In my last post, I mentioned that I had proposed and moderated a panel for the GCLS conference titled: Hopeful Ever After: A Different Kind of HEA.
The basic premise was that in the 50s and 60s, all lesbian and gay novels HAD to end tragically (suicide was a favorite, or institutionalization) or with the main characters marrying someone of the opposite gender, otherwise the US Postal Service would not deliver them in the mail. Probably hard for younger folks to believe, but true.
When the next wave of lesbian novels came out in the 70s and 80s, it seemed everything had to have a happy ending — an understandable reaction to all that came before.
So what we were discussing was whether lesbian fiction has grown to the point where we can have realistic depictions of lesbian life, including the drama and trials of everyday life with characters who happen to be lesbian — just like normal people (go figure!) and how readers react to stories that end hopefully rather than happily.
It should come as no surprise that we did not arrive at any unanimous agreement. Some authors and readers love the happily ever after endings that are expected with romances, and they write and read to escape. Others don’t mind tackling tough subjects. If you’ve read my books, you know where I stand on that.
“I have come to known that all the stories written by Caren have a very mature tone in them. What I have only come to realize after the third book is that, despite all the complicated characters with turmoils, lies, complicated relationships, broken hearts, distrustful partners, damaged minds and all things negative, Caren makes sure that there’s always a sense of hope in between. It’s always there, hidden between the words. And instead of being drown by all the negative feelings evoked by all the dramas, you actually feel hopeful in a very tender manner. It’s the way Caren crafts her words, her sentences and her stories that make you believe that there is always light and everything will be okay. There is always a positive note to all things that happen. It’s like telling you “Yes, everything in life is falling apart right now” and then there’s a silent whisper behind “Maybe they are now falling into the right places”. That’s how I feel when reading her stories, I feel more inspired; more encouraged knowing that.
This book: Year of Monsoon. I really love how Caren uses Monsoon as a metaphor to life. I live in Asia, and we have monsoon seasons. I have witnessed how Monsoon could damage a city or a town every year. And every year after it passes, life goes back to normal again. We pick up the pieces and rebuild whatever that has lost during the season. I used to think that Monsoon was a curse, but I don’t think I would ever look at it the same way again after reading this book. Now I see hope, because I see that now after monsoon passes, everyone, strangers, friends or foes will come together and pick up the pieces for each other, patting at each other back, laughing, smiling, leaving all the animosity behind. Because they know, the monsoon has passed, the houses are going to be rebuilt, the land is soiled, the crops are going to grow again. Life is going to begin anew.”
I cannot tell you how this review made my heart sing! YC summarized exactly what I was getting at during our panel. Even when we aren’t all perfect and rich and beautiful (e.g. almost every character in most romance novels), and though life throws things at us sometimes, books can be written in a way that inspires, that leaves a sense of optimism and hope. And the destruction that comes with the storms that buffet us (literal and otherwise) is not permanent; we do rebuild, we do come back stronger than we were before.
We’ve said it many times, but it can’t be said too often. Thank you, thank you to those who take the time to read and review our books. Maybe our words give you hope, but you give it right back!