08 November, 2012

The Big Smoke Blog Tour: Does Romance Equal Happiness In Fiction?

Today I have the honor of hosting Cally Jackson for her blog tour to spread the word about her new book, The Big Smoke. Take it away, Cally!

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Does romance equal happiness?

I’m a sucker for a good romance. Twilight is one of my favourite books and movies like Ten Things I Hate About You never fail to make me smile. But as much as I love stories like these, they make me slightly uncomfortable. Why? Because they seem to equate romance with happiness, and I’m not sure that’s a great message, particularly for young (and new) adults.

I know that those messages really affected me when I was a teenager, and consequently, I was slightly totally obsessed with finding 'true love' for myself. To prove my point, here are some real, live diary excerpts from when I was seventeen:

'Life just isn’t what dreams are made of. At least, not my dreams. The one thing that really scares me is, what if Billy [ex-boyfriend] is the best thing I’m going to get in life? What if it's all down hill from here?'

I've actually been dreaming about him [an ex-crush] recently, but it’s not really him. I mean, it’s him physically, but personality wise, it’s someone else. I guess it’s my made-up Mr Perfect's personality – someone I unfortunately haven’t had the pleasure of meeting…

The first kernel of an idea for a novel came to me in the same year I wrote those diary entries, and the idea was in the form of a lesson I wanted to teach myself. What was the lesson? That your happiness and life journey are your own responsibility, nobody else's.

Somewhere along the line, I realised that I'd totally bought into the message that romance equals happiness and it’s impossible to be truly happy without it. I decided then that I wanted to write a book that showed this wasn't the case. That book became what we now know as The Big Smoke.

Don't get me wrong, The Big Smoke is not anti-romance, but it attempts to demonstrate that if you have issues, they'll still be there whether you’re in a relationship or not. And in fact, if you get too hung up on being in a relationship, it can actually be an obstacle to happiness.

This was the case for me as a teenager, and it's also the case for The Big Smoke's main female character, Ceara. I have a feeling it may be the case for many other girls (and maybe guys) out there who love teen fiction too.

While The Big Smoke is about a lot more than just this one idea, the issue of romance and happiness is definitely at the heart of the story. I hope that my novel might make some teenagers question whether romance does indeed equal happiness and help them to realise that their happiness is in their own hands, nobody else's.

What about you? Do you think that fiction (particularly fiction aimed at teens) equates romance with happiness? Do you enjoy a good romantic read or would you prefer something more realistic? Or perhaps something that combines the two?

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More about The Big Smoke

Ceara’s desperate for love; Seb's desperate to get laid. Ceara adores reading novels; Seb hasn't finished a book in years. Two strangers, both moving from small country towns to Brisbane – the big smoke. As they prepare to attend the same university, their paths seem set to collide, but they keep missing each other. Maybe fate is keeping them apart, or maybe it's just chance.

When the semester starts, things get complicated. Ceara's best friend withdraws from her, Seb's closest mate turns into a sleazebag, and the relentless demands of university make their stress levels soar. Before their first semester is over, both Seb and Ceara will be forced to question who they are and what they want from their lives. Will they have the courage to find the answers, or will they crumble under the pressure? And when they finally meet, will it be love at first sight or a collision of headstrong personalities?


You can purchase a copy of The Big Smoke
• in paperback format from Cally's buy page (Australia and New Zealand) or Amazon (rest of the world)
• in e-book format from Smashwords (preferred digital supplier), Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Diesel and other e-stores.




-----The Golden Eagle

31 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You're right that happiness is one's own responsibility. Besides, we have to love ourselves before we can love another, and if we can do that, then we're already happy. Sometimes it takes another person to help us see good things in us though, which is probably where that message of romance equals happiness originated.

Cally Jackson said...

Thanks so much for taking part in my blog tour, Golden Eagle. It's been heaps of fun!

Alex - you're probably right about where the romance equals happiness message originated from. It's always wonderful to have someone tell you about your good features! :-)

Old Kitty said...

I hope Ceara and Seb find each other - they may still have issues but it's great if they can share on a deeper level!

Good luck Cally, lovely to meet you! Take care
x

JennaQuentin said...

Sounds like a great message. I have noticed that a diet of only mushy romance novels makes me a little dissatisfied with my true life romance. So I try to mix in some veggie books ;) Thanks for this post - another book on my wishlist!

Deborah Walker said...

Congratulations on the book, Cally. I wish you heaps of success with it.

I'm with Alex on this one.

Pat Hatt said...

True, we have to take it into our own hands, as we search the lands.

Angela Brown said...

