Hi Maryann! It’s great to be here to talk with you and your readers today. Since your blog focuses on the absurdities of life, I thought I’d talk about Pushing Boundaries with Trauma and Genre.
I’m a big fan of mainstream/literary fiction: those authors who delve deeply into the grittiness of life – John Irving, Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain, Joyce Carol Oates. They don’t pull punches. They write what they’ve seen in some manner. And they write about some of the biggest societal issues of their individual times. They’re social historians.
On the other hand, I’m a romantic at heart. I like happy endings. I enjoy exploring what makes us choose one mate over another and what holds us together or drives us apart. When you mix those genres, there are bound to be crossed lines.
Up to now, my novels blended the two without much line-crossing. Finishing Touches can nearly be called a sweet romance, although I push it just far enough to call it sensual. Its biggest line-cross is that there is only one POV – the heroine’s. Otherwise, the story reads quickly and deals with loss and personal exploration, but mainly with relationship building. It ends happily. My Rehearsal series is fairly light, although each one gets heavier as the characters grow up, and includes both heroine and hero POV, plus the antagonist’s viewpoint. Its biggest line-cross is the length: each book is quite long.
My most recent, Off The Moon, is a true boundary pusher. It is still romance, with the necessary “girl-meets-boy, separation of some kind, happy together ending” story line. However, unlike most contemporary romance heroines, Kaitlyn is not strong, independent, and sure of what she wants. (Or is she?) She’s very quiet. Ryan often has to try to figure out what she means from her cryptic words. She’s also very young for a romance heroine. This is part of the story conflict that leads to the mainstream approach of exploring cultural issues. How is age of consent determined? Who decides when it’s proper and when it’s not? Where does that line between right and wrong meet and cross? In current society where so many of our teens are having children while they still are children, this issue is foremost in many minds. Why are they starting so young? Is it hurting them? What are they looking for?
The story is gritty. It deals with loss and abuse and trust issues. There are references to casual sexual relations, although none is shown more than a hint. Mental care issues come in to play, as does health care and single parenting.
As I was writing the story, I was often in a quandary about where it was headed. I allow my characters to go where they need to go, to tell their story as they need to tell it. This one took a very deep turn as Ryan’s voice pervaded and I kept stopping to think, “Oh, but romance readers won’t expect that, or possibly appreciate it.”
Still, his voice wouldn’t silence. Neither would Kaitlyn’s. They had things to say and it had to be said true to their stories.
Kaitlyn has a lot of trauma in her past by the time she meets Ryan. There were times I thought I’d pushed it too far, had given her too much to deal with. And then I would catch bits of the news, real events I had trouble believing would actually happen. Life is absurd, indeed. Fiction might need to make more sense than life in some ways, but it should also reflect it.
Did I push the boundaries of romance fiction too far while merging with mainstream this time? For those who want light and quick, probably. It’s not a quick read. It includes not only scenes necessary for the plot, but also Ryan’s musings about the plot issues. For those who enjoy very deep, full characters with full backgrounds and family histories, I think it isn’t too far across the line. Boundary pushing readers will understand. Maybe they’ll even see themselves here and there.
It does have a happy ending, as will all of my novels. Even if life doesn’t always.
Buy Link for Off the Moon preorders:
free US shipping through Nov. 27, discounted outside US
Also, be sure to check my BLOG for novel-related features. I have an interview with NYC drummer Gino Scalmato up, as well as an interview with singer/songwriter Vicki Blankenship. More to come! http:
Off The Moon
“Riveting” Ryan Reynauld is immersed in a world of music, parties, and temporary companionship. Having risen to the top of the pop charts, his biggest concern is objecting to the way his music is produced. That is, until he finds a young woman standing on a window ledge. Against the advice of family and friends, and through media attacks and fan protests, Ryan determines to care for her himself, making a promise that threatens to destroy his career.
Convincing the skittish girl she can learn to trust again comes with a steep price. Sometimes the path to recovery begins by allowing your world to implode.