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Thursday, March 28, 2013

DEATH, SEX AND TAXES BY MARGARET TANNER


 Everyone has to pay taxes; no government on earth is going to let their citizens get away without paying taxes. Taxes on your salary, business tax, death taxes, you name it, they will tax it.

In romance novels, we don’t talk about taxes. I don’t recall ever having read anything about tax collection.

Sex – yes in all its forms, sweet and tender, just a kiss or two. Hot and spicy, no shutting the bedroom door here, and the really hot stuff that I don’t write, but I do commend the talented authors who do, and pull it off so successfully in their erotic romances.

Death – In novels, I consider death to be a great tool in creating emotion and upping the drama. I don’t mean having the hero and heroine die, but the villains and secondary characters.

I have been thinking about this in regards to my stories. I write historical fiction with romantic elements, so death is probably easier to include in these stories. Harder to justify in contemporary romance, unless it is some villain who is hell bent on harming the heroine and to save her life, he has to meet his maker.

In bygone days, death in childbirth was quite common. People died of snakebite/disease/illness because they were miles from medical assistance or could not afford to pay for it. Bank robbers, stage coach robbers, cattle rustlers etc. the sheriff could quite legitimately shoot these criminals down without fear of reprisal from their peers, or condemnation from the public.

In war, on the field of battle, soldiers die or are wounded, so we happily accept this in historical romance. We probably shed a tear or two for the gallant warrior and the staunch heroine who waits in vain for him to return. We wouldn’t throw the book against the wall because of this. We just sigh with contentment when another dashing soldier rides into the life of our heroine and she finally gets her happily ever after ending.

I have to confess that in all my novels there is some sex of the medium to hot variety and someone must die. Never a main character, of course, but someone invariably has to go, usually a baddie, but not always so.

Frontier Wife - a little boy's dog dies
Savage Possession - a brutal kidnapper dies
Daring Masquerade - the heroine's shell shocked brother commits suicide after returning from World War 1,
Make Love Not War - heroine's brother is wounded in Vietnam, but I let him live.
A Mortal Sin - heroine's brother dies of wounds he received in a World War II battle
A Rose In No-Man's Land - wounded soldiers die because the heroine is a battlefield nurse during the 1st World War
As for taxes, I never mention the word in my novels unless it is to say – the heat became very taxing.


Margaret Tanner
Historical Romance Author


4 comments:

Sarah Raplee said...

This is the first article I've read about using death in Romance Novels, Margaret! Thank you for the pointers.

You got me thinking about my own books, and I realized that Death has a significant impact on them all.

In my first Romance, the heroine is framed for the murder of an evil man she once tried to kill.

In the second, the hero blames himself for the deaths of his fiance and infant son, and a secondary character sacrifices herself to protect the people she loves.

And in the Steampunk romance I'm planning, a mad scientist accidentally brings people back from the dead.

Somehow, I'd missed this thread that connects all my books until I read your post!

Judith Ashley said...

Hi Margaret,

What a great post! Do you plan ahead of time as to who will die and who won't or is it a more spontaneous decision as you write?

Paty Jager said...

Margaret, I agree, death in a book helps with emotion if not to show it but to show maybe the drive behind why a character does what they do. Now I have a challenge to figure out how to use taxes in a book! LOL Great post.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Paty, Sarah & Judith.
Thanks for your comments. A death in a story certainly helps build up emotion. It is surprising how often we use death in a novel without realizing it.

Cheers

Margaret