Three cheers for your book, Cally. And it is often true that happiness is often equated with romance, though it doesn't have to be. It is possible this stems from the not-so-distant past with traditions and customs based on the two being hooked together in the eyes of many.

Talli Roland said...

I couldn't agree more! I like romances, but I also like realistic romances, where two people come together and remain separate, not magically meld into each other in one ginromous pile o'mush.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Sounds like a great lesson in that book. So many teenage girls really think they need to be in love.

....Petty Witter said...

Great post, it gives so much to think of. I agree with Cally about the dangers of equating romance with happiness.

Charles Gramlich said...

Good luck with "the Big Smoke." :)

JeffO said...

Interesting thoughts, and I wish you well with The Big Smoke, Cally.

Jai Joshi said...

I think that's a brilliant message, Cally. Romance doesn't solve most of life's problems. In fact, it doesn't solve any of them and probably makes some additional ones too. It's fun, and always exciting, but not necessarily essential to happiness.

Jai

nutschell said...

great post! sounds like an intriguing story. And yes, we are all responsible for our own happiness. :)
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

Romance Reader - Nas said...

It was a great post. Thanks for sharing!

All the best with The Big Smoke!

Nas

M Pax said...

I think equating romance with happiness for teens is kind of silly. How many really find 'true' love at that age? Most romance is painful and turbulent at that age. Happiness needs to come from somewhere else and not from another somebody. Congrats, Cally. Great topic.

Waving at Eagle.

Lynda R Young said...

oh I love the issue you've tackled in The Big Smoke!! It's refreshing to see.

Medeia Sharif said...

I believe people can be happy without romance.

Cally's book sounds intriguing. I'm glad she stopped by.

Cally Jackson said...

Thanks so much to everyone for your comments. Glad to see the topic has resonated with many of you! :-)

DWei said...

Finding someone who is perfect for you is like extra frosting on a cake.

But by itself it's not exactly very filling or appetizing.

Paul Tobin said...

I enjoyed your post. I agree that the individual has to reach their own balance irrespective of whether they are in a relationship or not. The book sounds perfect for my youngest daughter.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Two people should compliment each other. And in our house, we joke that mush is not allowed.

Emily R. King said...

Excellent post. I love my husband very much, but being married doesn't always make me happy. Life is hard and being in love doesn't make all that hard stuff go away.

Susan Kane said...

Romance, love, and passion are the result of commitment from both parties. One cannot carry it all.

Carol Riggs said...

VERY cool point. Yes, I think in a lot of teen novels, the idea is reinforced that romance = happiness. (TWILIGHT, anyone?) So it's great this is a book that explores that issue! :)

Carol Kilgore said...

I read about this book someplace else recently. It still sounds good. And I totally agree our happiness is our own responsibility. It begins with being happy with ourselves.

The Golden Eagle said...

Cally: You're very welcome--glad I could participate! :)

Trisha said...

I think this is a great message, Cally, and an important one!

I'm actually not a fan of the overly cheesy 'everything is solved when I have the perfect man' stories. I prefer the meatier kind where a person has to rely on him/herself to really be happy, even if a romantic interest helps out. :)

Mason T. Matchak said...

Definitely agree with you on this one. I really dislike the idea that finding someone is the end-all be-all and will make you happy and complete, so it's good to see not every book sees it that way. ^_^ Best of luck with The Big Smoke.

Tamara said...

Hey, just checking out more of your website. I didn't realize when I came here through the blogfest that you'd written this. I've seen this book (cover reveal) all over the place, but hadn't added it to my TBR list until I read this. It sounds really good.

It's funny, your post made me realize I'm SO guilty of writing books where true-love comes along and changes everything/makes it better. BUT--that was my own experience. Meeting my husband saved my life.Not magically or right away.

For a while, when we were kids, he just screwed my life up more. But, as we grew up, he changed and kinda pulled me along with him.

We were both in a really bad place (both mentally and physically since I met him in juvie haha)Looking back, it feels like, if it wasn't for him, my life could have taken a very bad path.

Still--having said all of that--I don't think our story is average. More often than not, two screwed-up people (particularly teenagers) will just drag each other down.

On the other hand, it was the fact that I knew he loved me when I didn't feel like anyone else ever had that gave me the courage to love myself and that's what brought about the biggest changes.

So, this is a VERY tough question. But you've definitely given me something to think about with the message I want to get across in my next book. Thanks! Excellent post.

Cally Jackson said...

Thanks so much for your comment, Tamara. You make a great point. I definitely think it's possible for love to get you through and lift you up. I think the danger lies when people believe that's the ONLY way they'll ever be happy - can put them in a very vulnerable position.

So glad to hear you added The Big Smoke to your 'To-Read' list - I hope you enjoy it when you read it! :-)