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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Servicemen (and Women!) are Sexy -Let's Write Them That Way!

Okay, I know when when the terms "military" and "contemporary" are used in Romance Land, we usually think of Suzanne Brockmann and Navy Seals. Not that there is anything wrong with that. For the record, I have spent many an enjoyable hour suspending disbelief and enjoying her books. But you know what Pope said about a little knowledge being a dangerous thing, don't ya? Real Navy Seals have a divorce rate of 90% and that's not sexy. Was friends with a girl once whose husband was a Seal, and she had nothing good to say about being the wife of one. She longed for the day when he would get out. I've since lost touch with her so I don't know if she's part of the 90%. Sure hope not.

Military men in Romance Land are often of a "type" and romance has strong elements of fantasy and I enjoy this aspect of romance as much as the next gal. But much of America has lost touch with the military for a ton of political and cultural reasons I am not going to go into here. This lack of direct experience with real members of the military is reflected in romance books. Or maybe I am reading the wrong romance books. So if you can suggest a more "realistic" military romance, I'd appreciate it.

I look around at the people who I work with and I imagine them in uniform. This is what I mean by realistic. Real men. Real women. Your next door neighbor. Your son. Your sister. Your spouse. In uniform, serving our country. Where are the romance books about people like this? Because it is people like this who serve everyday and make the sacrifices.

So my challenge to romance writers is to imagine someone as oridinary and commonplace as a member of your family serving in the Air Force, Navy, Marines, Army or Coast Guard and to write a romance about them. It can be a woman. It can be a nineteen year old African-American female private who is serving in Iraq. Or a graduate of ROTC from the University of New York serving as a communications officer aboard a destroyer. Or an E-5 who is in language school, learning Farsi to serve on a submarine.

If you are writing about the military and everything in the above paragraph makes you go "Whaaaaat?" I would say this is a sign more research is needed. Memorial Day was yesterday. Can we please do our militray the honor of trying to understand them as real people because real servicemen -and women -are sexy.

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