I’ve been caught up in the administration of writing for the last couple of weeks, and am so thrilled to be back working on my current story. Thanks, Pam, for posting the link to the article by Martin Amis. I was really struck by this passage of Mr. Amis’ about Pride and Prejudice:
"Even now, as I open the book, I feel the same panic of unsatisfied expectation, despite five or six rereadings. How can this be, when the genre itself guarantees consummation ? The simple answer is that the lovers really are made for each other - by their creator. They are constructed for each other: interlocked for wedlock."
How can an author make the reader believe in the happily-ever-after, i.e. make the reader beliebe the hero and heroine will be sixty (or so) and still finding passion together? Passion heightened by the long understanding of lovers, and made all the more intriguing by the secrets kept for a lifetime. (Honestly, would anyone admit to their spouse what they really fantasize about?)
Mr. Amis’ idea intrigued me because one of my critiquers said the same thing of my first Bantam Dell book. She told me that she felt I created heroines and heroes who belonged together. And the truth is, I consciously want to do that. The hero has to give the heroine something that she can’t find in herself. He has to challenge her to grow. He has to complement her. On the fundamentals of life—money, morals, children, dreams and hopes, they have to be on the same page, at least eventually. In short, they have to be capable of having a strong partnership through life.
As Mr. Amis states, why are am I, as reader, on the edge of my seat, wondering whether there will be a happily ever after, even though I know there must be one? I think the mystery and excitement is in the process—and in the waiting for those moments of revelation. What I’m hanging on for is to see how each character will grow—because that’s the way they will complete each other. Unless the character changes, there can’t be the partnership. What keeps me turning the pages is the excitement of each step in the process and the pain/reluctance of each character to take that step. In Pride and Prejudice, Lizze could have accepted Mr. Darcy’s first proposal with money and security in mind. She doesn’t because he hasn’t grown yet. We might know there will be a marriage at the end, but the mystery to me is: will it be made for the right reasons, or the wrong ones? Will there be happiness? Will it last?
Now I’m preparing to work on my second book for Bantam Dell. I’m writing an erotic vampire romance right now for Aphrodisia and letting my next sensual historical romance percolate. A while ago I talked with my agent about book 1. She mentioned that I could choose a titled hero for book 2. And I could. But my heroine has survived an abusive marriage, attended a sex club for couples with her late husband, and is generally steeped in scandal. She was championed by her best friend even when everything looked black against her—did she murder her husband or not?
Even so, she could have fallen in love with an earl or a duke. How, after all, could a gentleman bring a scandalous widow into his family? But suddenly the hero stepped into my story. He’s not titled—he’s a bastard son. As a youth, he was involved in a horrible murder (he’s still heroic, though, as will be seen). He is tormented and at the start of the story, he has a death wish. These are two people I believe can believe in each other, even when the rest of their world doesn’t. It’s early days yet, and things may change for this story, but this hero and heroine are calling to me. And if I’m passionate about them, I know they are going to be passionate about each other.
What keeps you turning the pages of romance when you know there’s going to be a happily ever after ending?