Sunday, May 04, 2008

Star Crossed Lovers?

Yes, we all know that theme. Lovers whose relationship is doomed to fail. Why star crossed? Because those who came up with the term believe that the stars control human destiny.
And yes, the most famous example of this theme is Romeo and Juliet.

The tale of the star crossed lovers has been done and redone - and redone - and redone. And when this topic came up for discussion I had to ask myself why it is such a popular theme. What pleasure do we get from the tale of people who love so passionately yet are doomed to be kept apart?

Personally, I don't enjoy it. Color me a "non-tragedy" fan, and I think this theme is by and large a tragedy. I don't mind endings that have me wondering IF the couple will get together, work things out, or find each other again across the vastness of time and space. But doomed? That leaves me cold. The Universe is a place of endless possibility and I like to think that anything is possible.
Perhaps that's why I write Romantica (R). (For those of you not familiar with the term, it is a trademarked word belonging to Ellora's Cave that describes the fiction they publish - Romance with a bit of erotica, or as someone once so aptly described it, Romance that leaves the bedroom door open). Here's a genre that not only tugs the heart strings with romance that we women crave, but also panders to the more sexual aspect of our natures and lets us see behind that bedroom door.
Which brings me to a bit of a rant. What is so intolerable, so abhorrent, so sinful about what happens in the bedroom? ( or on the kitchen table as the case may be) Would any of us be here without sex? It's a biological imperative - all species procreate. People just engage in sex for pleasure and not strictly to propagate the species.
What makes us as a culture (in America) so willing to expose ourselves and our children to horrible scenes of violence and yet scared out of our knickers when it comes to sex? What makes a work of art by one of the great masters like Michelangelo that shows nudes acceptable and a photo of a woman with bare breasts unacceptable? It boggles my mind.
And makes me wonder if the real "star crossed lovers" isn't something larger than two people who are trying to overcome enormous hurdles to share their love. Maybe we in the world of Romantica are fighting that same battle. To overcome narrow minds that focus only on the erotic and forget that Romance comes first in that word. That the books are tales that employ the same themes as any other. Quest. Adventure. Pursuit. Rescue. Escape. Revenge. The Riddle. Rivalry. Underdog. Temptation. Metamorphosis. Transformation. Maturation. Love. Forbidden Love. Sacrifice. Discovery. Wretched Excess. Ascension. Descension. And that at their hearts they are romantic tales.
Romantica does not forsake the themes that have inspired our imaginations, fed our hearts, brought us laughter, longing or tears. It simply fills in the blanks of what happens after that alpha male takes the woman into his arms.
This is not to say that this genre is for everyone. It's genre fiction. Some people like it and others don't. Science fiction is a genre and I adore it, but I certainly don't think every reader has to dig it as much as I do. The same holds true for Romantica. It has it's place in the world of fiction and it's time for people to start acting like adults - adults who accept and even appreciate one another for their diversity and embrace the arts in all their forms as a creative expression.
Let's not allow this genre be the doomed star crossed lovers of fiction. It has too much to offer.
Rant over. I'm off to write :)


Sally Painter said...

I like star-crossed lovers with HEA endings in romance.

I feel it makes for the heightening of emotion and conflict. Takes the reader on a real roller coaster ride.Probably why it's used so much.

I use it in my books. It brings hope, disillusion, tears, laughter, all the emotions I'm striving to convey and let the reader feel. Granted the star-crossed aspect is more situational than cosmic in my books. The two lovers find they must fight to even have their love. Dreamy sigh.

For me, it's the sexiest of all sexies for the hero to be fighting the world and all circumstances to claim his love. Sigh... Call me the biggest romantic ever.

As for the sex phobia, perhaps it's the old purtian carryover that still resides in the sub-conscious of some people.

Frankly, I don't understand judgmental mentality much less the kind that condemns everything not in alignment with an individual's belief system.

I'm a "live and let live kinda hussy". As long as no one is being harmed, then what's the big deal?

For Pete's sake, it's only sex. No one is being forced to read a certain kind of fiction and what a dull boring world it would be if we all thought alike. Ewww!

NathalieGray said...

Where are the cloning machines when you need them? We're in need of cloning you two hussies.

I enjoy reading about stories where the odds are stacked three high and ten deep against the protagonists. But if the author throws in a God Clause, that every time the couple gets together something bad *has* to happen just because it can...then I'm not a happy reader. As if the author is playing at god in his/her universe, trying to find every little hole into which s/he will force his characters to step. And forced is the right word here. It sounds, looks and feels forced because that's what it is. So star crossed isn't for me. As an aside, I didn't even know what the term meant and had to go look it up online.

Star crossed is as groan-worthy (to me) as the "fated mate" plots.


And whoa on the "sex is le big devil" issue. I guess some people just can't respect or even understand a different POV. They think erotic romance is bad. Oh well, I'll live.

Nicole Austin said...

Like Nat, I'm all for lots of challenges and obstacles but to be doomed is just...tragic.

One of the great things about Romantic which makes it erotic fiction and not porn is that if you were to cut out the sex scenes you'd still have a great plot with twists and turns, as well as compelling characters. Instead of building the tension and heat then slamming the door in the readers face when the good part happens, we let the reader in on the whole relationship.

Let's face it, sex is a big part of relationships. We don't add it to our books just for the sake of having sex. That wouldn't work at all. If an author is going to explore every other part of a couples interactions, why leave out the best part? Sex is fun, feels good, and brings people closer, not just physically but also emotionally.

Rachel.C said...

Standing and applauding!
I'm getting real tired of the you write porn thingy. It's getting to be a joke. Personally I'm not religious, I find the whole thing of doing what the book saids very mindless. I'm all for respecting others and their beliefs which is why I don't go round telling people that are religious that I think a lot of them act like sheep. And yet some people think they can tell me what to read and write. Here's what I have to say to them, 'Here's some wood, build a bridge and get over it!' Actually hand me that wood and I'll slap 'em in the head with it, it's probably the only way to get through to them.
Sorry, ranting, I hate this topic. I think the best thing going for us as humans (although that's debatable for some) is that we are such a diverse breed. Different looks, tastes, ideas....
Variety is the spice of life and the thought of everyone conforming to one mold is just.... well it's horrid!

Rachel.C said...

Oh, and I hate the star crossed lover theme. The worlds full of enough bad sh**! I want my HEA!

N.J.Walters said...

Very elogquent.

I'm all about the HEA. If there are star-crossed lovers involved, I want a happy ending or I'm not a happy camper. :-)

TarotByArwen said...

"I write the porn you read under the covers."

I so want that on a t-shirt.