Friday, January 27, 2012

Tune in Tomorrow For Another Episode of 'Do You Really Expect Me to Believe That?'

Years and years ago, I admittedly became quite attached to soap operas.  Some might even say I was totally addicted, but I'm inclined to disagree.  So what if I ignored the Lamaze method and breathed in time to General Hospital's Dr. Tony Jones' heart monitor during labor with my second child?  I mean, the TV was on and Tony had been shot by Jack Slater, although I can't remember if that was before or after he'd been rendered temporarily blind.  I do know that Tania had not yet perished in the car accident….

Anyway, I set aside time  to watch four daytime dramas and managed to keep track of every evil patriarch, pregnant debutante and routine tragedy.  I gladly believed in five-minute paternity tests, the boarding school that accelerated a child's age by fifteen years in less than six months, and every heart-stopping whodunit that remained unsolved for weeks, despite the obvious suspect.  I also admired that even among the fictional chaos, they managed to raise awareness of some very important issues, like HIV and breast cancer. Yet at some point in time—and I think it coincided with my writing addiction—I stopped tuning in. 

Skip forward fifteen years or so to this past summer when I begin watching two of my favorites again with my daughter (the Tony Jones heart-monitor baby). You'd think I might have problems catching up after such a long hiatus, but it hasn't been too difficult—except when it comes to the next generation and trying to pin them on the correct parents since it's not uncommon in Soap Opera Land for someone to pass off a child on the incorrect father.  I'm beginning to think maybe a spread sheet might aid in avoiding confusion.  

Anyhoo, I've recently discovered I don't so easily buy some of the scenarios this time around.  What trauma surgeon leaves a shirtless, hunky cop, who's bleeding out with a gunshot wound to the chest, alone with only his non-medically trained fiancé to attend him?  Where did the mob boss get the magic drug that brings a purely evil femme fatale out of a incurable coma to wreak more havoc?  My habit of asking these questions during the show drives the TJHM baby insane, and she's quick to point out this is a soap opera, not real life.  She's absolutely right.

Soap operas are designed to allow a viewer to escape the rigors of reality and enter a world of make-believe.  A world where kids grow up extremely fast and almost everyone has untold wealth, a target on their backs and a hairstylist on call.  In general, they operate on what is known as 'suspending disbelief', meaning you're willing to quit questioning the journey and just enjoy the ride.

Although I tend to write more reality-based romance these days, I have asked readers to ditch their disbelief on several occasions.  I have happily been a part of the best-selling Harlequin Desire series, The Texas Cattleman's Club, featuring a small West Texas town populated with so many millionaire ranchers and sheiks and such that you can't throw a stone on the street without hitting one.  And you don't want to hit one because they're all highly-trained military types--and of course, very good-looking.   With my Gothic-style romance, House of Midnight Fantasies, I invited readers into a mysterious antebellum plantation where a woman with telepathic powers taps into the equally mysterious--and gorgeous--owner's fantasies about her (like that happens every day).  I've written about secret babies, an Internet mistaken engagement, a hot air balloon that lands on a yacht, and an Irish-American family with five successful siblings who find love in some unexpected ways.  In contrast, I've also written stories highlighting deaf culture, childhood diabetes, domestic violence and blindness.  But the common denominator in all my books involves two people overcoming obstacles and finding love as they strive for that happily-ever-after ending that doesn't always happen in real life.  Simply stated, every time I write a book, I'm asking readers to escape into a fictional world where two strangers could meet, fall in love, break-up, marry in less than a week and mate for life.  Where rich, honorable men are readily available and love is the greatest power of all.  Come to think of it, I firmly believe that last part is true.   Guess that's why I love what I do.

I'm also of the opinion that everyone needs to escape reality now and then. So how do you escape?


Latesha said...

Hi Kristi,

You are so right about taking a hiatus from soap operas and being able to pick up on them quickly. I find the storylines are not as intriguing as they once were. I prefer reading books whenever possible to escape from reality, so keep on writing!

Rox Delaney said...

Thanks for the memories. :)

Judythe Morgan said...

Great blog topic, Kristi. I loved my daily escapes with Guiding Light and As the World Turns. Still moping over their cancellations.

Kristi said...

Hey, Latesha! So glad to 'see' you! You're so right about the soap story lines. However, it's kind of like that old train wreck thing, I can't stop watching! Luckily we now have that thing called a DVR so I can schedule viewing the trials and tribulations around my writing.:)

Kristi said...

You're welcome, Rox. And thanks for slaying the gremlins.:)

Kristi said...

Hey, Judythe! My mother loved ATWT. I remember her sending us outside to play so she could watch without interruption. Didn't that show feature Lisa and Kim? And she just thought I wasn't paying attention.:)

I heard a rumor that GH might be cancelled in the fall. If that's true, I see a major uprising on the horizon. Soaps have been a daytime staple for so long, I'd hate to see it all come to an end.

Playground Monitor said...

I started watching GH after my first child was born. We were living in Germany and only had one channel (the Armed Forces one). GH came on when he nursed every afternoon. This was the Luke and Laura era. I watched for the remaining 2 years we were in Germany and a little after we got back to the States. But I had a house and yard to tend to in addition to a child, and I drifted away from GH.

Earler this month when I was first laid up from the wreck, I escaped into two seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race on Netflix streaming. OMG! The drama! It might as well be a soap.


Kristi said...

Marilyn, I believe that qualifies as an escape into the bizarre. LOL!