I’m often asked, “Why can’t you write anything from the real world? Something contemporary that people will want to read?” (Actual question, I swear)
The simple answer is: I don’t necessarily like the real world.
I mean, it’s like the reverse of a vacation to say, Branson, Missouri (no offense to Branson, of course). Ok to visit, not that great to live there. Well, in my world, the real world is Ok to live in, but if I’m going to spend $7, I’d rather visit someplace else.
In the made up places in my head, the stakes are high, the world is in danger, love lasts a lifetime, but good will always triumph. I have no such guarantees in real life. First, the stakes are never really that high in my real life. After all, no one will die if I choose the store brand over Tide with Bleach, and society won’t collapse if I just can’t fix that kid’s /r/. The choices I make are… relatively mundane.
As for the second point, while the world might be in danger, I work in preschool, so I’m thinking that I’m not going to be the one to fix it. No one’s ever heard of an overweight preschool based speech pathologist saving the world, and I’m pretty sure there’s a reason for that. I’m squishy and I’m cuddly, and little kids love me. But take down some terrorist cell, yeah, not so much. I’ll leave that to the professionals. The most badass I get is when I go to the rodeo and pretend to be some barfly named Dixie to help my friends pick up guys while drinking my one Texas Punch. Sorry gents, this hot piece of extra-large ass is taken. I know, I’m wild and crazy.
And love lasting a lifetime? I suppose it can happen. It’s gone well for me so far, but every day I’m surprised by the people in my life who are getting divorced. People I would never in a million years expect to divorce because they seemed so blissfully happy are suddenly calling it quits. These are couples that I would point to and say, “Hey, M, why can’t we be more like them?” I guess that means I’m glad M and I are the way we are, because however dysfunctional we may be (and sometimes we are), it seems to work for us. But in Meggan’s playground of pretend, my couples will be together forever, crazy in love and having magnificent sex. No taking one for the team or squeezing in a quickie between dishes and collapsing into bed exhausted. Every encounter is fabulous, and you’ll just have to believe me when I say that every encounter will continue to be fabulous forever.
Could I write a contemporary romance? Sure, I think I could (I have a couple of ideas swimming in my head). More likely, I’d do a romantic suspense, because I like the danger and the high stakes stuff. Again, I have at least one of those floating around in my head. If I ever get around to writing that book, it might be pretty good. But there are other people who are completely brilliant with the contemporary romance, and I’m not sure I’m one of them.
Creating worlds? I can do that. Supernatural powers? I can do that too. I can torture my characters to no end, and have a good time doing it. In a contemporary romance, these are supposed to be like real people with real reactions, and I think I’d actually start to feel bad for my fake people if I tortured them to the extent I do my supernaturals. My supernaturals are… well, special. They can take it. Granted, in my first historical, I guess I tortured poor Claire, so maybe I need to take that back.
So, why can’t I write contemporary? Well, for right now, because I like my worlds dark and broody, my characters a little tortured. I like to visit the dark places in my head and see what comes out. And even though in person, I’m pretty funny, other people do light and humorous contemporary way better than I do. Waaay better. Because if I tried to write a something with a little heat and a little humor right now, it would probably come out like a post WWII Germanic novella: the hero fails in some way, and while everyone starves, there’s a single loaf of bread sitting on a table in an flat in Lübeck, uneaten and growing stale. (Yeah, even I don’t know where that came from, but that Gruppe 47 literature stuff was pretty stinking depressing… but I’m sure you get my point.)