Introducing… Vanessa Savage

A few weeks ago, I woke in the middle of the night, sat up, heart pounding, a terrible question on my mind… Was I romantic enough to be a proper Romaniac? Or was I just a maniac? Should I put the Ro in brackets? Be a (Ro) maniac?

So I sat back and thought about my recently finished book, and the next book I want to write, and realized I was worrying about nothing. Yes, some of my stories might be dark, and yes, sometimes the love interests can be shoved to the sidelines while the heroines figure stuff out, but the stories are still full of love – some of it doomed and not all of it romantic, but enough for me to qualify…

While one book is resting between drafts, a new idea is already brewing and begging for my attention… characters are forming, and scenes are appearing in my mind. I keep seeing things when I’m out, potential settings for the new book that have me reaching for a pen.

I’m not inspired by exotic locations – I love reading about them, but looking at a beautiful beach, white sand and turquoise sea, doesn’t get my pen twitching.  Unless that’s a tear trickling from under the sunglasses of the girl on the sun lounger, unless the couple walking hand-in-hand through a flower-filled meadow have a dark secret they want to share. I like the shadows, I like writing about what goes on behind the smile, the closed doors. A lonely house, fog rolling in, an empty fairground … even when I try writing a rural idyll, I end up stumbling into a dark wood that just begs to hide a terrible secret…

But. But… I do like a happy ending.

However tortured and full of angst my characters are, I can’t leave them like that – I have to make sure things are going to get better. And all that dark, shadowy stuff – doesn’t it just make the light all the brighter when it comes?

I’m reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with my daughter at the moment. The early chapters are horribly bleak – it’s the middle of winter, snow is falling, the family is starving, they live in a hovel, Mr Bucket loses his job, Charlie has cabbage soup for supper every single day… but we are racing through the book, feeling Charlie’s pain, desperate to get to the bit where it all starts to get better for him… And how much more delicious it is when he finds that golden ticket, when he finds that fifty pence shining in the gutter. Hurray for Charlie Bucket! That’s my favourite moment in the book.

But imagine if the story had ended with him missing the fifty pence, never finding the golden ticket, nose pressed against the shop window, watching someone else find it while Charlie either slowly starves or freezes solid…

No, I don’t think so. No tragic love stories for me either, no Romeo and Juliet, no Wuthering Heights, no Tess of the d’Urbervilles. I’m not saying I don’t appreciate their literary merit – they are beautiful, haunting books, just not for me. My characters might start out troubled, in the shadows, but there’s light and magic in that empty fairground, there’s love hiding in the corners of the rusty caravan that shelters them from the rain, and after loving and nurturing my heroine all the way through, I am not going to kill her off.

A friend of mine loves nothing better than a good weepie – she’ll stock up on tissues and sob her way from cover to cover. But me? I don’t see the attraction. I have to have a happy ending. Real life doesn’t always have that; the bad guys don’t always get caught, people die. But I read books to escape real life. If someone recommends  a book and tells me I’ll need a tissue at the end, I don’t want to read that book. I don’t mind a good cry in the middle, or at the start but at the end … there has to be at least the hope of a happy ending.

So, here is my story with the requisite happy ending:

Once upon a time there was a woman who wanted to be a writer, so she joined the RNA New Writers’ Scheme and met some other lovely, if maniacal, writers and they become friends and called themselves the Romaniacs and all lived happily ever after…

What a lovely, happy ending.

What ending do you need from a story? Fairytale happy? Or happiness-on-the-horizon? Or is a good, tragic, Romeo and Juliet ending the one for you?

29 thoughts on “Introducing… Vanessa Savage

  1. Hm – gave this one some thought and decided that I like a happiness-on-the-horizon ending. I often change the ending of films etc in my head if they don;t meet my exacting standards. Ha Ha. Great blog post. Happy writing.

    • Hi Lizzie – I like those endings too. A Gone With the Wind type ending … I just know Scarlett’s going to find Rhett tomorrow and get her happy-ever-after! Thanks for stopping by and commenting…

  2. Excellent thought provoking blog, Vanessa, and I love your happy ending with the Romaniacs! I’m a bit of a ‘tortured soul’ so I know exactly where you’re coming from. However, just thinking of some of my favourite books – Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Wuthering Heights, One Day, English Patient, The Reader they all have tragic endings, so I suppose that answers the question!


    • Thanks Debbie! As a writer with a penchant for a tortured soul or two, I really should like a good tragic ending, shouldn’t I?
      Vanessa x

  3. Totally agree. I need a happy ending, or the promise of one. Jane Eyre always won out over Wuthering Heights for me because the latter was just too bleak, too heartbreaking, too overwhelmingly SAD!! Jane suffered, Rochester suffered, but in the end they found each other and got their happy ending. Really, life is tough enough. When I read a novel I want to leave it feeling that the world can be a good place and that some people do get to find true love and happiness. Nothing like closing a book with total contented satisfaction that the characters we have grown to care about so much are going to be all right. I can’t imagine ever writing a novel that doesn’t give my characters that, I love them too much!

