Technology fail and an important subject

So, last time I posted I said I was off to look at furniture.  And I did.  I even found some and got it home and everything, but have a managed to take photos to share with you?  I have not.

Or, rather, I have, but then the batteries ran out on the camera and I don’t have any more, so I can’t put them onto the computer.

Oh, okay, it isn’t just that.  I mean, I could go to the shop and get some more, except that would require walking, because my car blew up the other day and what with all the furniture moving and whatnot around here lately, I am BROKEN and tired and coordinating my fingers to type is about as much as I can manage at the moment.


In the absence of pictures of furniture (which I’m SURE will be as fascinating to you as they are to me), I want to share a post I came across recently which got me thinking.

It’s about the depiction of rape and rape victims in romance stories and it’s here.

This is a subject dear to me.  I have not (yet) depicted rape victims in any stories I have written, but my girly thriller (one of my current works in progress) does include a victim of domestic abuse.  I did an enormous amount of research on the subject before even starting to write that story and it has been a constant concern to try to get the character ‘right’.  I feel a responsibility to real people in the situation to present her in a way that they will recognise.  That’s partly because I don’t want to trivialise the subject to non-victims and partly because I think one of the purposes of stories is to tell us that we are not alone and that we can overcome the demons that beset us.

G.K. Chesterton apparently once said, about children and scary stories, “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

I think the same is true of modern stories of the dragons that exist in grown-up lives.

I’m not saying that every story needs to deal with the darkness in the world.  But if they do, I think they need to do it well and realistically.

What do you think?  Do you like stories that deal with dark subjects?  Are they appropriate in romances?  I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts.

12 thoughts on “Technology fail and an important subject

  1. Life is not always rosy. For me, I appreciate facets of ‘real life’ to appear in the fantasy of a romance and character’s life. It makes for a richer, more believable story I can connect to. I appreciate the darkness.

    • I certainly don’t mind it, SA. I like a little dark with my shade. One of my favourite Anne Gracie books is A Perfect Waltz, which contains at least half a dozen victims of child abuse. Her handling of that was perfect, I thought. Dark enough to make it real, but with so much hope and love to combat it. That’s a great example of stories can be part of a healing narrative. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Wow, I found G.K. Chesterton’s quote really stirring. What a fabulous perspective.
    I’ve written about emotional abuse and lightly touched on physical abuse, but at this stage I’m not confident writing about the darker things. That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for darkness – in so many cases in fiction, darkness must be passed through to reach the light. There is certainly a place, and in my opinion, an obligation for writers to treat it with the respect and accuracy it deserves.

    • I’ve come across that Chesterton quote before, Elise, in my storytelling work. Sometimes adults think that real traditional stories are too bloodthirsty or scary for children, but I have not found it so. Stories give us a way to face the darkness and beat it in a controlled environment. It’s not only children who need to hear that courage, love and brains can beat cruelty and injustice. Marian Keyes is one of my favourite authors because she is willing and able to mine her own experience of alcoholism and depression and make stories that are both hilarious and stunningly ‘real’. Rachel’s Holiday is my favourite example – although I haven’t read Mercy Close yet – I’m saving it for when I’ve finished the next book!

  3. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird handles this issue superbly, I think. Anne Frank’s Diary is another poignant book I remember reading as a kid. I’ve always loved stories which are true to harsh reality; it’s the way life can be at times and to live in Blue Peter land doesn’t do anyone any good. It’s why I think it’s important for children to own pets as they grow up – asides from the love for the animals, and lessons in caring ,they also get to understand the notion of death. A bit bleak, perhaps, but I’m a realistic person.

    • I think you have a real point there about the animals. They teach so much – compassion, caring and yes, dealing with grief. By the same token I have no problem with stories that are just for fun – we all need them too, I think. But there is nothing like identifying with a character in trouble to make a book stay with you.

  4. Whilst I’m a sucker for a happy ending (who isn’t?) I do like it when stories accurately depict the darker side of life. I believe creating believable characters, ones whose lives are not perfect, makes for a richer and more satisfying read.

    • Thanks for stopping by Lisa! I get bored with characters whose lives are too perfect. Although it does depend on the genre, I find. I must admit I like the characters in cosy mysteries whose own lives are not too complicated but who deal with all manner of crazy in other people’s. But that’s a different kind of story. When the story is at it’s heart an emotional character journey, I like a bit of trouble for at least some of the characters.

  5. Tricky when you’re writing to strike the right tone when dealing with darker subjects. At the risk of being flippant, sometimes darker topics can have humour (okay, so not all of them, we all get that). That’s what makes it ‘black humour’ and I think it can be a counterpoint to too much unrelieved bad stuff. Especially in a romance novel.

    • Oh, yes indeed, Lou! Marian Keyes is a perfect example of that. I have wept with laughter in some of her books, even the ones dealing with very harsh subjects. But that’s true to life, too. Even the darkest times are not (usually) unrelieved. That, as you say, is the tricky part. Dealing with them doesn’t mean revelling in them. Quite the contrary in fact, as the other post I linked to made a point of saying about rape stories. That’s why I didn’t like those Underbelly TV shows. The history was a worthy subject for stories, but they seemed to me to glamourise brutality and violence and I couldn’t like them.

    • Oh yes, me too, Resa! I am all for hope. That’s why I don’t like stories that wallow in the bad things. I don’t want to celebrate them, but see them overcome. I wish I could say it was courageous. It was more that it was just the story that needed to be told. And it’s not directly about the abuse. I just didn’t feel qualified to tell that story.

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