Our Round Robin Blog Hop for March 2022 asks: What messages do your books give your readers?
My books don’t start out with a message – at least not consciously, but by the time I’ve arrived at the end, there usually is a message to be taken away. In my Camerons of Tide’s Way contemporary romance series, each book is a love story and like all romances, they feature the “happy ever after” expected in a romance. In order to arrive at that HEA the hero and heroine need to overcome whatever the conflict that kept them apart at the start, so it kind of depends on the conflict, what the message is.
In some romances, that conflict might be overcoming a racial or social divide (the prince and the pauper, or a mixed race or religion.) In ages past those barriers were never crossed, but in today’s world they frequently are, so stories featuring these types of issues forces the hero and heroine to see beyond the confines of their own social set to the strengths and good points of someone else who grew up different. The general lesson learned would be to approach life and new people without bias or prejudice.
In my Tide’s Way books, the heroes and heroines don’t face societal divides and each story had a different lesson. In Trusting Will, Brianna had to find trust and learn to love again in spite of having given her heart to a soldier who had been killed in action. In Loving Meg and Worry Stone, the main characters returned from a war and had to find their way back to life as a civilian. Both struggled with the nightmares and guilt and eventually learned the lesson that healing begins when you finally reach out for help. In Loving Meg, that reaching out was to a dog. Usually it’s a trained service dog that helps a soldier to heal, but in this story, the dog had his issues, a police K-9 who lost his partner in the line of duty. Meg and Kip ended up healing each other. In Worry Stone there were two lessons to be learned. Sandy learned that no matter how much she loved Cam, she couldn’t fix his problems and Cam finally came to that place where he knew he had to reach out to others who’d been where he was and understood his issues. And in reaching out, he found healing. Both stories were also a lesson for the reader who might never have considered the toll war takes on the human mind and heart, or what is means for soldiers to put their lives on the line for an ideal like freedom.
In Keeping His Promise, Kate Cameron Shaw has a “Not-in-my-backyard” attitude toward a good program aimed at helping unfortunate men who got a lousy start in life. The hero, a cop, is in favor of the program, but regardless of her feelings for him, she’s still staunchly against it. Until she meets a man who’s been there, done that, who shares just how close he was to taking his own life in despair with Kate. Kate opened her mind and listened and learned something even those she loved couldn’t teach her. The lesson here is to keep your mind open. Don’t judge others until you’ve learned both sides of the story. A willingness to see both sides of an issue is a lesson we all could take to heart in the current heated and often vitriolic world we live in. Find out all the facts before making up your mind. Don’t let social media or close-minded sources make your decisions for you. Be willing to do your own research and learn new things. Be willing to be flexible and to compromise. Good things happen when we all work together to make things better. A very current example is the newly passed Florida law that the media has dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” and has convinced much of the public to believe that it is an anti-LGBT law. What the law DOES say is that gender identity cannot be taught before grade 4 and thereafter must be presented in age appropriate ways. It also forces the schools to allow parents access to records kept by the schools regarding their own children. My character, Kate, might have been swayed by that media slogan that has become a strident chant and never found out what the bill really included, just like she was dead set against having a second-chance house for men being released from jail in her town until she met a man who had been in that situation and turned his life around because someone gave him a second chance.
In my mainstream, The Candidate, Matt Steele is in a close race for the White House with two equally likely opponents. All three men have secrets, some from the past, that suddenly become a problem in the present. Each man is faced with the decision to keep the knowledge to himself, or to be up front with it and let the voting public decide if he is the man they trust to lead them. While I know it’s unrealistic, given todays’ politics, I wanted my hero to be the better man. I wanted him to struggle over that decision. So, I guess the take-away is that honesty, as we were taught as kids, is always the best policy.
All my stories have some lesson in them, maybe not the main theme of the book, but a lesson none the less. Life itself is a constant challenge to grow and learn, and the stories we read can be the same. Life can crush you if you let it, or you can dig in, learn from your own mistakes and those of others, find courage, strength and the will to overcome. Life, love, sacrifice, peace and blessings are all priceless and worth striving toward. Those are lessons we can learn even when the teachers are fictional characters in a story.
Here’s a take on the question by other writers in this Round Robin Blog Hop:
Dr. Bob Rich