A few years ago, I remember sitting down with a couple other BSB authors and remarking that I was having a hard time finding characters I could relate to. Not because I wasn’t finding stories that had great plots and well rounded characters, but because I was reading so many romances that featured characters that, to me, were adults. Like real adults, with jobs that they kept for more than six weeks. Doctors and Cops. And pirates. Pirating is a legit career with a goal of retirement. I was reading about real adults that didn’t have student loan debt that they had made a fun game out of deferring. The only uncertainty in their lives was in the romance department, but I always felt like those characters had their shit together. And that shit was going to stay together because that’s what adults do. They keep their shit together.
My shit was not together at the time. I was looking at the 30, wondering when the hell I was going to stop calling my parents for help. And by help I mean money. In truth, now my shit is only really together in the sense that I’m not homeless or in any sort of legal trouble. It’s 2014 and I don’t have kids. Or a house. Or a dog. Or a healthy retirement plan. Or the white Escalade I was promised by my 17 year old self. I don’t have a stand mixer either. I don’t know how I live.
My parents left New York City to give my siblings and I a better life and we bought into that life completely. I KNEW by the time I was thirty, I would be the queen of the PTA. I would be rich. Like so fucking rich. There were visions of a jogging stroller and two chocolate labs you would totally let off leash, but wouldn’t stray. I would an expert knitter and seamstress. I would also have some sort of career that I loved. At age 10, I told my dad that I was going to be a pharmacist. I had no idea what a pharmacist did. There were no visions of any sort of partner, this was just this sort of life my upbringing in New Hampshire, by black folks who done everything right, had promised me.
This was also the dream promised me by a booming economy that just doesn’t exist any more. And heteronormative capitalism. But I’m only one Bekah. I can only fight the system so much. And it’s really hard to fight the system with 25+ episodes of House Hunters on Netflix.
And this is why New Adult fiction, romance in particular, is so important to me. This is why I felt completely comfortable and almost obligated to write Treasure. The clinical definition of New Adult fiction involves characters ages 18-25 or characters near that age who are going through a major life transition that leads to gains in maturity and life experience.
My real life is bags and I mean BAGS of Pizza Rolls. I love things that can be microwaved. It’s putting off maintenance on my car for at least 18 months. I’m an adult now. I can’t pretend to be anything else, but in a lot of ways I’m wrestling with stuff that I wrestled with when I was in my early twenties. Trisha and Alexis, my leading ladies in Treasure, are both entering this transitional period of their lives from two very different directions. Alexis had tried and failed to live up to her parents lofty expectations. Trisha is out in the world, taking care of herself and helping her mother support her five foster kids, but she still feels the pressure to do more, to be more.
I can relate to Alexis and Trisha because even though I know I am smart and resourcefully, it took years for me to feel like I didn’t have to be dependent on my parents anymore. I can related to Trisha and Alexis, because even when I found my independence and some sense of direction, I felt this weird sense that my parents wanted me to keep depending on them until my life went the way they envisioned it.
I can relate to Trisha because I’ve thought about stripping to pay bills. I’ve thought about it A LOT. Too bad I’m horrible in heels.
I can related to Alexis because at one point I felt like such a failure because I wasn’t living up to the standard that the 80s had laid out for me I didn’t see the point of living anymore.
And I can relate to Trisha and Alexis because love and interpersonal relationships were two of the few things that kept me going when I was maturing through some pretty crappy life experience.