Sunday, July 01, 2007

Homesick and Flying Under False Colours

I'm writing my fourth, fifth, and sixth alien romances at the moment, with the greatest emphasis on the fourth, but with some awareness for the fact that I can't kill off the alien beefcake.

At some point, I'd like to explore homesickness, either as something a human abductee suffers, or else as an issue that an alien has to deal with. It's not something one grows out of... or is it? I'd love to know other bloggers' experiences.

The first time I was away from home, as a schoolgirl, for a sleepover at a friend's home, I remember being miserable. As time went on, I had to be away from home for longer and longer periods: a long weekend camping trip or two and a couple of fortnight-long residential courses for the Duke of Edinburgh's award; university term times; boarding school holidays when I taught in Dorset.

Over the subsequent years, my life became exciting and glamorous. I fell in love and set up a household of my own... and moved house three times within Germany, not counting months in hotels between moves, and a couple of times in the USA. My own final nesting place in an adopted land isn't what I think of as "home".

I'm not going "home" for the summer this year, for several very good reasons, some of them logistical. (The logistics of intergalactic space travel would also be a difficulty in my books... on a much grander scale than my own which have not a little to do with multiple food allergies and current restrictions on the food and drink that one may take through security.)

Suddenly, vague yearnings to make contact with friends I've hardly thought about, except to send a Christmas card to... maybe... have prompted time-consuming mini-quests to get back in touch, and I've realized that I am homesick. I think, but I'm not sure, that part of the problem is that I don't have the choice this year. Either that, or I'm getting sentimental in my second half-century.

I contacted my old college, Homerton, Cambridge, and discovered that I am "a lost sheep" as far as the Keeper of the Rolls is -or was- concerned. Funnily enough, the fund-raisers never lost touch with me.

I've joined . Today someone wondered aloud --because we write on a wall, like twittering at how many of the people on the "London" network did not actually live in London at all. I felt like I was flying under false colours by lurking, so I declared myself.

As for my writing, "homesickness" is quite a challenge. For instance, FORCED MATE was (and is) a futuristic take on the classical myth of Persephone who was swept up into Hades's chariot and carried off to his dark world.

Since Forced Mate is a romance, the heroine had to live happily ever after, so I couldn't deal with the pomegranate seeds and her homesickness, and the eventual joint custody ruling by Zeus so Persephone spent half the year with her dh and the other half with her mother.

I think I know which future heroine may end up being homesick.


  1. I have a story inspired by the Persephone myth. Only, my Zeus decides he'd rather keep Demeter warm and happy than rule the universe, so he charges down into the Underworld to rescue Persephone himself, gets knocked on his butt, and Persephone beats the snot out of Hades, even though she's love with him, to save Zeus. And Demeter packs some heat and blasts the whole place apart.

    Incidentally, how written in stone is that HEA requirement for this subgenre? I'm finding few of my stories end neatly with that. They may not belong in SFR at all.

  2. Kimber an,

    I think the need for a Happy Ever After depends on your editor, your publisher, and where you will be shelved.

    For a LoveSpell, the satisfactory romance is probably the most important factor.

  3. I would imagine the definition of 'satisfactory romance' is highly subjective too.

  4. You are absolutely right!

    In the line I write for, HEA and "satisfactory romance" both mean that the hero and heroine cannot sleep with anyone else after they have met, by the end of the book they must be in a committed relationship --either married, or soon to be married-- and there must be the probability that they will live happily ever after.

  5. Anonymous12:30 AM EDT

    My heartfelt sympathies, dear lady. I can scarcely imagine such homesickness -- at least not yet. For me, home has always been where my folks live, and it's been years since I lived more than an hour away from them -- even longer still since I knew the homesickness I experienced as a youth, when I was away with friends. I expect when they pass on, I'll have an inkling of that kind of ache, that want that can't be filled. For now, I count my blessings.

    As characters and stories go, I realize now that several of mine have experienced homesickness in one form or another, at one time or another. It takes different circumstances for each to bring such an emotion to the fore, but once invoked it's a powerful driving force. Perhaps it's a variation on love -- or an offshoot of it. Perhaps, too, it's one of those concepts that transcends species. Surely so for any species that recognizes the concept of "home".

    Bless you, dear. ~D

  6. Dear David,

    Thank you so much for your very kind words.

    As you say, homesickness may be one of those transcending emotions that we can understand and sympathize with in any sentient creature.


    I should write down my feelings in a manuscript file while they are strong!