Saturday, October 21, 2017

Can writing what hurts be romantic? - Lara Temple

I long ago decided that writing what you know isn’t the best way to begin a writing career. Sometimes writing what you know, what you feel deeply, can stifle your voice much more successfully than flights of pure fantasy. Sometimes you have to work up to it. You don’t approach a scared animal by gallumphing up to it, hand outstretched. Often you have to sit nearby, back turned for quite a while before you can even consider getting close, let alone making contact. But what we know is always there.

Even writing Regency romances (how much more flight of fancy can one get short of adding magic?) I never stray that far from what I am, good and bad. In fact, by writing what some would consider light hearted romance stories, I find I am connecting more deeply with issues that matter to me than when I tried to write them as they are. I don’t even mean to put them in there – it isn’t a conscious agenda (I’m a thorough pantser, I’m afraid), I just suddenly find them there, whole and working away and that is that.

In my latest book Lord Hunter’s Cinderella Heiress I touch upon issues that affected people I care and cared for very deeply – suicide and survivor’s guilt, PTSD, and bullying. They don’t take over the story but they are there and from some of the reviews coming I am relieved to hear they have enriched the characters and the romance. In the book Hunter’s younger brother, a sensitive boy who joins the army to prove himself, is captured and maimed and never succeeds in recovering either physically or mentally. Despite Hunter’s efforts he commits suicide, locking Hunter into guilt and remorse and inadvertently connecting Hunter’s life with that of Nell who is trying to escape a bullying aunt and indifferent father. Nell finds her personal redemption by giving love, to horses and to the schoolchildren she teaches. Hunter finds his in helping war veterans avoid the path his brother took and in otherwise indulge in a care for nobody rakish lifestyle.

I was once told that ‘whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ I don’t believe in that. I think we could probably do without a great many of the knocks life deals us. But I do believe that dealing with those knocks, and in particular knowing how to seek help and depending on others to see us, support us, and even to know when to ask them to stand back, does make us stronger. That is why I love writing about people going on these difficult journeys and helping each other find that strength (and their HEA, of course).

So, writing about what hurts you can indeed be very romantic because if love can grow on such rocky ground, it is love truly worth nurturing. 

Excerpt from Wild Lords book #1: Lord Hunter’s Cinderella Bride (November 2017)

Hunter’s grin widened.
‘Very amusing, Saxon. Now come down before I decide to put all this hay to good use.’
She really should get down but she didn’t want to, not yet. As she remained unmoving the raffish quality of his grin shifted, mellowed, his lashes dipping slightly.
‘You do look like a Saxon queen up there; about to bestow her favour on her knight.’ He observed and Nell planted her feet more firmly as the bale quivered beneath them, or maybe that was just her legs that had wobbled. She was used to looking down at men, but very contrarily looking down at him made her feel dainty. Dainty?
‘She would probably be a Norman queen if there were knights,’ the schoolmistress corrected, and then, more to the point and in a less resolute voice. ‘I don’t have anything to bestow.’
‘Yes you do.’

How could three words turn a quiver into a blaze? He might as well have touched a match to the hay the heat was so intense. And the sense of danger. He was making love to her in the middle of a stable yard without raising a finger and she didn’t want it to stop. This is not making love, just flirting, the schoolmistress pointed out and was kicked off the bale of hay. 


dstoutholcomb said...

I think it can give strength to the characters and show the way they handle adversity, and that can be endearing and attractive.


LaraTemple said...

I completely agree. We discover who people really are when they are faced with adversity and their own demons. I love putting my heroes and heroines through real life challenges and watching them help each other. If they can do it and still laugh together, all is well...