Working in a bar, a part of my job is to chat people up. Bartending is so much more than just making drinks and it helps a lot to have ready snippets of conversation to loosen a person up. Telling guests that I write romance novels works like a charm... with men and women alike.
Comments made to me upon hearing this are:
1) Oh, I'm going to write a book someday! And then they tell me all about this great idea they've been thinking about for years... memoirs, a dream, and sometimes just a crazy idea that's been swimming around in their head for decades. Very fun. They're loosened up now and will generally begin conversing with other people around them.
2) From men... (of course)... Do you write the kinds that have sex scenes in them? What does your husband think of this? I'm a little weary at this point but I generally tell them, "of course," and... "My husband read one of them and asked me... 'where do you come up with all this stuff?'" "Remember, these are FICTION!" Again, loosens up the guests and they begin talking with others around them.
3) And then occasionally somebody is legitimately interested in ME. Which genre of romance? they ask me. I tell them usually Regency. If they don't know what it is, I explain it to them and they are baffled."Why would you want to write about Regency Romance?"
In truth, it was not a nice time to live, unless you were rich. I clarify this to them right off the bat. But these folks lived with fascinatng societal boundaries that are different from today. And yet, if you delve into them, analyze the why's, there is some logic to them. I tell the person that I love building a character in my mind, a few characters, and then throwing problems and situations in their direction. What with the boundaries and rules they must abide by, it makes for some really fun situations.
I love the clothing, and the titles, and the fairy tale HEA, of course, but toss a curious problem in with a few good gossips and the dragons at Almacks and it's fun, fun, fun!