Friday, February 18, 2011
A Date WIth Kate - What is Romance Anyway?
Or perhaps that's the point? Perhaps it's the fact that because it's hard to make an effort that's what makes it more romantic. It's the effort, the trying, the doing something out of routine, something a little different and a bit special that makes Valentine's Day - or indeed any day - really romantic.
Because isn't that what romance is really all about? It certainly is in the books I write. People - people who don't know the truth - tend to think of romance novels as being about soft and pretty, chocolate box, kittens and flowers sort of love. Boy meets girl, girl falls in love with boy, boy falls in love with girl, they marry and live happily ever after. It's soppy, cheesy, a 'soft'.
Not the books I write. I write about people who have real problems in their relationship. People who have reason to dislike, even to hate each other. Reason to believe the worst of someone, even as they are acknowledging that this person is really affecting them like no other person ever has in all their life. People who have to fight - with their hero or heroine, with their mistaken beliefs, and, ultimately, with themselves to reach a real, honest, deep and long-lasting love. It's an adult affair, not boy meets girl, not hearts and flowers, not pretty pink cards easily picked up in the local supermarket.
So perhaps that's it. Perhaps it's because February is such a dark, gloomy, apparently unromantic month that we celebrate romantic love in the middle of it. And Valentine's Day is really like love and romance itself isn't it? Just when everything is dark and gloomy and bleak, we have a day that reminds us to make an effort for the person we love. To show them, tell them how we feel. It may be cold and wet but with the one you love you can curl up safe and sheltered and let love keep you warm
recycled the same Valentine card every year for the 69 years they have been together because – as Harry, the husband says - ‘I knew Doris was the one for me the moment I met her. It was a heck of a night during the Blitz, but at least it meant we met each other. I gave her the Valentine’s card then and she is still my Valentine now.’
I asked several other romance writers what their definition of romance is – here are their answers
Anne McAllister whose book Hired by Her Husband is out now in Presents said:
It's the attitude behind that behavior. Behaving romantically is focusing on the other person, thinking of things -- big or small -- that matter to that person and finding a way to make them happen.
From Michelle Reid who has her new Modern Romance After Their Vows coming out in April and admits she hates the word Romance (she very wisely calls our books Relationship stories, not Romance books.)
Another RIVA writer Heidi Rice offered this
Heidi’s first bona fide Riva is Cupcakes and Killer Heels, which is a linked book to Surf, Sea and a Sexy Stranger, and is out in shops in May.
And finally, Abby Green whose book Bride in A Gilded Cage is shortlisted for the RNA Love Story of the Year Award – so she should know about romance – wrote this:
Abby has Secrets of The Oasis out in Modern Romance and In Christophides’ Keeping in Presents .
And me? I think they’re all right because I’ll go back to what I think is really romantic – thinking about the other person as an individual and caring for them in that way - finding what really matters to them and trying to make sure they have that in their lives. It’s all about putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. That’s what I try to put in my books too.
Or, in my case, the BM remembering the 1940s Lucite brooch I looked at and loved when the shop was closed – and going back to fetch it for me not because it was Valentine’s Day but because I loved it. Nice one BM – that’s romance.
What about you? What does romanc mean to you - in a book or in real life?