When you write a romance book for teens entitled ‘Soulmates’, there are going to be some instant misconceptions about what that book is like.
As I was writing it, I was prepared to challenge the conceptions we hold about love, about soulmates and –well – about romance novels really. That was what I wanted the book to do.
What I wasn’t prepared for was how that challenging the concept of love in my writing, actually challenged my personal perceptions too.
Here is what I learnt about love, whilst I was in the process of dismantling it.
Believing in soulmates is like having a faith
I thought, naively maybe, that the concept of Soulmates was up for debate. That none of us really ‘knew’, that it was a fun idea to chat about down the pub with a glass of vino.
Then I met some people who did believe in soulmates. And, to them, even suggesting otherwise is practically offensive. It is not a belief they want challenged. They, in fact, feel sorry for you for even doubting. Because a belief is a belief – and if there’s no scientific evidence to suggest otherwise – then it’s a faith. If you look the word up in the dictionary, it says faith is the belief in something ‘based on spiritual conviction, rather than proof’. This is honestly how people feel about soulmates – especially if they believe the person they’re with is their One.
So – despite my own agnostic views – I’ve learnt it’s important to treat the concept with sensitivity and tact.
Love itself is so complex and far-fetched, you couldn’t make it up
So I had my book concept – you find your soulmate, the world ends. I just needed to stand it up….not the easiest task. I spent weeks angsting, trying to work out how the heck I could make this plausible.
The answer came from love itself.
We don’t think of love as a biological process. You don’t rock up to a first date and ask: ‘So, do you like the smell of my pheromones? Do you think we’ll produce a healthy offspring?’ You ask them questions about their beliefs, their passions, their attitudes – you want insight into the soul of a person, not their chromosomes.
But love is scientific, and once I started researching it I had my mind blown by all sorts of crazy biology. Here’s a small fact for instance (more are in the book) – being in love increases your pain threshold. How mad is that?
And when you get into the parts of love that science can’t explain – like how romantic love exists in every single culture we’ve identified on this earth but we’re not sure why…well, the Real World triumphed over my humble imagination.
That this question will break your brain
What if soulmates are real, but you don’t believe because you’ve just not met yours yet?
This was posed to me by a young reader, and it was like being rugby tackled by cupid. Ask this question to yourself? Think of your partner…. it kinda hurts, doesn’t it?