Friday, October 13, 2006

The role of the writer's subconscious...

Jay Dixon talks about her own attempt to write a romance novel (she was later an editor but never a successful fiction author). She said: Emotionally drained myself (had been through a tough divorce) I could not summon up the energy to write “from my own experiences” (my words).

She goes on to say that “these books (romances) are an exploration of what life would be like if… if I were different; if society were differently organized; if my partner were different. That might explain why the author who looks like ‘a mumsy housewife’ and who has a happy marriage writes darkly seductive sexual novels, with aggressive heroes, and why an author with a dysfunctional family writes romances about young women growing into love, without any sexual confrontations.”

I found this very interesting… this idea that we create elements in our stories that express an absence in our own lives.

I’d been thinking about this quite independently. I realized some years back that my heroes are all versions of the imaginary big brother I created for myself when I was a child. I only had younger sisters and I longed for a nice big brother who’d stick up for me in the playground, who might gently tease me and who’d bring all his dishy mates home … That would be heaven!!! (And yes, Hugh Jackman in Paperback Hero, fits that bill beautifully)

And Gabe Rivers from my book A Wedding at Windaroo or Harry Ryder from Her Playboy Challenge could be typical of that kind of hero -- although I think there's a little of the big brother in all my guys.)

But I hadn’t noticed a connection between my subconscious and my heroines until just recently, when I tried to start a new book with a Katie Fforde type heroine. Silly me. I always get off track when I’m influenced by other writers. When will I ever learn? Anyhow, during this process, I realized that my heroines need to be quite strong – stronger than I am. I have never had much confidence and this possibly stems from being sent to school when I was only four. I don’t know. But I realized I need to admire my heroines for having qualities that I perceive to be lacking in myself. Now that I understand that, I feel more secure about my writing.

And Cate Blanchett? Well, I believe she has that strength and balance and groundedness (in her real life) that I want my heroines to achieve. Mostly on their own, but with a little help from their heroes. :) From my books... I think I'd choose Stella Lassiter in A Bride at Birralee and Fiona McLaren in In the Heart of the Outback as examples of strong heroines, although again, I think most of them are stronger than I am.


Liz Fielding said...

Fascinating post, Barb. My subconscious doesn't seem to be much in evidence in my books -- there's nothing I can think that suggests a theme. Obviously the tall, thin, blonde heroines are aspirational *g*, but I do short, plump, dark ones, too. I need to dig out my copy of Jay's book that I need to dig out and re-read.

And maybe think about tackling the one subject I've never written about because it's too close to home.

Fiona Lowe said...

I really enjoyed reading your post, Barb. Thank you for those insights.