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Thursday, December 1, 2016

THE LITERATURE OF HOPE BY KATE McMURRAY




Let’s get this out of the way: a lot of us were upset by the outcome of the presidential election. I certainly was. Without getting into the politics of it too much, I woke up on November 9 feeling disappointed and sad and afraid of what the future holds.

Even if that was not your experience, a lot of us have faced hardships this year. We’re human and life happens sometimes. A death in the family. A big move. Losing a job. Divorce.

I don’t say this to bum you out, but more because we all go through rough times. And romance novels have helped a lot of people through some dark times.

The night after the election, I went to a book talk at a bookstore in Brooklyn. When I walked into the store, everyone there looked like they were headed to a funeral. The talk moderator began the discussion by acknowledging the pain a lot of us felt, but then said, “Now we’ll talk about romance novels.”

The discussion was positive, about things the authors on the panel love, about books, about hope. Romance is, after all, a genre that a lot of people enjoy because the happy ending is guaranteed. Even when books get dark, when you can’t imagine how the protagonists will ever end up together, you still know in the back of your mind that everything will work out.

And, you know, after that talk, I felt better. I felt hopeful. I felt like everything might be okay.

I’ve seen this expressed elsewhere, too. A number of our chapter members participated in NaNoWriMo this November, and in the little Facebook group we’ve been using to keep up with each other, a few authors said they were glad they had their novels to focus on, because channeling their energy into a story with a happy ending was therapeutic.

We read to escape. We read to cope. We read romance because the books are stories of love and hope, where good triumphs over evil, where people overcome tremendous obstacles to live happily ever after.

There’s something really powerful about that.

I’ve read and written to get through my own hard times in the past. I’ve written stories to cope with everything from my ex getting married to a relative dying of cancer. I moved this summer, and when my anxiety was at its highest, I read category romance novels, because they were sweet little reminders that things would work out. Even now, I’ve been binging on historical romances to divert my attention from the news, and each one has kept me entertained from the first page to my happy sigh after reading the last.
That’s the real beauty of the genre. That’s why we love it, right? Romance novels are there for you when times are good, certainly, and I’m happy to talk about them with writers and readers anytime, be the times joyful or difficult. But books like these are really vital when times are hard.

So keep writing those books. Keep reading. Keep talking. Because the world can always use more hope, and that’s what we offer.♥

Kate McMurrayis an award-winning author of gay romance and an unabashed romance fan. When she’s not writing, she works as a nonfiction editor, dabbles in various crafts, and is maybe a tiny bit obsessed with baseball. She has served as President of Rainbow Romance Writers, the LGBT romance chapter of Romance Writers of America; and as Vice President of RWA/NYC. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. Visit her at www.katemcmurray.com


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