Friday, December 5, 2014

If life were a romance novel…


By Victoria Curran, senior editor

As I was leaving for my cousin’s funeral yesterday afternoon, my boss asked me if John had been married and if he had any children. I started to reply that none of my aunt and uncle’s three boys, now each deceased—before their parents (unbelievable, isn’t it?)—had reached an age or stage of life to marry. But then I realized John was 42; lots of people are settled down with families at that age. I’ve been thinking about that ever since. I hope you don’t find me morbid, but I can’t help reimagining how life might have turned out for my cousin if he’d been the hero of his own romance. Do writers’ minds go through this kind of reimagining all the time?

At the visitation before the service, I listened to friends and work buddies of my techie/roadie cousin celebrate and also lament the fact that John loved to party and didn’t take enough care of his health…which surely must’ve contributed to his heart attack. I remember the kid who was eight years younger than me and how he was a bit ADD in his energy and always had a mischievous twinkle in his eye and a terrific sense of humor, like his mom. Was it simply his love of life and fun that made him a partier? Was it his career, which involved being on the road and different gigs and late hours? Or could the loss of his two older brothers when he was still quite young have somehow contributed to his carefree single lifestyle? I’ll never know the subtext to his fun-loving, and that’s okay.

But if he was a romantic lead and I was choosing his story? I’d give his carefree bachelor lifestyle the deeper emotional context of his having a need to protect the wound of having survived when the older brothers he’d always looked up to did not. And I’ve been trying to figure out what kind of heroine would be able to make this hero face his vulnerability and see that life is more than a big party? 

I wouldn’t pull a Breaking Bad, which paired a recovering drug addict with a girlfriend who enjoys heroin—too risky. And maybe it’s too predictable to pair my hero with the bartender at his favourite watering hole. (And way too predictable if that bartender is also coincidentally studying to be a psychologist at nights! No convenient savior heroines to make light of the difficult journey my hero has to go through.)

Maybe the heroine is a client at one of my hero’s tech gigs, who takes life far more seriously than him and disapproves of his seemingly casual attitude. Or maybe the heroine is a woman back at the family home up north on the river in cottage country, where my hero escapes on occasion back to a place where life had been simpler and happier, and he can satisfy his love of nature. But how can they be together when my hero’s job means he has to go back to the city—to various cities—to earn a decent living. Not to mention, how can he give up the person he thinks he is—the gay vivant—and set aside all his partier friends and nights on the town, to settle down with a woman who probably doesn’t get more than one channel on her television set and who probably spends her Friday night with her neighbours at a quilting bee (I LOVE quilting bees)?

I haven’t figured out the ideal heroine for my hero yet. But I’m leaning toward the country girl, even if I have no idea how she can be making a living herself! (Up in Muskoka, which is the reality behind the story, it’s rare to find young single women surviving on their own. It’s more of a retirement community…unless you own a local bakery or antique shop, I suppose…hm.)

If any of you have a wonderful idea for a heroine who’s up to the job of showing my hero the light, I’d love to hear who she is! I think my cousin would approve of our match-making.

Best wishes for the holiday season,

Victoria

27 comments:

  1. She's a serious minded single mother, still mourning the loss of her husband. She own a diner in the center of his territory. When they meet, he makes it a point to have his base in the same town as her diner and does his traveling from there, always returning to the one place of safety and acceptance each night.

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    1. Oh, that tears me up, Shirley. I know this diner! Must run get a tissue now...

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  2. What a sweet way to remember your cousin.

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    1. I have to ask if this is something the writers on this loop go through: taking real people and real incidents in their lives and asking what if? I would never have gone here if my boss hadn't asked if he was married and suddenly it struck me that he never was and why was that and what if?

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  3. Victoria, so sorry for you loss and his family's multiple losses at early ages. I vote for the grounded heroine, but a nurturer who loves him just as he is, and is "home" the site, like Shirley said, he'll revolve around.

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    1. Yes--just as he is. Let him come to terms with the why behind who he is on his own. I like it!

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  4. Sorry for your loss. At a sad time, I think it's wonderful that you would think of what your cousin's life would have been like as a hero in a book, matched with the perfect heroine. A happy way to get through a difficult time.

