Guest blogger: Ella Carey
Being asked to write about anything romantic for this blog is a beautiful, dreamy sort of task. When I think of the romantic, I think of magic, of possibilities. I think of hope.
We often link the idea of the ‘romantic’ with escape. But for me, if something is to be romantic, it has to do more than simply provide escape—it needs to transport you, to send your imagination into realms above and beyond where you are at the time. In a sense, to be romantic, I would say that something needs to be uplifting. It needs magic, it needs to appeal to our ability to dream. Readers of romance, then, must be kindred spirits—they by nature constantly seek to lose the prosaic!
Perhaps, being an avid reader of romance stems from your childhood—think about fairy stories that lifted you quite into another space, away from school work and lunch boxes and routine and short socks and school dresses and sandals and teachers and black boards and all that. Perhaps something resonated with you then, and it has remained with you until now. Maybe you preferred magical forests and stunning old chateaus in fairy tale stories to the every day and maybe that’s a good thing—the idea of romance is all about possibilities after all, and I think it’s also about hope.
But before you start reading about people, or characters who will inhabit new worlds, it is the setting that can inspire one to the idea of romance. Paris, Prague and Florence are the most romantic cities in the world for me. Romantic histories, lost stories, exquisite architecture, turrets and curlicues, cathedrals and palaces. All of this can add up to one heady mix. As a writer of romantic novels, these places provide endless enchantments. It doesn’t take much for my imagination to soar. Take a European city, a secret history, a lost palace or a moonlit lake. Any of these things can set me off.
But if storytelling is an emotive art form, then the resonance that exists in a romantic novel is in the same way, instinctive—unspoken, delicious. We are not dealing with the rational at certain levels at all. It fascinates me when characters don’t understand why they are drawn to each other—what is it that compels their attraction to another? What if they are completely different, what if they do tend to fight, and yet they are still drawn to each other? What is that? Once again, we have that sense of magic, of something that is beyond our reach and understanding—so we come back to the idea of romance.
And that essence, of the magical, appeals to our subconscious of course—to that dreamy part of ourselves, that, dare I say it, may have been drummed out of us as we grew up. And yet, if you are a reader of romance you have somehow not given it up, not at all.
As a reader of romance or of any fiction at all, you bring every part of yourself to a novel as you read. Reading is creative in itself, and it’s your creation that matters. And this idea is empowering too.
So my idea of a book will be completely different from yours and from the people with whom you might go out for lunch to discuss what novels you have just read, and that’s fine—because as a writer, you want your readers to take up their own vision of your books. It’s one of the reasons you write. Because it is incredibly rewarding when someone finds something in your work that you quite simply did not know was there.
There is a reaching out that happens between a writer and a reader, a connection with people you would simply never meet. You are both creating as you go—the writer and the reader—as your imagination both interpret and distil and visualise and dream. If you lapse into a dreamy sort of magical state when you read, you are quite simply, creating as you go.
Romance then is elusive, always a little beyond our reach, and yet we yearn for it. Always magical. The romantic is only limited by our dreams.
Ella Carey is a writer and Francophile who claims Paris as her second home. She has been studying French since the age of five, and she has degrees in music and English. Her debut novel, The Paris Time Capsule, as captured global attention and her second novel, The House by the Lake, will be released on 29 March 2016. She lives with her two children and a pair of Italian greyhounds in Hobart.
The House by the Lake
Anna is content with her well-ordered life in San Francisco. But her world is turned upside down when her beloved grandfather, Max, reveals a startling secret: Anna is part of an aristocratic family who lost everything during World War II. What’s more, Max was forced to leave behind a precious item over seventy years ago in their estate in old Prussia. It’s now his ardent wish that Anna retrieve it.
Anna burns with questions as she heads for Germany: What memento could be so important to her grandfather? And why did he keep their history hidden? As she searches for answers, she finds herself drawn to Wil, a man who may hold the key to unlock the mystery. Together they discover that her family’s secrets are linked with an abandoned apartment in Paris, and these secrets go deeper than she ever imagined.
Alternating between 1930s Europe and the present, The House by the Lake illuminates the destiny of a family caught in the tumult of history.