Suddenly, the whole world knows what we who read romances already knew about Navy SEALS. Romance writer Suzanne Brockman has been publishing romances about them since 1996, and others have written similar stirring romances about strong men and women and covert military action. Romances reader are very familiar with Navy SEALS. Unlike the Washington Post and other mainstream media, who suddenly were scurrying to write about them, we already had intimate knowledge of these heroes. We are ahead of the curve.
This tickles me because romance readers are often thought to be people who prefer the backwaters of life. Not only are people who read fiction considered to be hiding out from reality, but people who read genre fiction, especially romances, are thought to be living in fantasies instead of living. They also are accused of wasting their time by reading fiction, since only nonfiction can teach anything. Wrong, wrong, wrong on all counts.
When the recent mission in Pakistan to eliminate Osama Bin Laden was described to the public, it was instantly understandable to those of us who read romantic suspense. We easily drew a vivid mental picture of what likely happened and how. We didn’t need to keep pestering for details, because we already knew how Navy SEALS operate. While others rushed to write quickie books featuring such characters, romance readers could revisit books previously published or read, or look for the most recent examples. All of these romances were well thought out, not rush jobs, and they showed what made these heroes tick. Soon we can expect some too-hurried stories from authors and publishers seeking to capitalize on an astonishing recent event that frankly sounds just like a romance.
Or a movie. Action movies also have given us many strong visuals that we can add into the mental picture. When 9/11 happened, many of us remembered various action movies in which the White House was blown up, or New York City or Los Angeles, and so on. We had a hard time separating our memories of lighthearted movies from the tragic reality before us and the threat of what could have happened or might later happen. Romances, like most fiction, take a piece of reality and control it. They also deepen our experience of it as most action movies do not. Navy SEAL romances, which were in existence last century (love to use that phrase), give us a sense of who these people are who risk their lives to perform exceptional missions.
I think romance readers (and of course writers) can pat ourselves on the back regarding Navy SEALS. While hoping to for peace, we romance readers have also been learning about war in digestible and intimate detail. I can’t imagine what else a book can do for a person than marry reality to hope.