Wednesday 27 June 2012

Romance of the Everyday

When it comes to writing romance, I am in love with the everyday. Again and again, I actively seek out fiction and romance that deals with so-called ‘ordinary’ people.


Because to me a hero or heroine is more striving and heroic if they win through after many trials and adventures with their own skills, wit and effort, not because they happen to be born into a class or position.

Because a hero is more beautiful to me if he is not massively handsome but that feeling, true emotion for the heroine, makes him ‘pretty’. (I also like this theme the other way round – I love the part in Jane Eyre where the heroine goes down to breakfast after accepting Mr Rochester’s proposal and she looks, even to herself, glowing and pretty, ‘truly pretty’ as Mr R tells her.)

Because if the hero or heroine has tons of money or special powers that they can use at the snap of their languid fingers, where is the tension?

Skill impresses me and has a poetry of its own. Watch anyone who is really good at something – a potter with a wheel, a farrier, a shepherd, a dustman dealing with wheelie bins – and there is an elegance, a romance. I love to celebrate skill in the romances I write and I always have my warrior have a gentler skill as well as their fighting. (I don’t admire a fighter who can do nothing but battle, because how can such a person create a life and a relationship if they only destroy?) A warrior as strong protector, yes, a warrior fighting for kudos, OK, but a warrior who is a glory-junkie and no more? No thanks.

We live in a complex world and I like to write romances that reflect this and celebrate whose who heal, who create, who build, who make.

So I write about knights but mainly younger sons, who have to make their own way and who don’t have everything handed to them – I do this in A Knight's Enchantment and A Knight's Captive - and knights who are scarred or grieving and must find another path to live their lives  - I do this in A Knight's Prize, A Knight's Vow and The Snow Bride.

I write about foresters and dairy maids (Midsummer Maid), slave girls and scribes (Flavia's Secret), serfs and peasants (A Knight's Prize, The Lord and Eleanor) bull-leapers and kings of small, rural kingdoms where the king helps with the harvest and is also a healer (Bronze Lightning).

In all these, I try to weave the everyday into the stories, those special everyday moments – the first kiss, the ‘I love you’ time, the recognition that this person is ‘the one’, the moment when my hero and heroine meet again, feeling a happy glow, even if they’ve only been apart for a moment. 

We all have times when the world shimmers about us and we feel apart from the hurly-burly, when we step into our own magic world with those we care about.

Everyday but special. That’s what I love to write about and read about.

Writers, do you have stories that show and feature ‘everyday’ heroes and heroines? If so, please mention them with details  in the comments section of this blog. 


Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Hi, Lindsay, I like your idea of everyday heroes and heroines. I, too, write them. The school librarian, the web designer, the accountant, etc. These are the people we know every day. My short story collection is Man Theory and Other Stories.

Thank you for letting me share.

Savanna Kougar said...

Hi Lindsay, most eloquently spoken. Your words move my heart and soul. As do your heroines and heroes.

My warrior type heroes always have other gentler skills and abilities as well. Because like you said there is no way to build a life together if it's only about fighting, and about a level of glory that means nothing.

And my heroines have always traveled a difficult road with hardships that both crush them, and bring forth their courage.

However, no, I don't think my heroines and heroes fit in your parameters, given they have certain 'extra' powers, so I won't mention any of my books.

That said, imo, human beings have all these 'extra' capabilities, but have been denied them, in general, by the concerted effort, century after century, of the dark-side powers that be. Yeah, high conspiracy stuff. I admit it.

BTW, you should post this on the HEA blog. It's perfect!

Mary Lou George said...

I agree with you. I write for Bookstrand as well (pen name Mary Lou George) and I have to admit not all my characters are 'regular' since some of my books are paranormal in nature. However, my most recent book 'Lemonade Dreams' does feature a heroine who grew up chubby and awkward. I still like extraordinary heroes own weakness. And everyone asks why I'm still single. LOL. Too often we make heroes of celebrities and sports figures when all we have to do is turn our gaze to our mother, father, sisters, brothers etc...Cheers...

Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Savanna and Mary Lou - please add your books!
I didn't make it clear in the article. I have no problem with paranormal or other powers if there is strife with it, if it comes at some difficulty for the hero or heroine. I suppose I mean that whole creaky God in the Machine bit, which I know you certainly don't write.

Hi Vicki - I love your heroes and heroines! Espec the librarian - my hubby is a librarian. (Even though he looks like a policeman.)

Jenny Twist said...

Another lovely piece, Lindsay. And how true your observations are. Too often the everyday heroes go unsung. And I, for one, prefer them

Anonymous said...

And boy do you do a great job at making the ordinary hero and heroines shine!!!

Gilli Allan said...

Great post. I am totally with you on wanting to read and write about 'ordinary' heroes and heroines. I write, and mainly read contemporary fiction. But I am not interested in stories where everyone is drop dead gorgeous, and living jet set or celebrated lives. I want to identify. I want to read and write about ordinary people living ordinary lives. Their stories can be just as much of a roller-coaster, be just as interesting, dramatic and emotional, without the glamour and the designer labels. And, more importantly, you can sympathise and empathise. It might be you or the bloke next door.

Suzie Tullett said...

Well you can't get more ordinary than a hero and heroine from the North of England - the protagonists in my novel Going Underground. Think along the lines of The Full Montey and you're there, although sadly there's no strip tease!

Like you, Lindsay, I think there's something quite special in the 'everyday' we just have to be able to see it.

Great post x

Miriam Newman said...

I agree, Lindsay. It's all well and good to read about the aristocracy; we are fascinated by them to a large extent. But nuts-and-bolts living is what really grabs my attention. These were the people who were our ancestors, when it comes to historicals. And they're our neighbors, in contemporaries. Or...gasp...they're us. :)

Sarah J. McNeal said...

What a lovely and well written blog, Lindsay. Having read some of your work, I can testify to the inner beauty of your heroes and heroines. Your characters grab at the heart.
I wish you every success.

Erin OQuinn said...

Hi, Lindsay. Once again I am swept up in your prose. Not only do I agree with your point of view, I revel in it! It's all the more endearing when a non "heroic" character can reveal the traits that make a human rise above those around him--whether through compassion, insight, actions or beliefs. Your scarred knight in THE SNOW BRIDE comes to mind. I especially like your words today,"I like to write romances that... celebrate whose who heal, who create, who build, who make."

My favorite characters in my own books are people like the rough cattleman Ryan, the uneducated pony trainer Wynn, the blacksmith Luke. Each of these men shows a side wholly unexpected--whether it be a penetrating philosophical bent or a love of God's creatures.

Thanks for a very stimulating and thought provoking article! Slán, Erin

PS...Blogger does not like me today. I think I'm being called a spammer. If this doesn't post, I'll email you my remarks.

Savanna Kougar said...

Just adding... there's something fundamentally different about the true human spirit, about those who learn and live their soul, as opposed to those, regardless of 'class', who do not. Heroines and Heroes embody the real human spirit and the goodness that lives inside them.

KRBailey, Author said...

I agree -- I write about ordinary people. In fact my book, Murder and Lies, was about a woman who owns her own small cafe in a little town. I just finished a new story about a school teacher. I love reading how real people solve real problems without the help of power, wealth and social status. Way to go!