Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work


FOTCM Member
I've been asked a number of times about the books that I was referencing in the last session with Cs. I have hesitated to write about it for a number of reasons, the main one being that not everyone can weed when they read and some people miss the crux of the matter by focusing either on the forest or the trees. So, what I am going to try to do is be as explicit as possible and explain the sequence of events that led me to certain speculations about how reading certain fiction can help to focus the mind and emotions in such a way that it might possibly facilitate a reality shift.

When I finished writing my latest book, "From Paul to Mark: Paleochristianity", (which is still in editing, stay tuned), I was utterly, totally, comprehensively, exhausted in body and particularly in mind. The last couple of years of massive effort to try to whip many years of research into some kind of comprehensible form just took a HUGE amount of energy. At the end, I just wanted to read something light and relax my brain.

In the past, when I wanted relaxing reading, I would turn to Agatha Christie and her ilk (early 20th century detective story authors), OR Georgette Heyer who wrote light historical romances. I wasn't quite in the mood for the detective stories, but light romance seemed appealing - you know, some clever dialogue, a little comedy, happy ending. I found a few Heyer books on amazon kindle that I hadn't read, and they were cheap, so I got them. (My favorite is "The Quiet Gentleman"; "Sylvester" and "Devil's Cub" are next favorites; but all of them are highly entertaining for a mind desiring light, somewhat comedic, romantic entertainment).

But it is not the Georgette Heyer books that I was referring to in the session.

What happened was this: after purchasing a few Heyer books on kindle, amazon began to recommend "similar" books. There were two or three on the page of recommendations. I was very put off by the cheesy covers and titles but the description of one looked interesting, so I thought I would get it in spite of my revulsion toward the covers and titles.
The book in question was entitled “The Beast of Beswick” and appeared to be a spin on the “beauty and the beast” idea. By the cover, it looked just like a “bodice ripper”, as such literature is often described. Well, what the heck, I thought… it might be relaxing.

It wasn’t relaxing; it was, in fact, rather steamy. Nothing like Georgette Heyer’s relaxed comedic romances that were well-researched and historically accurate. The “Beast of Beswick” was rather short on historical accuracy and full of anachronisms. That was quite irritating. However, I noticed one thing: the plight of the protagonists was rather engaging, tragic even, the hero having been badly scarred both outwardly and inwardly by war wounds. I couldn’t help but feel enormous sympathy for the character. And I realized that, as a character in a book, a cheesy book for all that, the hero was rather well-developed, if unusual. I also realized that I was emotionally engaged on behalf of this poor guy and quite glad for the happy ending (all such books have happy endings).

At the end of this book, there was a preview of another book by a different author, a book that I never, ever, would willingly have read based on the UBER-cheesy title. But I idly read a few words, and was hooked. The title was (shudder): “My Darling Duke.”

What the heck? What’s with all the dooks?

Anyway, this book had an even more tragic hero: a man so badly injured that he had been a paraplegic for years after his injury, but had struggled to regain some mobility by sheer will-power; nevertheless, he was impotent. How the heck can you have a romance about an impotent guy? So, I clicked “purchase.”

This second book was very strange. Some aspects of it were so badly written that my irritation levels went to “dangerous irritation overload”, but at the same time, other parts were utterly haunting. And, while the subject of handicapped sex was really pertinent to the story, I thought that the final sex episode was a bit gratuitous.

In any event, after reading that harrowing story (with happy ending), and being very emotionally engaged with the hero’s plight (didn’t like the heroine very much), I noticed that I thought about the main story line quite a bit, wondering how much better it would have been if a more attentive writer had taken it in hand. ‘

I looked around on amazon kindle a bit and noticed that there appeared to be a whole sub-genre of these types of stories, so, I began to sample a few from different authors. What I found was that not all of them were dealing with physical injuries, but also with apparently emotional issues. I noticed a few other things. The stories were all about love conquering difficulties; about men acting the way men ought to act toward strong women; about faithfulness, love of home and children, family, honor, honesty, not being ashamed of emotions, and so on. I realized that a lot of the behaviors depicted in the stories were actually good role models for anyone (and the villains were usually pretty well described, too). And all of them were emotionally engaging, some more than others I guess depending on whether or not I really liked the protagonists. I realized that the values represented in these books were actually quite elevated; possibly the historical element had something to do with that; it was highly idealized.

