“One of the things that I’ve always been into, passionate about, and focused on is love stories,” says Monique Patterson, in one heck of an understatement. The romance publishing veteran, who was tapped in February to helm Bramble, Tor Publishing Group’s new romance imprint, has made a top-tier publishing career out of finding and putting out romance novels across a span of subgenres. Underselling it less, she adds, “That gives me a lot of room to play, because there are so many different kinds of love stories.”

November marked Patterson’s 23rd year at Macmillan Publishers. Three years into her first publishing job, at HarperCollins’s Avon imprint, Patterson was approached by Jennifer Enderlin, then v-p and publisher of Griffin and St. Martin’s Press paperbacks, who wooed her over to SMP. There, she rose to become v-p and editorial director of the St. Martin’s Publishing Group in 2020, before moving over to Bramble, which published its first book, Jennifer Armentrout’s Fall of Ruin and Wrath, in September. To date, the book has sold roughly 50,000 print copies, according to Circana BookScan.

Bramble’s bailiwick may be everything romance, but its inaugural list has a strong focus on the place where the romantic and the speculative meet. Patterson is a veteran in the space, having acquired paranormal romances by such authors as L. Penelope, Sherilynn Kenyon, and the late L.A. Banks both before and during the boom time that followed the massive success of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga. That experience positions her perfectly to make another mark now, as the romantasy category booms.

Romantasy may be the shiny new portmanteau on the block, but the fusing of speculative fiction and romance, Patterson notes, is nothing novel. She points to series by such authors as Amanda Bouchet and Jeffe Kennedy that would likely be categorized as romantasy now, but came out before the term was coined. It was tough putting out such books in years past, but they “would probably do wonderfully now,” she says.

What is new, Patterson says, is a generation of readers coming to romantasy, and such related subcategories as dark academia, from the young adult space. They discover books online (especially on TikTok) and are eager for titles from both traditional publishers and self-published authors. For editors like Patterson, signing the authors who make it big in the self-publishing world, Armentrout included, is now par for the course. And as the category grows, so do the possibilities, which Patterson and Bramble are as well positioned as anyone in publishing to pursue.

“It’s always very funny when people start talking about publishing and something being dead—aw, this thing is dead, or that subcategory is dead, or whatever,” Patterson says—appropriately enough for a paranormal fiction veteran. “Nothing is ever really dead, and if you wait long enough, it may have its well-deserved moment.”

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