I love a good fictional universe. Like Julie Andrews in Disney’s Mary Poppins, I want to jump in and experience it for myself. And in my warped, naïve little mind, I am sure the characters would absolutely be friends with me.
Which is why, when David Sedaris, in Holidays on Ice, referred to his inevitable and impending friendships with the actors and characters of the ABC soap opera “One Life to Live” I peed with laughter.
“In my imagination I’d go straight from Penn Station to the offices of “One Life to Live,” where I would drop off my bags and spruce up before heading off for drinks with Cord Roberts and Victoria Buchannon, the show’s greatest stars. We’d sit in a plush booth at a tony cocktail lounge where my new celebrity friends would lift their frosty glasses in my direction and say, “A toast to David Sedaris, the best writer this show has ever had!!!””
He goes on from there and mentions this fantasy relationship with the characters of OLTL several more times in the book, each time more hilarious than the next (Check out the actress that plays Blair).
Thinking about my favorite fictional universes I realized that outside of soap operas, my literary faves are of the paranormal variety. In that vein, the list is l-o-o-o-o-o-n-g. The magical world of Harry Potter, obviously, but then there are Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters, Sarah Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses and Throne of Glass series’, Bon Temps, Louisiana of Sookie Stackhouse and True Blood fame and perhaps the fictional place I would most like to visit: San Fransokyo of Big Hero 6. I can visit Hogwarts at Universal Studios, but I’m fairly certain Idris is still off limits, so…
Yet none of these are contemporary romance. Does the genre not lend itself to a fictional universe? Can you mix real places with fictional elements effectively and successfully extend that universe beyond the pages of a book?
I, for one, would love to visit Nate’s bar in Julie James’ The Thing about Love or buy a bottle of Lagavulin to drink while I am reading one of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood books. I am just as likely to buy a Gryffindor t-shirt as I am to sport a Cold Fury hockey jersey (name the writer and series and you definitely get a shout out!).
Here at Dōjini, we’re going to experiment. Starting with Violet Van der Haals’ Pinterest board. Violet is the heroine of our next novel, a graphic designer, a bit of a fashionista, and a huge Pinterest fan. Check out her board here and don’t forget to tell me what you think!
I have a lot of ideas around extending romance stories beyond the pages of a book and I’m not afraid to futz around with new ideas. Please let me know your thoughts, your favorite fictional romance universe, and anything else that floats your boat about our developing contemporary romance world. Comments are welcome! (Actually, we’re desperate for them).