I’ve listened to the same Snow Patrol song for days. I tend to obsess on songs when I’m deep into figuring a story out and this one is no exception. Music sets the mood and the emotion for me when I’m writing or thinking about a book. And stars above, there is so much emotion in this song.
Also? I love this book. I realize that as a “professional” I’m supposed to be objective and detached, but that never seems to work for me. I have a bad bad case of book love going.
I’ve mentally upgraded A War For Philadelphia from a kissing book to a full grown, adult love story. Which, you as you know, Bob, it was surely meant to be all along. I’m okay with that.
Riding along with the love story in this book is a tale of having your life torn into pieces, of losing everything and everyone you ever loved, of trying to hold back the tide of war with your wits and bare hands, of counting survival as a victory, and not giving up–ever.
Yeah, I’ve got a theme going here. Love is the plan and the plan is making it out alive.
Easy peasy to tell that story and not screw it up, right? Right…
All many people will see is the love story. They will roll their eyes and complain that I got emotion and relationships in their fantasy, and in the process ruined what might have been–in another universe, and likely written by a man–a pretty cool book.
The rest of that stuff I listed up there, the loss and the struggle to survive? None of that will count. A romantic relationship, even between equal partners, negates all of that.
Sex is okay, the quickie and one night stand. But loving someone–commitment–equals weakness in a woman character, and weakness is the kiss of cliched death.
The mantra goes that strong women don’t need anyone, ever. They stride off into the sunset in high heels and leather pants, sword slung over a shoulder, and live–in all senses of the word–to fight another day. They certainly don’t go home to their husbands or to cuddle their children.
This idea is, IMHO, utter bullshit. The whole woman as lone wolf trope is toxic and a lie. We all want someone to come home to.
But I digress. Sorta. It’s all related.
This is the message I keep picking up, well, everywhere. Blog posts, tumbler posts, columns and book blogs, articles–everywhere. Strong women are alone, weak women are involved, and involvement equals dependance.
I’ve thought about this a whole lot in the last three or four months. I have a book out there now and keeping up with all parts of the industry is important, so I’ve read a lot more blogs and articles than I ever have in the past. It’s been kind of amazing and scary.
There is a strong undercurrent of betrayal in a lot of the discussions and comments I’ve read, and the sense that women SFF writers who include any kind of romantic relationships in their novels have violated some sacred trust with other women. We’re supposed to be above all that nonsense. Better than that.
Which would make women SFF writers–what? The answer that instantly pops to mind is “men”, but that can’t be right and isn’t close to fair. I’m still looking for an answer to that question, but each time I think about it I hear Joanna Russ turn over in her grave.
For a whole lot of years I fought my strengths as a writer. How violently I fought against them kind of amazes me now. I wanted to be part of the club, a member of a tribe that didn’t want the kind of stories I have to tell. They still don’t want me, but I’m okay with that now.
I’m not fighting those writing strengths any longer. Anyone who picks up one of my books and expresses shock, or dismay, over a love story isn’t paying attention. I’ve always been a hopeless romantic and believed in soul mates; even if soul mates don’t always end up together.
There are people in the world who love my book, quietly and deeply, and who want to read the stories I have to tell. On some level, I’m pretty sure all of them are romantics too. I cherish every reader who finishes a book, smiles, and remembers how the story made them feel.
Not the ideas or the tech, or the physics of the magic system, nor the science of making an airship. How they feel.