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Friday, January 25, 2008

Are We Too Old For Fantasy? - Trish Wylie


I don't think there should be an age where we leave fantasy behind. But maybe that's just me?

In the USA and Australia romance may not be considered the loftiest of literary endeavors but it never seems to take quite the bashing it does in the UK. And since this is the year when Mills & Boon (Harlequin's UK division) celebrates it Centenery, a lot of us authors are coming under the spotlight and taking tentative steps into the media. Now this can be a nerve wracking enough experience on it's own. I personally feel I have a fabulous face for RADIO. But in the UK the prejudice is such that we really need to think about donning protective armour and carrying a light sabre. 'Cos frankly - they're out to get us!!!

How DARE WE as modern thinking independent women even THINK of reading this kind of thing let alone write it??! Do women really still search for Mister Right someone asked in a recent interview I did on the Radio (where I looked gorgeous I should add...) At this point I felt like saying...erm... YES. It's FINDING HIM that's the problem.

But why should we have to give up the fantasy and escapism we find in the pages of a romance novel? In fact if anything with all the roles we take on every day in the modern age aren't we MORE entitled to a little escapism?! And correct me if I'm wrong here - but didn't women fight the good fight for decades to allow us the freedom to CHOOSE? I mean, I know I live in a writing cave most of the year but I really did think we'd got to vote and everything...


Maybe part of the problem is the fact that the Mills & Boon brand is 100 years old. The critics can look back to the days when stories told of timid little waifs being swept off their feet by rich tyrants who could force them to do things they didn't want to, bullying them all the way to a supposed Happily Ever After... But I ask you - when was the last time you read one of those??? Now a little sweeping off your feet - bring it on I say! A devastatingly good looking man - WHERE??? Oh sorry - distracted for a moment there... A little waif of a heroine who needs rescuing in order to be able to make it through the day without starving to death, being able to decide what to wear on her own and relying on a man to COMPLETE HER. Gimme the shotgun - I'll do it. So do I write/read books that make me a lesser modern day woman in some way? Well I didn't think I did. But thanks for the paranoia critics - anyone who works in any kind of a creative medium just LOVES it when you heap that on - it makes our day. And as for attempting to make me feel guilty - thanks for that too - cos obviously we women need HELP with GUILT, don't we?

It does kinda raise the question though of whether or not there's an age limit on a little escapist fantasy. This is the point at which I get to admit to several sins... Just let me take a deep breath and lie down on the sofa for a minute...

Okay. I like chocolate, red wine, desserts, carbs, a romantic comedy on DVD or at the movies , happily ever afters, I cry at the Andrex puppy at least one week out of every four, I'm a dreadful cook, I don't dress in pink feathers or anything pink when writing, I love bubble baths, I'm a candle-a-holic, I have never burned my bra cos I'm at an age where gravity scares me and I-READ-ROMANCE. I did before I ever decided to have a go at writing one. I DON'T THINK I'M TOO OLD TO STOP DREAMING and I still believe in fairies. (they steal my car keys at least once a day...)

Now after all those confessions I'm sure there's a charter jet somewhere rapidly filling up with feminists, dieticians, shrinks and plastic surgeons all ready to show me the error of my ways - by force if necessary. But I don't think there's a cut off point where we're supposed to allow the daily drudgery and pressures of real life to be the entire reason for our existance. We all know that marriages struggle and many fail, we all know the pressures on teenagers worldwide, the problems of paying bills, the rise in sexually transmitted diseases, the angst we feel every January when we realize just how much weight we put on the year before when the media says we should all be a size ZERO (which frankly means not existing at all in mind cos zero = nothing, right??) - and all that is but a drop in the ocean in angstville...

So why can't we have a little fantasy to lighten our day? Huh???

So I guess after that long, somewhat soul cleansing rant what I'm asking is; what age is the cut-off point for these things? Do you have an age you know to tell little kids not to believe in Santa or the tooth fairy or wizards or princesses? Do you sit them down at eight and say - 'look, it's time we got REAL...' Do we tell them in the gothic phase of their teenage years - 'yeah, you're right - the world IS doomed...' Do we tell them in the first flush of young love - 'That's nice and all but here's what pain and anguish and suffering is headed your way... just marry for money honey...'

If we do I'm not sure I want to live in that world.

I want that smile you get when the heroine sees the hero for the first time and thinks YUM. I want the back and forth and the sexual tension and the conflicts to be resolved and the last page that leaves me filled with hope for their future. I want to believe. I want to dream. And I want my FANTASY goshdarnit!!! Just try and wrestle it out of my hands!!! I'LL-TAKE-YOU-ON.
So are you too old for fantasy? Do you have a favourite fantasy theme in a romance novel you'd like to share with some like minded friends? You're in good company here if it makes you feel any better...

