I am always on the search for a good love story. Not particularly loyal to one genre, I read thrillers, science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction, anything as long as the love story pulls me in. It can be tragic or uplifting. The attraction of opposites, happy endings or unrequited. What is most important is the love story feels real, because in this way the characters walk off the page and into my heart.
So why are love stories as important now as they ever were?
The obvious answer is escapism. Especially in a world of so much conflict and war. In a novel, love can be depicted that is otherwise lacking from day-to-day life. But the love story is not a vehicle through which to hide from the life. It has greater relevance by pushing the reader into questioning how they interact in the world. Every love story demands courage from the main protagonists. The reader aspires to be as brave. To listen to their hearts and take risks and to push boundaries for love. A good love story is far from light -weight.
In my novels, I pose a question for the reader:
What if you can find unconditional love beyond the page?
This is why I hunt for love within my family dramas of secrets and lies. Love in all is guises between a parent and child, friends or lovers.
The love story transcends every era never losing its impact from Anthony and Cleopatra and Romeo and Juliet to Wuthering Heights, Gone With The Wind and Dr. Zhivago. Contemporary romance is often less sweeping, but no less moving and more akin to Jane Austen classics. Authors like Monica McInerney, Dave Nicholls and Sinead Moriarty balance perfectly humour, poignancy and family intrigue within contemporary love stories.
In my new novel, The Gravity of Love, my purpose was to write a love story rooted in real life while considering the science of love. Is there a law of nature to love? A force?
Tired of the myth of The One, I wanted to share a story with a different underlying concept:
There are many The Ones.
After all, we all know it is rare for a marriage to last forever. Though most romantic relationships are finite, why do we feel such failures when they end? By attachment to the idea you already found The One, how do you recover when it turns out you were not their One? Or you never find anyone up to the job of being your The One? Worst of all, you cannot appreciate your current relationship, because you let The One go? Looking back with regret into the past, while never fully in the present. I wanted to de-bunk all The One mythology. Present a way of finding love within the pages of a romance more grounded in reality, yet as heart-wrenching as any of the great love classics.
The concept behind The Gravity of Love is the idea of love having its own force of nature. There is no coincidence in a series of random meetings (the particles of life) as a process similar to the law of physics is followed through: magnetism, attraction, connection, resistance, and synthesis.
There is another side to the science of love: chemistry. When I write love stories, the sexual intimacy between two characters is a very important element in the book. It is not with the intention of arousal as in erotica, but with the purpose of enveloping the reader in a sense of the physical manifestation of a true love. It is hard to write a sex scene. It is necessary to be a little bold but through the authentic rendering of love-making a reader is able to identify more closely to the love story. We all know it, deep down. Our desires are rooted in sensual chemistry. How the scent and touch of one may spark us into action, and another not. It is essential for the longevity of a relationship for the chemistry to continue to react. The scientific explanation for what exactly love is has been studied by scientists for decades, who have broken down its physical symptoms – racing heart, sweaty palms – to reactions in the brain caused by the release of different hormones. Love is the combination of scientific fact, imbued with the longings of our deepest wishes as human beings.
So how do you write a real love story?
A love story of our times weaves many different elements within it. Lightness through the serendipity of its budding, romance through the gravitational pull between two characters, and real conflict over family loyalty. Darkness through the fear of change, betrayal, and the secrets buried in every family stifling free will. A love story should always expand the reader’s experience. Whether the ending is tragic, happy or unresolved, the reader is activated by hope. This surely is the ultimate message for the human condition just as William Blake wrote:
‘And we are put on earth a little space
That we may learn to bear the beams of love.’
(c) Noelle Harrison
Noelle Harrison is the Irish author of Beatrice, A Small Part of Me, I Remember, The Adulteress & The Secret Loves of Julia Caesar. Her Valentina trilogy was published under the pen name Evie Blake. She has been translated into over 13 different languages, as well as featuring on Der Speigel’s Bestseller List. Noelle was one of 56 Irish writers included in the National Gallery of Ireland anthology and exhibition Lines of Vision, Irish Writers on Art. Now living in Edinburgh, Noelle divides her time between writing fiction, and on art and travel, as well as pursuing a Masters in Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier University.
Author photograph (c) Chloe Martina Salvi
About The Gravity of Love:
Could Joy have been a different kind of girl, another woman, if her mother hadn’t given her up?
“From the arid desert of eighties Arizona to swinging sixties London, Noëlle Harrison connects her beautifully drawn characters and weaves them into a story that entangled, enchanted and entranced this reader.”
LIZ NUGENT, author of Lying in Wait
“So rich in love, loss, blame, misunderstanding, secrets and betrayals this book has everything.”
SINÉAD MORIARTY, author of The Good Mother
“From big sky Arizona to an Ireland of ‘corners and clouds’, Noëlle Harrison leads us on a hypnotic dance across the decades. A vivid, gripping tale of family secrets and lost love.”
SANDRA IRELAND, author of Beneath the Skin
Joy Sheldon loves the plants that bloom in the desert but dreams too of the sea’s elemental wildness. Now, riven by terrible secrets, Joy embarks on a journey to seek her identity and to discover why the sea pulls at her heart.
Lewis Bell, a young graphic designer, is aiming for the big time if only he can keep his creative spark. But, as his talented girlfriend Marnie adds her own pressures, sixties Soho fast shows its darker side.
Drawn together, Joy and Lewis fly across the Atlantic to the Irish coast. She’s in search of a lost mother; he’s looking for a lost love. They need to make peace with the past, themselves and others. But the truths they encounter will transform everyone’s lives forever.
Bold, intimate and joyful. This glorious novel tells an unforgettable story of love’s true gravity.
Order your copy online here.