When I was younger, I could barely read a book without some sort of love story involved. I would zoom through plot to get to the parts where the heroine and hero would finally reveal their love for each other, finally realize they were soul mates. The soul mate principle, as explored by many authors with various theories and ideas within the context of YA lit, was a passion. At night, I would wish to the world that I would find my truest love. My teen years were filled with the idea that some day I would find that person who would defy death for even me. I'll never forget in middle school we were reading some love story, and our teacher asked us to pen an answer to the question, "Is love worth dying for?" This was a time when Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was my newest and favorite-st movie and Bryan Adam's "Everything I do, I do it for you," made my heart fill so much I felt it would burst. Yes! I fervishly wrote my answer, love is worth dying for!
You think you'll never change, your beliefs will always be the same. That your passionate believe in something so true will last forever. Then, suddenly you're in your thirties, much wiser, and you laugh a little at your silly younger self, all the while feeling guilty for letting that idealistic, naive girl down.
When did I stop believing in the "soul mate"? While I'm not sure, it could be when I met my husband—my life mate, which I believe to be based on something much stronger. And yet, while my reading tastes have broadened through the years and my love of plot is evident in my own writing and thought processes, I still embrace the love stories—fantasy, contemporary lit, chick lit, YA—whatever the genre. I will never understand the hate-on of the "insta-love" in books, because to me it's escape, fantasy, idealized versions of love, cosmic connections, and allowing yourself to believe that the worst thing that could tear you from your soul mate is some apocalyptic war that will ultimately be stopped in the end. The belief that goodness prevails and happiness can be found. Love is love, and I'm all in.
YA love stories allows those of who are older to relive that passion, and even though many would scoff at the "insta-love" connections, instant attraction and connections happen every day—in real life. YA love stories are often truly reflective of the big emotions of youth and a breakup can seem like the world is ending, that true love has been thwarted. But trust me, it hasn't.
While I'm reflective on the wisdom that has come from age and experience, some beliefs may have shifted, yet they remain the same. I do believe in true love. I see it every day in the face of my son. I do believe in spending the rest of your life with someone. My husband and I have laughter and new adventures planned for our silver years. I do believe in dying for love, not in the jump-off-a-bridge-because-I-got-dumped, which is ridiculous and even as a teen I had better presence of mind. But I would put myself in harm's way if the people I love were in danger, as would many people. #mamabear
The truth is, I will always be a sucker for a good love story, whether it's realistic or riddled in fantasy, in life and in the pages of stories. After all, great love between lovers, family, and friends is what life is truly about. That's why reading is so magical, because for a short time we find new adventures and characters to love, ones that can help us find insights within ourselves or provide a relaxing or stimulating escape from reality.
“Where there is love there is life.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
Don't miss the Valentine's Day-themed episode of the Quirky Book Sirens, where we'll talk about what makes a good love story in literature. Feel free to chime in with any suggestions!
Even though I've been devouring books since I could read, once I became an author and really ingratiated myself into the intense online world of fandoms and book circles, there have been a number of terms I'd never heard before in relationship reading and fandom lingo. Terms that I secretly nodded my head at and pretended to know what it meant until one day a co-worker enlightened me. I don't know if this just makes me old or just plain clueless. But definitely anything acronym is going to boggle me ... I seriously hate-girl on acronyms. Nowadays, I just to turn to my friend Google to find out terms I don't know. Here's a few I've learned along the way:
Mary-Sue: In fan fiction, a Mary-Sue or, in case of a male character, Gary-Stu or Marty-Stu is an idealized character, often but not necessarily an author insert and/or wish-fulfillment. (Source: Wikipedia)
OTP: One True Pairing. Meaning a fan's favorite combination of characters in a fandom. (Source: Urban Dictionary)
Shipper or Shipping: Initially derived from the word relationship, it is the desire by fans for two people, either real-life celebrities or fictional characters, to be in a relationship, romantic or otherwise. (Source: Wikipedia)
Insta-love: When two people meet and lightening metaphorically strikes. They instantly feel an attraction to each other. Think Romeo & Juliet. (Source: Me since I couldn't find a good definition anywhere else.)
So if you're wondering what the hell a Filk is or are acronym-challenged like me, check out these links for a whole glossary of Fandom terms:
Even though I review books occasionally at Cellar Door Lit Rants & Reviews, I never really read many books reviews until last year when I released my first book. The reason I began at all was because I became obsessed with the reviews of my own book. It was through my sudden interest in reading reviews on Goodreads, blogs, and Amazon, that I found out that love triangles were on their way out and that "insta-love" as it's termed, is regarded with disdain.
Now it shouldn't surprise anyone that I love to read. Any writer should be passionate about books. I grew up devouring fantasy, science-fiction, and YA. Within these magical world, whether fantasy or literature, one of my favorite parts was the timeless romances and soul connections. So you can imagine my surprise when I found out that true love and instant connections had become passe. Perhaps they'd never been popular to begin with, although I find that hard to believe judging by the number of books that were grounded in this concept of the ultimate love story.
Perhaps it's because readers are grounded more firmly in reality nowadays, although I find that also hard to believe. If you're anything like me, getting away into a world of myth and magic is an escape from reality, and epic love is often a part of that. People snub their noses at Twilight by saying it's not good writing. Perhaps it's not complex or involved writing, but it's the kind of approachable writing that allowed millions to fall in love with, wait for it, a love story.
I get it, I'm married, so I know how real relationships work and it's not all fluff and flowers and starry soul connections. But instant connections are how people often get together in the first place. If my husband and I hadn't been instantly attracted to each other the night we met, he wouldn't have stayed when his friend left the bar we were at, I never would have asked him for his number even though I'd never asked a guy for his number in my life, and he wouldn't have called me the next day. Ultimately, our own love story never would have been written.
Love triangles have never bothered me as a reader, but I understand why other people may be sick of them. But despite really despising this term, I am defending "insta-love." Because it's not unrealistic, especially when you're writing about teenagers, who experience a passionate range of emotion. I write fantasy to imagine worlds where anything can happen, realistic or not. But connecting with someone on a physical or emotional level doesn't seem like fiction to me. That's the non-fiction woven into the magic that makes stories worth reading.
So what's the story? Why are there so many readers who dislike insta-love? I'd love to hear comments below!
K.M. Randall writes fantasy and paranormal for both a general and young adult audience. Her debut novel, an epic fantasy called Fractured Dream, launched in June 2014, and her second book, The Reaper's Daughter, launched May 2015. Randall also published Fairytale Lost, a prequel to Fractured Dream, as an exclusive on Wattpad. She blogs about dreams, female heroines, and activism and its relevancy to the literary and fictional world. And when in the season, sometimes she just likes to talk about Halloween. She is currently hard at work on the second book in the Dreamer Saga series, Shattered World.