I’ve been thinking about how much of my life is spent in a fantasy world. If I’m not reading, I’m writing, spending time with fictional people who only exist in my head. If I’m not writing, I’m watching series or movies on TV which is all about escapism (currently The Americans, which is brilliant fun). And if I’m not watching TV, I’m playing online fantasy games like World of Warcraft, or my latest fave, Elder Scrolls Online. Hubby and I have recently made new characters based on ourselves. (If you've seen my bio pic, can you see the resemblance?!)
I certainly don’t think I’m alone in enjoying escaping from the real world. It’s one of the main reasons that people read romance, as Carina Press’s Angela James discovered when she asked for tidbits on Twitter for a romance-positive article. You can read her summary here.
So yes, romance is about escapism and fantasy. But it’s also about making the most of the real world. Romance educates us (Maya Banks taught me everything I know about certain areas of sex!), and it makes us realize we’re not alone, because it can be a wonderful, friendly community. It helps us to understand that it’s okay to enjoy sex, and it gives us hope that there’s a loving relationship out there for us all. When we’re sad it promises a happy ending, and it takes us to all four corners (yeah, I know a globe doesn’t have corners) of the world, even New Zealand, right at the bottom!
The more romances I write, the more I feel it’s important for me, personally, to write about the real world. I love reading Fifty Shades, and reverse harem stories, and shifter romances, and we all love being swept off our feet by those dominant alpha heroes. But I like writing about real heroes and heroines, because romance isn’t always a fantasy. My heroes do ordinary jobs and leave their socks on the floor and play video games; my heroines have bad hair days and eat too much chocolate and argue with their mothers. But they all fall in love, and they all make it work. So maybe romance is about aspiration. It teaches us not that arguments don’t happen in real love, but that we can have troubled times in our relationships and we can get over them and move on. It teaches us that sex isn’t always perfect – my characters hook their watches on each other’s hair and get zippers caught and fall off the bed (Rusty, you know I'm talking about you) – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fantastic. And it teaches us that real relationships take work and compromise and imagination to keep them alive.
So get lost in a romance this weekend. And then bring a little of it into the real world. Because a little loving never did anyone any harm 😊