I do not take drugs, I am drugs’. – Salvador Dali
From the cold perspective of subway tokens, couch covers and evening television, books don’t seem to have much in common with drugs. But a good book is nothing but a written virus that plays with your synapses and, hacking your mind with words, causes the release of the chemicals that make you feel attraction, excitement, suspense, tension, relief, lust, perhaps even love.
People who buy romance do so in copious amounts. My mother’s collection of old Mills and Boon books numbers in the many hundreds and I dare say she is not alone. All romance follows the same formula with little tweaks here and there – as does all genre fiction. Why would anyone want to read the same story not once, but thousands of times, always the same story told with slight and subtle variations? For the same reason people will consume hundreds or thousands of cups of coffee or cigarettes or other mind altering substances over their course of their lives – because it makes them feel good.
A genre is nothing more than a subset of mind virus, a particular family of specific tales that are designed to make the reader feel a certain way. And feelings are, on a base biological level, nothing more than the interplay of the chemicals upon which our minds rest. A skillful author is only different from a chemist in that instead of formulating a physical drug for you to ingest orally or otherwise, he or she uses combinations of words to trigger the chemistry of your mind.