challenged hero as the editor believed they would be. But slowly, slowly, slowly people began to read it. And they began to like it. I've gotten more feedback on that story than any other - - and all of it has been positive. Jess had such a low print run that it was doomed to commercial failure, but it continues to pay and pay in wonderful feedback dividends. The rights reverted to me several years ago, so I’m always thinking that someday somebody will buy it from me for a reprint and this time give it the push that it truly deserved.
In the industry, people thought the story was a career killer. And it did kill my career at that particular publishing house. If I'd had any sense at all about how to get ahead and move up on the lists, I never would have written it. But I guess it goes to show you that sometimes being too stupid to know better leaves us open to achieve some pretty wonderful things.
Simple Jess is one of my favorite Pamela Morsi books and I for one am glad that it finally made it to print.
Most avid readers know romance on a whole is very cyclical, what's hot now wont be in a couple of years, and publishers are going to take advantage of this and continue publishing what's going to have the largest financial return. And yet you can't help but wonder how many great books have never been published because the publishers deemed them not marketable?