Happy Valentine’s Day whether you are in a relationship or not. I am currently single myself, but I still put out my collection of old candy boxes and hung a garland of cards going back to my childhood. Who doesn’t love a good romance? Not a fan of romance novels? You don’t have to be. Most of us like a touch of romance in our stories even if it is not the main focus of the novel or story or movie. James Bond is famous for his short-lived romances. There’s nothing like the feeling of falling in love, and we enjoying reading about characters who do. Having a love interest increases the stakes for the protagonist. Even if it is unrequited love. Some of the most famous stories are about those who loved but were not loved in return. Those who love and fall out of love are just as well known. Almost any kind of story involves some element of love.
Love and death are hard to get away from thematically. Having a love interest does not make your story a romance. Star Wars, Star Trek. Without love, life can feel pointless or bleak. This year’s Oscar nominees are full of stories where love or empathy are lacking. I’m still ploughing through them as I can find them. They are a dark, brooding, twisted lot with a few exceptions. It has been difficult for me to bring myself to watch some of them. Take All Quiet on the Western Front for example. It’s a good version of the story, well-acted, grim as you would expect, but I’ve seen the other versions and read the book, and they didn’t change the ending. Did I need to see it yet again? I know it’s for a younger generation that might not get exposed to it if we didn’t film it once more.
The movie The Banshees of Inisherin is another bleak, gruesome movie, but this one did have something new to offer, and I liked it. The subject was loneliness and how to cope with it, especially if you live on an island, where you know everyone and very little happens that is new. Valentine’s Day spent by yourself can feel lonely to some. You can invite a friend out, watch a romantic movie, or read a good book. I might be doing all three.
My novel includes some failed romance. Lincoln and his sidekick Speed were both bachelors at this point with few romantic prospects. Lincoln had already experienced several sexual encounters with prostitutes that are hinted at in some of his correspondence. There was speculation at the time that he had also been with some of his married acquaintances. He had recently been engaged then unengaged to Mary Owens. The failed romance in my novel is fictional and meant to represent what he and Speed may have been experiencing at the time. There is romance among some of the minor characters as well. One of the disadvantages of historical writing about a well-known character is that we all know he ended up with Mary Todd. It is a matter of opinion as to how successful or not their relationship was.
Whatever you do, enjoy the day.