My husband and I just celebrated our 20th anniversary. We didn’t have big plans as we were going on a vacation next month, but of course all that has been canceled. I’m writing this post before the anniversary, so I imagine we’ll have a nice dinner. Our cats will celebrate with us. (Yes—3 cats!! We love them. Nessie, KC, and Shadow)
Okay–leaving real life romance and cats and heading to the reading/writing world to talk about natural disasters.
Strange subject, really, for romance readers. But hey, things are strange right now, so let’s go with the flow and tackle a strange subject for our genre.
In my current WIP there’s a flood happening at the end of the book. No spoiler there, it’s eluded to throughout the book. They hero and heroine work together with the town–all ends well. But it got me thinking.
Are there natural disasters people love reading about? I remember reading a Love Inspired suspense novel where the story took place during a hurricane. I loved that story. Now I know we don’t like natural disasters in real life. My son and his wife have been through Hurricane Maria and they felt the earthquakes in January in Puerto Rico. In real life I don’t want any natural disasters to happen anywhere in the world. I literally am frightened reading about them in real life.
But in a book, where everything turns out okay, is it okay to like to read about them? I hope so. I still remember that hurricane book. (Would probably have a very different perspective now!) And we all remember Twister. What a movie. Speaking of movies do you find you like to watch movies about natural disasters over reading books about them? (Am I strange that I love watching the movies as well?) Tell the truth. BUT and this is a big BUT, everything and all the good people HAVE to be okay for me to watch or read.
I’m strictly a romance writer, so whatever is happening in nature will be going along with the love story. In the suspense story I read, the impending hurricane added a lot of tension to the already tense situation with the hero, heroine and bad guy. In fact in this one the heroine thought the hero was the bad guy. So all that combined for a really great, fast paced novel that sucked me in.
My heroine dislikes the town and finds her real disposition toward the town when it is threatened is different from her stated disposition. It really is a fun story—promise!
What about you readers and writers? Have you been through a natural disaster? Do you like to read about them? How do you feel about them in a love story?
As always, thank you for your input! I always love hearing what the readers like and don’t like.
I read a book it was a romance suspense but had a Blizzard and avalanche in the story it was suspense but I could not put the book down.
I have read other romance books with blizzards (a few were Historical). but having a natural disaster as a way for a couple to meet makes sense. LIke bushfire maybe the couple are fire fighters. The aftermath of a hurricane or tornado etc maybe one or both are emergency or relief workers. It happens in real life and it could be used in a story (it doesn’t have to be the worst part of a disaster but just set in the time of the event or around the event. Like a story set in Hawaii with the volcanic activity as a threat or as part of life.
I am sure there are a lot of books that were set during the depression
Lindi Peterson says
Ausjenny. Oh. Yes, blizzards. I love snowed in stories. I like the relief workers meeting.
Mary Preston says
I have lived through quite a few cyclones, floods, droughts, bushfires…
Makes for great reading in books.
Lindi Peterson says
Mary, I bet that was scary. Glad all was okay.
Hi Lindi! Interesting question. Yes I have experienced a few natural disasters and have read about them in stories. Living in Michigan I have lived through the Blizzard of 1968, 1978, 1979, and 2014. Many holiday stories set in the Midwest often have a major snowstorm were couples are stranded together. Because of blizzards folks often shelter in place during the winter months. Living within a mile of the shore of Lake Michigan, we are usually protected from tornadoes, which go south to Indiana or Illinois. Our area did have one tornado in 1969. What we are experiencing in Michigan now is beach erosion. The Great Lakes are at a record high because of warm winters with lots of rain. Homes and roads are being washed into Lake Michigan. The lake has had 15 feet waves pounding the shoreline. While in Tokyo, Japan I felt the shock of a major earthquake 100 miles away in 2008. I was in the elevator and it was banging the sides of the shaft. Quite scary, different than tremors in the Midwest. Best wishes. Stay safe.
Lindi Peterson says
Renate. Wow with that elevator in the earthquake. I bet that was terrible. You have had your share of distress.
Mm I have experienced enough natural disasters to not want to read about them.
Lindi Peterson says
Diane. That makes perfect sense.
Lelia (Lucy) Reynolds says
I have read several heart pounding books and enjoyed several movies that have natural disasters. It keeps you alert and on the edge of your seat.