I began to wonder why this sort of thing was apparently so popular with at least a goodly number of readers? There was, apparently, enough demand for it that some publishers had a stable of authors turning these things out, some of them even a bit formulaic. But then, there were other, more independent authors, who were producing some darn good stories, cast in often ridiculous “dooks and earls” settings of the pre-regency, regency, and post-regency eras.

It occurred to me that people must find such stories a good escape from a horrible reality, either their personal lives or the world-at-large. But then, I also thought about the fact that, if people weren’t just escaping into such literature, but rather LEARNING from it, and putting some of what they learned into practice, a very different result would be obtained than just going off into la-la land. Because, it sure appeared to me that many of the problems that were set up as the plot of the stories were problems that many people deal with in one way or another, and a few of the authors were darned good psychologists with excellent insight.

One of the books that stood out was “The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie” which is about the romance of an autistic guy with a phenomenal memory who was locked in an institution by his father as a child and then later taken out by his brother when the father was dead. The story was harrowing, extremely emotionally engaging, and, again, with a happy ending. That book was the first volume of an entire saga about that family and each one dealt with different problems and had a lot of adventures along the way. The characters were very well developed, and even their sex lives reflected their characters which I thought was an interesting touch. And speaking of sex lives, men and women both could learn a lot about a healthy sexual relationship from these books.

It was later when I was pondering the emotional engagement that I made the connection with “hyperkinetic sensate” which was how the C’s described the Wave’s effects on human beings. I began to wonder what if people were engaged in stimulating the RIGHT emotions during this process? And thus, my reference to the books in the last session.

Now, by this time, I’ve sampled quite a few books by a dozen authors or so. I will say that there were some that were so bad, I deleted them from my kindle after reading just one page. Some of them are little more than porn and I don’t think that reading porn is at all beneficial. But there are so many others that are really amazing stories despite some of the cheezy titles and awful cover art!

Authors are Mary Balogh, Jennifer Ashley, Anna Campbell, Anne Gracie, Alice Chetwynd Ley, Elisa Braden, Emily Hendrickson, Jess Michaels, Scarlett Scott, Dorothy Mack, Laura Kinsale, Georgett Heyer, of course, and a few others. Several of these authors have written series books where the characters and some of the situations overlap in the set of books, and reading them in order is best.

So, that’s the story of my recent experiment in generating beneficial emotional states.

I am reminded of a dream I had once long ago and mentioned in the sessions that may be related to this idea I have of stimulating positive emotional states via reading:

7 Nov 1998

Q: Okay, I talked about my dream about the explosion in the
sky and the sky being full of UFOs and the guy coming out
of the woods in the jeep...
A: Sort of like George Bush's "thousand points of light,"
Q: So, you mean that my thousands of little space craft...
A: Yes.
Q: So, George Bush's Thousand Points of Light are connected
to a space invasion... One thing I noticed about these
beings in these space craft, was that they could not
respond to anything that was not in their program... and
that this was their weakness. Was that an accurate
A: Yes when one is really a programmed biocyberprobe.
Q: What was the key to the guy who was off in the woods
drinking and hunting and missed the whole programming
thing? What made him immune to programming?
A: Altered reality. Also, alcohol removes fear,
intimidation, and inhibition.
Q: Any other key from that dream?
A: No.

So, it seems that it might be possible to assist in altering reality by undertaking activities that remove fear, intimidation, inhibition and even entering into such realities via positive dissociation. These books, with all the qualities I’ve described above, appear to be a darn good way to do that. It’s not “heavy” literature, but entertainment of a very specific sort that engages emotions and depicts very positive role models and behaviors.

Note: All the suggested books are in the Romance novel List sheet.
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Thank you Laura for sharing! I’m intrigued and feel a new level of excitement, and it’s not just about a new book recommendation. It’s about the act of making a change for the better that excites me.
Positive dissociation, yes please. I look forward to more ideas like this!
Thanks a lot for the suggestions Laura,

there’s something very inspiring to all of us from reading or watching stories, and the worse Hollywood gets with their agendas, the more people might have to look elsewhere for these forms of inspiration.

