A Better Version of Reality
Some of my family members want to know when I’m going to write a “real” book. This is one of those well-intentioned questions like So, are you seeing anyone special? or Isn’t Johnny potty-trained yet? that generally drive women at family gatherings to the bar.
But I know what those kindly relatives are trying to ask. When am I going to write a novel in which the characters love and strive and despair and are defeated, but ultimately emerge from their crappy experience sadder and wiser? You know, like “real” life. They think I’m wasting my time and that lovely, expensive education my parents provided writing books with couples on the covers and happy endings and (my relatives lower their voices here, in the hushed tones appropriate for funerals and unpleasant topics like illness and alchoholism) sex.
I think my relatives need a better version of reality. Or life. Preferably one that includes sex.
Which is why I celebrate romance.
Romance doesn’t ignore striving or loss. But it is not despairing. Romance is what gives two clueless kids fresh out of college the courage to commit to a lifetime together. Or two adults wounded by experience the hope to love again. Or a long-time couple the patience, the joy, the juice, to endure.
As readers and writers of romance, we choose to believe that we have the power and the right to seek our own happy endings. But we are not only concerned with the destination. We believe in the journey, in the ways of love.
Anne Lamott once said that writing can do for you what having a baby can do. It can soften you up. It can make you pay attention. The same can be said about romance. Romance can wake up your senses and rouse your heart. It can make you kinder, braver, more attentive.
Love can do all those things, of course—love for a parent, a child, a friend. I love writing about fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and lovers. But, yes, especially about lovers. Because every relationship is a fresh challenge for me as a writer. Every couple has to negotiate what they want in terms of life and love and sex.
Romance calls us to love the Other, the One Who Is Not Us. Romance invites us to accept the unfamiliar, to choose something outside ourselves. And paradoxically, that choosing can help us to become our best selves. To be the reflection of the beloved in the eyes of the lover—this is romance’s challenge and its heart.
You don’t get more real than that.
Do your friends and family share your reading (or writing) preferences?
I can happily read my way through last year’s entire RARM list. (awww – thanks Virginia! ~ Bobbi)
But I’d have to add Laura Florand (8/14) and Christie Ridgway (8/20).
Questions for the Author:
1 – Describe the most daring, adventurous or inspiring thing you ever did.
I got married at twenty-two to my college sweetheart. That was daring, since we had no money and no clue what we were doing, and our parents thought we were insane. And the last thirty-six years together have certainly been an adventure!
2 – Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)
I’ve always been a writer. I wrote fairytales for my younger cousins, plays to perform on a friend’s porch with the other neighborhood kids, poems in high school (very bad poems). I was a college English major. But it wasn’t until my youngest child started kindergarten that I began to write full-time.
3 – Tell us about the (or a) book that changed your life. (Why?)
Mary Stewart’s Nine Coaches Waiting was the first romance I ever read. I was thirteen—maybe fourteen?—and traveling through Europe with my parents. I absolutely loved it.
Virginia Kantra is generously giving away 5 copies of Carolina Man (entry form below). Domestic only, apologies to international friends.
Virginia Kantra is the New York Times bestselling author of over twenty-five books of contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and paranormal romance. Her deeply emotional stories have won numerous awards, including Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award. CAROLINA MAN, the third in her new Dare Island series, was a March 2014 release. In October, look for CAROLINA BLUES.
Married to her college sweetheart and the mother of three mostly adult kids, Virginia lives in North Carolina. She is a firm believer in the strength of family, the importance of storytelling, and the power of love. Visit her online at www.virginiakantra.com
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