    • Exactly how I feel, Sharon! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.
      Vanessa x

  4. I’m a happy ending person, too! I don’t mind dark, and angst, and tears, and contemplation, even the occasional bit of death-and-destruction… but there’s got to be a happy ending! Lovely to meet you, Vanessa, and great introductory feature! XX

  5. Great post! I prefer a bitter-sweet ending, actually. But in my writing, it’s always a happy ending. I tried to do a bitter-sweet ending once and it didn’t go over so well!

  6. Hi Talli – lovely to see you here and thanks for commenting! I guess you’re not planning a ‘and then they all died’ ending for your next book, then?! I sometimes try to make my endings too fluffy and happy, which doesn’t always work with my writing style…
    Vanessa x

  7. Vanessa, it’s so good to see you (I know we need to catch up in person – I haven’t forgotten!).

    Yes, I love a happy ending too. And even if I’m not reading a romance, I like a satisfactory resolution at the end i.e. the bad guy does get his comeuppance.

    I read the whole of Wuthering Heights wondering where the romance was. It’s a tragedy not a romance! For me I have to love the hero, and Heathcliff was terrible.

    I sometimes wonder, with how I am in real life, if I should be writing romance either. But I think it’s because life sometimes lacks the romance we all really long for (because reality gets in the way) that I like writing and reading it in books.

    Good luck with your books! I can’t wait to read. I’m intrigued.

  8. Hi Teresa, lovely to see you here! Thanks for commenting – I agree that real life sometimes lacks the romance we look for in books… except for the real-life stories told here by my fellow Romaniacs, of course! Plenty of romance there…
    Vanessa x

  9. Hi Rachel, thanks for visiting and commenting! Thomas Hardy was very fond of killing people off, wasn’t he? I still have nightmares that I’m being made to study Return of the Native again … maybe I’m remembering it wrongly, but there did seem to be an awful lot of bodies scattered about Egdon Heath.
    Vanessa x

  10. Vanessa, I really enjoyed your post.Certain books (Thomas Hardy’s among them) remind me so much of schooldays. I read everything demanded of me but mixed in my mum’s Mills and Boon novels, often hidden under the bedclothes and enjoyed by torchlight. I think this ‘menu’ plus some of my own experiences has resulted in the combination of dark happenings and happy endings within my own writing. Hope to catch up with you this year, maybe in Cardiff at Evonne’s book signing?

  11. Hi Toni, lovely to see you here and many thanks for commenting! Yes, I’ll be at Evonne’s book launch – it will be great to see you there. As to books … living in the middle of nowhere with no money for books, I read a strange combination of books as a child and teenager – a mixture of my mum’s Catherine Cookson and Mills and Boon books, and my dad’s Alistair Maclean and Stephen King books. Yes … guess that could explain the combination of darkness and happy endings in my writing too!
    Vanessa x

  12. I love a happy ending, but sometimes enjoy an unexpected, dark ending. It probably depends on my mood.

  13. Hi Debs, thanks for visiting and commenting – I agree mood plays a big part in what book I choose to read and it also tends to have an effect on my writing. I like to write arguments and darker emotional scenes after a stressful day; get it all out on paper – which makes me wonder about the lives of writers who write really dark, tragic stuff!
    Vanessa x

  14. Great post, Vanessa. I’m a hopeful-and-heading-in-the-right-direction ending person, I reckon. I want to be comfortable that people are going to be happy, even if they still have a bit to do to get there! x

  15. Hello Elle! Yes, it’s nice to have the full-blown happy-ever-after, but the hopefully-happy-soon ending gives the reader scope to imagine the end of the story as they want it and the story continues beyond the last page. Thanks so much for visiting and commenting.
    Vanessa x

  16. Vanessa, that was a wonderful introduction. And I like the sound of your books – some dark drama with a happy ending. Perfect.

  17. Thank you for your lovely comment! It’s nice to see you here – thanks for visiting and I look forward to chatting with you more on twitter!
    Vanessa x

  18. Hi Vanessa, good to ‘see’ you again! ooh, I did enjoy your post; I love reading about the sparks that ignite the fire of a writer’s imagination. All best wishes with your work!

  19. I’m definitely with you, Vanessa, absolutely hate tragic love stories and unhappy endings! I always check before buying a book because I don’t want to read another ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ or ‘Gone With the Wind’. Yes, they’re great stories, but I always wanted to rewrite their endings – the sadness was so unnecessary! Glad you agreee 🙂

    • Although at least with the classics, you know if it’s a tragedy or not and can avoid them. The worst is being surprised by a tragic ending. I went to see One Day without reading the book first, expecting a lovely, fluffy love story. Then, aaargh! Bus! 🙂
      Thanks so much for visiting and commenting!
      Vanessa xx

  20. Hi Sarah, lovely to see you here and thanks for the comment! I agree – for me, reading is all about escapism, and I like to be smiling at the end of a book, even if I’ve shed a tear or two halfway through!
    Vanessa x

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