By Ana Krista Johnson, author of Jade’s Treasure
“You have the most romantic life!” This from my best friend Laura. I don’t remember the context and how we got to this point in the conversation, but I do remember wanting to look over my shoulder to identify the actual person to whom she might actually make this declaration.
I am a mom, up until last year driving a minivan (currently a Ford Flex). Two kids, a dog, a husband — married 19 years. You’ll notice the dog came before the husband in the list. Sometimes hubby probably feels that way. We work, grocery shop, cook, pay bills, carpool. Not glamorous, not particularly sexy. And romantic? Yes. If 8 loads of laundry are romantic. In which case, I am the queen of living “the romantic life.” Yet, I do happen to write romance and people ask, “Where do you get your ideas?” Mostly the answer is: “From my life.” Hmmmm.
This is the greatest thing about friends — they will point out the things that are right in front of our faces, the things that we should notice. I have a theory. We all have wildly romantic lives. We mostly don’t notice. And maybe romance novels are there to help us notice. So let’s look a little closer.
Setting: I live in Southern California. We have beautiful weather, I can be at the beach or the mountains within a two-hour drive, amazing sunsets. My sister lives in Vermont; in fall the most fabulous foliage. Where do you live? Do you have sparkling snow? The glamour and cultural diversity of a city? A hip music scene? A museum? A small, quiet, tight knit community? My book, Jade’s Treasure, takes place in a rustic, wooded area by a beautiful lake. All of these are romantic. What is right in front of you that is romantic?
Actions: sacrifice, rescue, kindness, humor, self-expression, simplicity. All romantic. Who doesn’t remember the scene from Say Anything when Lloyd Dobler holds the boom-box up outside Diane Court’s bedroom window? It was not expensive or complicated. It was romantic. My husband folds laundry. I hate folding laundry. Romance? Yes!
Character: Solid. Protector. Bold. Anchor. Creative. Wacky. Safe Harbor.
I could go into all of the places we can look in our lives for the romance that is already there: setting, actions, character, special occasions (When Harry Met Sally — New Year’s Eve!). But what my dear friend showed me in one simple statement is that I can look for the romance in my own life. My search will be inspired by the romances that I love to read but the romance is there right in front of me.