05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Art of Balancing Light And Dark

As a sensitive person, balancing the positive and negative influences and emotions in my life is extremely important. I’m not talking about situations that arise where I have no control, instead I mean the way I choose to spend my time and channel my energy.

As well as being a romance reader and writer, I’m a true crime junkie—wrongful convictions, serial killers or unsolved murders fascinate me. I listen to true crime podcasts regularly whether it be in the car, washing dishes or hanging clothes on the line.  My star sign is Libra—we crave justice and balance. So while I find these criminal cases fascinating, I also work up a healthy dose of righteous anger as I ponder the injustices of the legal system and life in general.  

Which is why my other passion—reading, watching and writing romance, is so important. Romance novels are referred to as escapism. Some are critical of this—as though something that provides joy and a guaranteed happy ending is somehow a lesser form of art. But I don’t see it this way. Escapism is the appeal. A way to feel good when there’s so much in the world to bring us down.

When I pick up a story I want to laugh, cry and occasionally be so scared I’m hiding under the covers! That’s why I love romance fiction so much. Despite dark and dangerous events, I know I’ll get tummy-flutters from a developing romance and a happy ever after. And if the author can make me laugh—even better.

I’ve always gravitated towards stories that master the intricate balance of both light and dark, which is a difficult task. No matter the medium—be it movie, television or book—making your audience experience emotions at opposite ends of the spectrum is no easy feat. But if you can take them on a journey that makes them laugh-out-loud as well as sob-like-a-baby, it’s well worth the effort.

I’ve discovered how tricky this juggling act can be. I write small town contemporary romance and naturally gravitate towards humour. My characters often take control and come up with some cracking one liners that take me by surprise, but I’m also tackling the seriously non-funny, topic of dog fighting in my novel, Animal Instincts. I almost didn’t write this story, fearing I couldn’t do it justice. How could I have hilarious moments in one chapter and animal abuse in another? Some days I could pull my hair out trying to meld the two. But it is possible. It’s certainly made things difficult, but I couldn’t have told this story any other way.

There are a number of movies, TV shows and books I’ve drawn inspiration from and here are just a few.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

This is my favorite show of all time. The themes explored are often dark, with life and death battles fought in most episodes, but it never fails to make me laugh out loud at the kooky characters and witty dialogue.

Santa Clarita Diet

A suburban mom suddenly craving human flesh and brains should be gross and horrifying, right? Well, it is gross at times, but it’s also hilarious with everyday situations we can all relate to, as well the wackier hijinks that could only arise when living with a zombie in your family.

Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich

Down on her luck and desperate for cash, Stephanie Plum takes a job as a bounty hunter for her sleazy bail bondsman cousin. She’s completely out of her element tracking down criminals, but it makes for great reading.

There are many funny scenes and lines in these books. I’ve actually only read the first few so far, but there are over twenty books in the series now. Between scenes with car explosions and shoot-outs, the heroine and her wacky family and friends provide plenty of laughs.

“You deserved to get run over. And besides, I barely tapped you. The only reason you broke your leg was because you panicked and tripped over your own feet.”

“When I was six years old I sprinkled sugar on my head, convinced myself it was pixie dust, wished myself invisible, and walked into the boys' bathroom at school.”

Which books, movies or TV shows would recommend for their ability to combine the perfect mix of light and dark? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

Lauren James is a country girl at heart. Raised on a small property surrounded by animals, it's no surprise she writes small town romance with lots of love for creatures great and small.

Having failed fabulously at painting, sewing and playing guitar, she finally found her creative outlet in writing strong, quirky heroines, and tough, handsome heroes with gooey animal-loving centers.

Lauren lives on the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia, with her beloved rescue greyhound, Daisy.

You can contact Lauren via her websiteFacebook or Twitter.


Barb said...

Great blog and I agree with everything including loving Buffy and the humour/serious dilemma but I had trouble with the Drew Barrymore clips. OMG it was gruesome lol

Judith Ashley said...

Lauren, I applaud your commitment to shining a light on animal abuse through your writing. I believe strongly that romance stories can shed a light on every day situations. I've never been a Buffy or Zombie fan but I do know what you mean about the Stephanie Plum novels.

Lauren James said...

Thanks, Barb. Buffy mastered those elements. And I agree about Santa Clarita Diet. It's quit gruesome and definitely not for everyone!

Lauren James said...

Thanks, Judith. It's a difficult topic, but I agree that romance novels can tackle those topics along with the romantic relationships and happy ever afters.