And if it helps any I'll even throw a copy of my latest Modern Heat book His Mistress: His Terms at one lucky commentor - it's a delicious romp of a fantasy straight from my chocolate and candle-a-holic fed imagination. With a hero to dream about and a heroine to give him a run for his money. It has modern day dilemmas mixed in with a slice of pure escapism. And no-one BUT NO-ONE has the need to have some man sweep in and save them from a life of drudgery or rape her along the way to make her fall in love with him - SO THERE to the critics!
(I'll pick a winner in a week)

As for me. For as long as the books continue to sell EVERY FIVE SECONDS in the UK... I'll continue to love being a part of the BILLIONS of women who AREN'T TOO OLD for a little fantasy. But like I said - maybe that's just me...

To find out more about Trish and her books you can visit her Website or her Blog.

32 comments:

Lois said...

Nah, no one's ever too old for it. . . . now, collecting rubber duckies, maybe, but at age 31, sure doesn't stop me! LOL :)

Lois

robynl said...

I say 'no'; one can keep believing that life is good and there is always a HEA.
I also am a candle-a-holic, journal-a-holic, etc. etc. I collect bears, porcelain dolls, etc.
I think any age can fantasize about things.

Trish said...

LOL to the rubber duckies Lois. Am making no comment whatsoever on the varying small animal shaped objects dotting surfaces around my home... or the number of DVD's I have that are technically cartoons ;)

Yes Robyn we sooooooo have to believe in HEA don't we??? I think it's that optimism that keeps us all going. I've FORCED MYSELF to be a glass half full gal. Mind you - there are days I can't FIND the flipping glass...

Eva S said...

I'll never be too old for fantasy! I love all kind of romance and fantasy, books or DVD, I collect fairies and dragons and I'm just waiting to get grandchildren so I can tell them what a wonderful place this world is!

Pat Cochran said...

I say "AMEN" and I agree with all
that romance never dies, nor does
reading about it!! At age 71 and
married to the same man for forty-
seven years, I can attest to the
fact that love and romance are so
very alive and doing well in this
world!!

Pat Cochran

Nathalie said...

I think you can never be to old to dream... OK, maybe at 70, you are less optimistic!

Lily said...

Dreaming is great!
I think it takes a lot of courage to be a romance author... with all the bad stigma aroung!

Estella said...

Your're never too old to read romance! I cannot imagine not being able to curl up with a good romance book.

Jane said...

I don't think you can be too old for fantasies. I'm a sucker for Cinderella type stories.

Virginia said...

I say you are never to old for fantasy. Let a child believe in Santa as long as posible. We can still have fantasies as long as we live. It never hurts to dream. Even if that fantasy is going to Scotland and falling in love with a beautiful Highlander, so be it.

Ellen said...

One is never to old to read romance and dream. I'm 62 and don't have a husband but I still believe in love and HEA. My parents were married 50 years and in love the whole time. I am a frog collector and don't think I'm to old for that either. And let children believe in fairies, leprechauns and santa as long as they want.

Amy said...

Never too old for fantasy. I think it's only natural that women dream and escape and hope....I don't understand what's wrong with longing for fulfillment in a romantic relationship...

Cryna said...

I think you are never to old to escape into fantasy world when reading. I collect stuffed animals of all sizes and shapes, and think that you should let the kids believe in Santa, tooth fairy, etc. as long as they want to. I know I let my kids believe. At 60 I think I can do all these things. And I love Cinderella type movies.

Natasha said...

Tis true though, Trish, the UK is a hard place to be a romance author in. And yet the sales of romantic fiction are absolutely massive. We can't be alone in our day dreams. :)

Back to my sheikh. Wonderful sex and not the slightest trouble with sand!!!

Olivia said...

Trish
There's nothing called 'too old' period.
I think such definitions and imposed limitations are preposterous. We are ourselves and that's that. We can do what we please when we please, and we can certainly 'feel' what makes us happy without taking permission or approval from anyone. And as long as we're pleasing ourselves and not harming others, who dares have an opinion?

Great post, Trish, as usual! :-D

Olivia

http://www.oliviagates.com

Diane said...

not believe in Fantasy? The world would be a very dreary place without HEA. Fantasy? why do so many people buy lottery tickets? Yes Virgina, there IS a Santa Claus!

Michelle said...

Way to go, Trish!

Why, why, why do people believe that tragic, unhappy stories are more realistic? Surely, given the law of averages, we can expect a happy outcome at least 50% of the time can't we?

But I"m probably biased - I write romance, I read romance, I'm celebrating my 10th wedding anniversary to a man who brings me a cup of tea in bed EVERY morning. I'm obviously a sad loser:)

Michelle Douglas

Kate Walker said...

