A Journey Into Imagination
by Lulu Taylor
I’ve always loved chick lit. Or, to put it another way, I loved books. Books that are fun, that amuse, that entertain and inform me in the most enjoyable way possible. Books that are as delightful to read as it is to sink into a hot bath, a soft bed or to savour a delicious meal. As a girl, I devoured all manner of books: romantic novels, historical tomes and comic romps, and all the rest. I loved to escape into different worlds.
All readers know this magical journey into imagination, and for me, it’s one of the great pleasures of life. I can’t imagine life without books and stories, and writing my own stories was something I always did. I typed out my first novel aged thirteen – an adventure story set in Russia and England in the 19th century in which my heroine underwent just about every difficulty imaginable before her happy ending – and printed it out on that old computer paper with holes down the sides. I still have some of it somewhere. At school, I circulated episodes of stories to my classmates. I don’t know if they liked it or considered it a nuisance, but I still did it.
I loved nothing more than a rollicking adventure yarn with plenty of romance and drama, and when I came to try my hand at writing properly, hoping someone might want to buy it, that was the genre I was drawn to. I get exasperated with people who consider fiction useless unless it’s heavy-weight and literary. Have they never watched a romantic comedy at the movies? Do they only watch serious, high-minded television? Of course not. So why pick on books?
After all, a good romantic novel is one of the hardest things to do, as anyone who has tried it knows. Besides the sheer difficulty of writing a readable and interesting story, the readers are smart, savvy and they know the old routines. It’s hard to surprise such a sophisticated audience and it’s a challenge to please them. The plotting, characters and writing have to be of a high standard, no matter what critics of the genre may think. These books are too often dismissed as girly, which also infuriates me because I think women are discerning readers who quickly decide whether something is worth their while or not. Of course people have different tastes and it’s impossible to satisfy everyone. My book Outrageous Fortune is my most adventurous story yet, with reversals of fortune, disguises and transformations, and I hope it entertains people enough to keep the pages turning and provide the escape into another world that we readers enjoy so much.