For one thing, neither I nor my characters are young things looking for Mr. Right, either consciously or unconsciously. In Fish-Eye Lens, my women have been around the block. They're widowed or have marriages in various states and stages: The couples are comfortable friends, or struggling to move in different directions, or living in different spheres.
And "lit," of course, is a misnomer for the genre from the start. "There's nothing literary about this," I warn my sophisticated friends (yes, I have a few). "It's a beach read."
There you have it: beach read. I'm not afraid or ashamed to say it. Nor am I afraid of Fish-Eye Lens being called chick lit, even though it's only barely true.
In my early days of pitching this book, I would describe it as "chick lit for the over-50 set." Then one agent told me that the publishing world saw "chick lit" as a very narrow genre, with 25-year-old protagonists, a city setting (preferably New York), shopping, martinis and fashions (preferably shoes). Oops. I've got 40- and 50-year-olds, an island, rum and no mention whatsoever about what anyone's wearing. These women are usually barefoot. I switched to "beach read."
It turns out, though, that Fish-Eye Lens might indeed be chick lit in the newest sense. Pauline Millard has written an article in the Huffington Post titled "Chick Lit Grows Up," in which she claims, "a different breed of chick lit has appeared with smarter writing and characters." She points to recent sellers The Recessionistas, The Social Climbers Handbook and Bond Girl, all of which feature New York's financial world rather than magazine offices or the typing pool, and notes that the new protagonists are well-educated and sharp instead of clueless ingenues.
Well, that's an inch closer to Fish-Eye Lens, but still miles away from East Taino Island and my boozy dilettantes. Still, if someone wants to call it chick lit, that's OK by me.
As for me, I'll stick to "beach read."