Lucy—They do! I love that part–although half the time I’m closing my eyes. :)
Yvonne Cruz says
Yes to natural disasters. We all have gone through them at one time or another. They will make the stories more realistic.
Yvonne–Thank you for that aspect. Yes, disasters do happen and the vulnerability brings people together in a different way. :)
Lila Diller says
As long as the ending is happy, I don’t really care what is going on around the couple. Like any setting, that doesn’t really trigger me to avoid the book or make me have to buy the book, either extreme. I have a very vivid imagination that sometimes gets me in trouble. Most of the time when I hear that possible tornadoes are headed our way, I think of Twister and feel that fear in the pit of my stomach. Every time I see something bright in the sky that I hadn’t heard was a planet, I think of Deep Impact. I don’t know that this kind of suspense is really good for me. But as long as the focus is the romance, and it ends happily, it doesn’t matter too much.
Lila–You sound just like me. :) I’m they same way when they’re here—that hurricane Maria with my kids changed me for life! But I love the happy endings–so I’ll read about them.
Kimberly Rose Johnson says
Like you I read that hurricane story too and still remember it. I think I actually do enjoy natural disaster love stories. I don’t think I’d enjoy them without the romance though.
Kimberly–That was an awesome book—:) I love that you read it. I think i judged it for a contest and it had ALL the feels!! But I’m with you about if they weren’t romance–probably wouldn’t read them.
I don’t go looking for books with natural disasters in them, and if I know it has that in it, I sometimes stay away from them, especially hurricanes. I’ve lived through so many of those, and don’t want to know how an author deals with it, especially if they’ve never been through one themselves, as too many details can be changed from what happens in real life. I don’t mind thunderstorms, floods, snow storms, as they can bring a lot to a good suspense story! I read one book that had a hurricane, the author had never been through one, and had some details way off. Since I was the proofreader, I made some changes and e-mailed her about some of them, that they wouldn’t happen in real life. She made changes to make it more believable. I know right now, I will NOT knowingly pick a book to read that has this Covid 19 in it!! Unless I’m the proofreader! Not just for pleasure!
Trudy—Okay I’m with you about the Covid–won’t read a book about that. No way–and Wow, what a help you were to that hurriance writer. I think that’s so important to have the details right. My kids would help me for sure if I wanted to write one, and interestingly enough I amworking on this big book–years now–and it was going to have a hurriance in it–but them Maria hit with my kids. Not sure I can relive that–so i get where you’re coming from and I wasn’t even in it! I can’t imagine how you would feel going through so many. Thank you for keeping it real!
Jessica B. says
It depends on the disaster and the story. I don’t think I would enjoy books about a tornado because that hits too close to home. However, I have read books with blizzards, earthquakes, and floods and enjoyed them, although some of them were historical fiction about actual disasters and not romances.
Jessica–I think for sure it’s a touch and go subject. And I think it has to do with the story–in my story the heroine has a thing against the town–so when it’s in danger it’s a crisis for her–or is it? I don’t think you can just throw a disaster in, I think it has to be a character in the story almost. And I also love reading historical fiction, usually romance though, that has the true history in it.
Valerie Comer says
Janet Ferguson’s Magnolia Storms is a great example of a natural disaster (hurricane) setting for a romance! There was a book in Abingdon’s Quilts of Love series called Beyond the Storm (Carolyn Zane) about the aftermath of a tornado. In both, the natural disaster was a distinct part of the plot, and it works.
Around here, our natural disasters involve blizzards, forest fires, and flooding. I haven’t used a flood (yet!) in one of my novels, but snow and fire have played roles.
Val—Thanks for the heads up on the books. We’ll have to check them out. Like you said, it has to be a part of the plot. And I’m sure you’re good with the blizzards! I know you get a lot of snow up there!!
Margaret Nelson says
I remember reading Catherine Marshall’s Julie, based on the Johnstone flood. I’ve read several other good Christian romance books involving natural disasters, and enjoyed reading them. Karen Barnett has one on the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. I know there are others I’ve read and really enjoyed.
Margaret—Yes–you’re right about those stories. Deanne Gist wrote one about the San Fransisco fire. I read that and enjoyed it. There are more than I probably thought. :)
Julie Arduini says
I enjoy them, probably because I live in an area that does not experience most things. I would think maybe for those in regions prone to hurricanes, etc…they might not want to. As an author, I used a mircroburst in Engaged, and I loved writing it.