That one earned you a standing ovation here in Lincolnshire my darling.

I'll give you the hug when I see you next month

Kate

Carol Townend said...

We should never tire of dreaming, because when we do, we would be tired of life. And how sad would that be?! Great post!
Best wishes
Carol

Jennifer Lewis said...

Well said! I certainly don't ever intend to stop escaping to the world of fantasy. It's the cheapest vacation there is :-)

So it's the fairies that take the car keys. That explains a lot...

Jen
Black Sheep Billionaire, Jan 2008
http://www.jenlewis.com

Sandie Hudson said...

What? Who said there's no Santa or fairies? Why wasn't I told this before now?

We all have a need to be able to escape into out own world of fantasy at some time or other. Whether we write it or read it, we love it, to be able to tune ourselves out from the world around us, even for just a little while is every woman's right. We deserve to have our fantasy.

Are you telling me that men don't read their chose in novels to escape into their own fantasy world. Of course they do, they like to think of themselves as the next James Bond. Women falling over themselves to get thier hands on them. Well maybe not all men, but some do.

Don't get me started on the womans lib thingy.

Oh crap!!! I'm getting off my soap box. Boy I ramble sometimes, sorry :-) I'll err, go now.

Hugs
Sandie

Jenna Bayley-Burke said...

Why should we stop dreaming, ever?

Besides, isn't wanting the best for yourself what the whole The Secret revolution is all about? Aim high, girls! Guys will raise their game, but only if we stop settling for less.

Anne McAllister said...

Great post, Trish. No, of course I'm not too old for fantasy. And I like to think that it keeps me young -- and hopeful. I think, without fantasy, there is the danger of just seeing things 'the way they are' and not the way they could be.

And I love thinking about that -- and trying to make it happen in my life and in my books. And I love reading other peoples' books for the same reason -- as long as there is a message of hope somewhere in the book.

The ones I don't like are the 'everything is going to hell. We're all predestined to fail. There is no point' books. Those I throw across the room!

Trish said...

WOW LOOK! I'm most definitely not alone am I?

I think one of the comments that riled me most this last while was a so called *expert* who claimed the books were "a literature of unhappiness rather than happiness" which is the biggest load of nonsense I've ever heard! Of course they're not. If anything they promote hope and optimism and the belief that odds can be overcome...

And if we gals can't keep a few stars in our eyes then how can we as *nurturers* pass on that 'glass half full' ethos to the generations that come behind us??? Without hope and dreams and fantasys would we have so many of the things we have these days???

So really if anything the world should thank us for being dreamers and *hopeful* romantics (you'll note I don't use the term hopeless there...). And like Anne McAllister I'm not a fan of tales of woe - we get enough of that in LIFE. In my reading I want a little more optimism ;)

THANKS FOR COMING OUT TO PLAY GANG! The more the merrier...

Maureen said...

I don't care what anyone says, I love reading my romance novels. It is great to sit down for a little while during the day and enjoy some time in a world where there is always a happy ending. It's a shame that people have nothing better to do than belittle an industry that provides some real entertainment to people.

deseng said...

I will always believe in a happily ever after! I am an optimistic person so I look on the bright side of things. A funny, romantic book is my cup of tea! I just love a romance that makes me laugh! Oh, and to dream...ah...yes! To be on a tropical island with a dashing man, oooo...that's what dreams are made of!

Michele L.

Madeline said...

Trish, You're never too old for Fantasy. Love, HEA,Handsome Fantasy men, are what keeps us women believing that there is hope for us all.
Little old ladies still look at good looking young men, and dream of what used to be. Fantasy keeps us young, if only in spirit.
Fantasy lives in the heart of everyone who still believe in love.

Emma said...

Never too old for fantasy.Never to old to read romance and dream.I cannot imagine not being able to read a good romance book.

anne said...

It is important to have dreams and these fantasties keep us young, hopeful and positive. What a world it would be without these wonderful romance books to captivate our senses and enthrall us.

ruth said...

I love escaping from my everyday mundane world to one that is filled with adventure, fun, love and pleasures. Why not? We need it to put up with our problems and ordinary lives. Books are my biggest indulgence since they have held so much importance all my life. I can rely on them to lift my spirits.

Cherie J said...

I think we all need some fantasy to keep us young. I think if I every lost that then life would truly be a drudgery for me.

Trish said...

Thanks so much to everyone who joined in the discussion here! You're all wonderful ;)

And the winner of the book is... drumroll please...

SANDIE!!!

So if you can email me with your address through my website at http://www.trishwylie.com I shall pop it in the post for you!

And I'm back here on the 7th gang when I'll have a copy of my February romance title Her One And Only Valentine up for grabs....