Does romance equal happiness?
I’m a sucker for a good romance. Twilight is one of my favourite books and movies like Ten Things I Hate About You never fail to make me smile. But as much as I love stories like these, they make me slightly uncomfortable. Why? Because they seem to equate romance with happiness, and I’m not sure that’s a great message, particularly for young (and new) adults.
I know that those messages really affected me when I was a teenager, and consequently, I was
'Life just isn’t what dreams are made of. At least, not my dreams. The one thing that really scares me is, what if Billy [ex-boyfriend] is the best thing I’m going to get in life? What if it's all down hill from here?'
I've actually been dreaming about him [an ex-crush] recently, but it’s not really him. I mean, it’s him physically, but personality wise, it’s someone else. I guess it’s my made-up Mr Perfect's personality – someone I unfortunately haven’t had the pleasure of meeting…
The first kernel of an idea for a novel came to me in the same year I wrote those diary entries, and the idea was in the form of a lesson I wanted to teach myself. What was the lesson? That your happiness and life journey are your own responsibility, nobody else's.
Somewhere along the line, I realised that I'd totally bought into the message that romance equals happiness and it’s impossible to be truly happy without it. I decided then that I wanted to write a book that showed this wasn't the case. That book became what we now know as The Big Smoke.
Don't get me wrong, The Big Smoke is not anti-romance, but it attempts to demonstrate that if you have issues, they'll still be there whether you’re in a relationship or not. And in fact, if you get too hung up on being in a relationship, it can actually be an obstacle to happiness.
This was the case for me as a teenager, and it's also the case for The Big Smoke's main female character, Ceara. I have a feeling it may be the case for many other girls (and maybe guys) out there who love teen fiction too.
While The Big Smoke is about a lot more than just this one idea, the issue of romance and happiness is definitely at the heart of the story. I hope that my novel might make some teenagers question whether romance does indeed equal happiness and help them to realise that their happiness is in their own hands, nobody else's.
What about you? Do you think that fiction (particularly fiction aimed at teens) equates romance with happiness? Do you enjoy a good romantic read or would you prefer something more realistic? Or perhaps something that combines the two?
More about The Big Smoke
Ceara’s desperate for love; Seb's desperate to get laid. Ceara adores reading novels; Seb hasn't finished a book in years. Two strangers, both moving from small country towns to Brisbane – the big smoke. As they prepare to attend the same university, their paths seem set to collide, but they keep missing each other. Maybe fate is keeping them apart, or maybe it's just chance.
When the semester starts, things get complicated. Ceara's best friend withdraws from her, Seb's closest mate turns into a sleazebag, and the relentless demands of university make their stress levels soar. Before their first semester is over, both Seb and Ceara will be forced to question who they are and what they want from their lives. Will they have the courage to find the answers, or will they crumble under the pressure? And when they finally meet, will it be love at first sight or a collision of headstrong personalities?
You can purchase a copy of The Big Smoke:
• in paperback format from Cally's buy page (Australia and New Zealand) or Amazon (rest of the world)
• in e-book format from Smashwords (preferred digital supplier), Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Diesel and other e-stores.
-----The Golden Eagle