Julie—Yes, I agree about living it and maybe not wanting to read it. I went and looked up microburst and wow—that would be a story. You should comment the name of the book and we can read it. :) Those of us who love reading romance/disasters anyway. :)
Merrillee Whren says
I don’t mind reading about natural disasters in books. I don’t go looking for them, but if they are there it usually adds to the story. I know I’ve written about blizzards and a tornado in some of my books.
Merrillee—Like you, I don’t go looking for them. I think written well, they can add a lot of external tension to the story.
blizzards, hurricanes–not direct hits, nor’easters, etc…
Denise—Thank you! We actually ended up eating left overs. :( But we were hanging out togther and that’s what was important. Nor easters are rough. Can’t imagine being in one of them. Blizzards are fun, too. I did write a romance novella that a couple got stranded ina snowstorm. Not a blizzard per say, but it did give some nice tension in the story for awhile. :)
I think any of us would shy away from a story element that brings back memories of pain and loss. Our family has been through blizzards, tornadoes and hurricanes but we have never lost anyone or had our homes seriously damaged. But give me a story where a character dies from a major stroke or causes strife in a family because of mental illness, then I will really consider not finishing it.
The idea of a natural disaster bringing two characters together is a trope that I enjoy. It can be written in a gentler fashion and focus on the relationship story for those of us who need an easier path to our happy ending.
A few weeks ago, I included the following idea in an IR comment. Even COVID-19 can have an up side, lol!
We need a romantic comedy about a young single woman whose married friends are all infecting each other. She’s healthy and winds up helping a handsome and conveniently single doctor at an impromptu recovery center while caring for her friends. She’s shy and a little klutzy but loving and true of heart. He’s socially awkward with a bedside manner to match. Neither appears to be susceptible to the virus so they become their own dynamic duo. That ought to have some potential, don’t you think?
Lincoln—You’r right about not wanting to read things that are too close to home. I’m sure there are those who don’t mind, but a lot of us will shy away. And while a lot of people go through many trying things in real life, I like to escape when I read. That’s why I write the stories I write. And yes, in romance focusing on the couple is most important.
I see your Covid plot working nicely! I’m probably not the one to write that story as it’s out of my normal wheelhouse, but i can imagine in six months times there’ll be pandemic stories galore out there. And I love that trope with the beta hero. I love writing those kinds of guys.
I love your kitties! We have 1 now. She’s Sophia & a sweetie, too. :D
I enjoy reading about some natural disasters as they can bring the characters tension/conflict/danger so “together than can prevail” – my favorite type of storyline. I would much rather have the tension cause from an outside source (such as nature) than have the 2 main characters “acting out” between themselves – and thus the emotional/drama tension (I avoid the latter type of novel).
Blizzards, bad rain storms/flooded dry river bed/mud slides, avalanches, lost in the mts & a storm hits, storms at sea – I’m pretty open except forest fires with para-jumpers as the main characters. I read a terrible story about a para-jumper squad once. My friend’s son has worked summers jumping into US national park forest fires, out of WA. So I now avoid that, those are too “close to home.” And agreed – only HEAs.
I enjoy an occasional disaster movie – (hated the Titanic, thought the Perfect Storm was incredibly sad), but enjoyed Twister, & Dante’s Peak is creepy. Now that I think about it, in movies I like “creature” disasters more than “natural” disasters – because they Can’t really happen. Like Jaws, Tremors, Anaconda, & Meg.
Hi Penelope–fellow cat lover!! I bet your kitty is sweet. :) You mentioned avalanches–i hadn’t thought of that. And yes, reading about the para-jumper would be hard with such a close connection. And hey, I totally forgot about creature movies—I watch them with hands over face most of the time! Although I must admit the techy ones, like Transformers, I don’t watch–those big machine monsters scare me awfully! Not sure why.
Susan Johnson says
I enjoy reading about natural disasters in romance stories as long as the main people are ok. I love your kitties. We have four and one of mine looks like your calico.
HI Susan–another cat lover! 4 cats–I keep trying to bring another one home and hubby says no. :) And hes, my tag line is happy endings are just the beginning…so that is a must!