Last week I was talking about popular buildings that feature in romance novels. That got me thinking a little wider - popular occupations and popular locations.
It's a given that any book with Cornwall or Scotland in the title will probably do quite well. What are we buying - holiday memories, wish fulfilment? The idea of escaping to some wild place, particularly if it is a coastal location seems to be a big draw. Not sure if Cornwall in high season would qualify as a wild place these days, but you get the idea. Escape, getting back to nature, living a simpler life? It doesn't really matter if the reality is a little different - in fact maybe it's better that way. It's a dream, and romance authors are big on wish fulfilment.
The other things that seems to get idealised quite a bit are occupations. This loops back a bit to the buildings - baker, guest house owner, bookseller, maybe librarian. All these seem to be things we want to be. No one seems to dream of being a tax inspector, although I have threatened for a long time to include one in a book. Pet sitter, dog walkers, gallery owners, artists, they are all in the list. I suspect that self employment may have a bearing on some of this - the lure of being your own boss. Of course that means that you are where to buck stops, but we are talking wish fulfilment here.
And of course an awful lot of books feature writers.
I have to tell you writing for a living it is not as glamourous or as lucrative as it is made out in books. That has to be wish fulfilment on the part of the author. Writers in books go out to lunch in expensive places, drink champagne, get six figure deals, are interviewed by magazines, get offered film deals, go on perfectly organised international book tours, do their writing in immaculate offices or maybe in their own purpose built shepherd's hut.
Some of that does happen. All of it happens to a few authors, some of it happens occasionally to the rest of us, but not that often. And the average income of an author for the majority is actually below the living wage, so it's not even really a living. But we still do it. Like all those bakers and dog walkers and booksellers, we're doing our own thing. The thing we love.
And who knows, maybe that six figure deal is just around the corner.