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    1. Thanks, Tara. I absolutely know he'd get a kick out of finding him the perfect heroine!

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  5. Losing loved ones at this time year is especially hard. So sorry you and your family are going through this. But the idea of finding his heroine...what a lovely way to keep his memory alive. A country girl sounds lovely, someone who can show him the beauty in quiet and appreciate the more sedate side of life...someone to curl up with in front of the fire with a couple of good books and a softy, fluffy blanket. Yeah. I think that would be perfect.

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    1. Sure, Anna, but it can't be as easy as all that! He's got a lot to go through before he can earn that spot in front of the fire...

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  6. Condolences and all, but I immediately went to the image of the movie Guys and Dolls, where a rake tries to bring down the good "sister" of the church for a bet. Made me smile, because they reformed each other, didn't they? And, of course, there was music.

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    1. It would have to be the Church of England, though, rather than Baptist or...hm...I can't remember which church was in Guys and Dolls. Anglican would be the local!

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  7. Funny Melinda should say that, because - if we're not plotting a Heartwarming - I'd make the heroine a former nun. My sister was - had been in for 20 years, then a lot changed and she came out. She was hilarious, strong-minded, but let everyone be who they were and somehow peace surrounded her. Maybe she could become the writer she always wanted to be - writers can write anywhere. She'd be a rock he could lean on and someone to sit with under Anna's fluffy blanket. Sorry for your loss, Victoria. It's hard to lose the people who populated our childhood - especially the young ones.

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    1. Sorry, Muriel, I don't think there's a local Catholic church up there... So in your story, we'd have to have them meet in the big city of Toronto. (Thanks, Muriel!)

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  8. There are some great ideas offered above for the heroine. I will just say that your post is an unusual but touching tribute to your cousin. It brought him to life for me.

    My deepest condolences to you and your family, Victoria.

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  9. So, sorry for your loss. I have a brother who is 50 and not married, and I keep thinking "Oh, he's still young." He's a devil may care kind of fellow too. I wonder what kind of hero he'd need. Certainly someone who'd keep him busy (the diner) but who would always let him know he's appreciated and vital to the atmosphere and upkeep.

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    1. Okay, wait, is your 50 year old single brother looking for a hero or a heroine? And if he's looking for a heroine, possibly he's looking for a big city Canadian editor of romance fiction. The obstacle might be the long-distance relationship, but hey, she's willing to give it a try! Oops, though, if the obstacle is he hates cats, then I simply cannot see this story getting off the ground....

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    2. LOL, he's looking for a heroine. He loves cats and has one. LOL. His biggest obstacle is he truly likes being alone. Can you say "Set in his Ways." He just left this morning to go back to Nebraska. He's in love with my cat BTW because I have the only cat he knows that knocks on doors. Yup, my cat stands on his hind legs and knocks until you let him into any room he wants to go in.

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  10. Big hug and sorry for your loss. I'll try to come up with a heroine once I stop crying:) xo

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    1. Thanks, Jen. Sorry I've brought down the post-Thanksgiving holiday mood...

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  11. Another hug and another sorry for your loss, and for your aunt and uncle--I can't imagine their suffering.

    I like the country girl heroine, too, and I would read this story in a heartbeat.

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    1. Well, since I'm not actually a writer, who's going to do the honours???

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    2. Is this where we stick our hands in the air and shout, "Me! Me! Choose me!"

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  12. Victoria, so sorry for your loss and for your entire family. What a wonderful way to remember your cousin. And I kind of like Melinda's idea of two people who "reform" each other. Maybe learn to live that carefree life together, but with somewhat different priorities...

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  13. So sorry your cousin died at such an early age. I'd have to really work at finding him a heroine that would fit with his life style.

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  14. So sorry for your loss, Victoria, and my sympathy goes out to his parents as well. I love this post in his honor and I think Shirley's idea would make a beautiful (and page turning ) story. I do think about what if's with those around me...which unfortunately (or fortunately, I guess, writer-wise) leads to a lot of daydreaming...

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