It’s very interesting that you could learn the exact and precise steps to become a “hero” and not feel them as important or crucial, but if someone tells you, or you read, a heroic story, that could truly change the way you see life and change for good.

Because with the state of the world being what it is, and this immense Goliath of a petty tyrant that seems to be at everyone’s door step, one could ignore it or shut it down, or one could face it with grace... heroically.

And it’s a good form of rebellion, embody all the things that we’re being told don’t matter, honesty, honor, trust, love and loyalty, modesty and so on. All the virtues that seem to be sacrificed first when tragedy strikes.
J'avais peur que ces livres ne soient pas traduits en Français mais si...
Je viens d'en commander deux sur Amazon France...
C'est tout à fait mon style romantique et chevaleresque, je vais pouvoir rêver en attendant de rencontrer mon Prince Charmant (je croyais que cela n'existait plus)...
Merci Laura...
Des fleurs dans la tourmente
Kinsale, Laura
La magie de Noël
Balogh, Mary

I was afraid these books wouldn't be translated into French, but if...
I just ordered two from Amazon France...
It's quite my romantic and chivalrous style, I'll be able to dream while waiting to meet my Prince Charming (I thought that didn't exist anymore)...
Thank you Laura...
Flowers in turmoil
Kinsale, Laura
The magic of Christmas
Balogh, Mary
Thank you for posting and I was so hoping that this was the direction you were going to take! My mom read a lot of romances in her life time and as I was grounded a lot as a young kid and teenager, I would sift through them to find ones that I wanted to read. I also preferred historical romances and oftentimes would find myself absorbed in the stories. While relating to the protagonist with emotional issues whether it was from the male or female, then continuing through their journey to work through them and finally the end where they have found their happy ending, was my way of escaping.

Reading enough of them over the years and then later reading more of the murder suspense ones with the elements of the romance intertwined made me feel like the 'ideal' was more fictitious than the stories themselves. I just couldn't see anything of what the writers described as love in any real relationships that I had observed much less been a part of. I was so frustrating as a young woman to know and hope of finding these ideals only to see what was really out there was a sad parody at best. At least now I have a much better understanding as to why these ideals are not common place today.

I also agree that much can be learned of love, relationships and perseverance from reading these types of books, even more today in spite of the fictitious nature. I'm just not so sure if the males would be interested though... I've never seen one read this type of book before. It would be interesting.:lkj:;-)

Certainly. Something's up.

Some guy said that imagination is more important than knowledge. This is true, because, knowledge has its limits; one thing knows, others we don't.

However, imagination, when is correctly use, has no limits; and this is wonderful.

Literature can stimulate the imagination; the rest job to do is required to do by the individual. In a certain sense, we are the product of other/others' imagination and now the baton has been given to us.
I also agree that much can be learned of love, relationships and perseverance from reading these types of books, even more today in spite of the fictitious nature. I'm just not so sure if the males would be interested though... I've never seen one read this type of book before. It would be interesting.:lkj:;-)

Well, I finally provoked Ark into reading one and he can hardly put it down. For awhile, he just asked me about the plots and I would tell him the story. He liked that. Then, I would read some entertaining passages to him (usually funny/risque) and he would laugh. Then, I told him the plot of one particular book and since he was looking for something to read before sleeping, I gave it to him and suggested he try it.

The kids were teasing him about it today and asked him if the younger guys should read it and he said "naw, young guys don't like reading about real men and this guy in the story is a REAL MAN."

Many times I think that if something can be imagined, it is possible that we are creating it by giving it a new "reality". I particularly prefer stories based on real events, but I realized that every story that is created, somehow passes into our realm and becomes real through books and our conscious reading, and surely coincides with the life of some human being on this planet.

There are so many stories... Even every imagined story has in its components parts of the creator's experience. We cannot create by isolating ourselves from our own being, we create with what we are and surely in the stories we tell there are small parts of ourselves or fragments of someone else's experience.

Well, with science fiction we see that what was merely in the realm of imagination, today is found to be a reality that we are just discovering. We have yet to tele-transport! It is incredible how much fiction technology is being implemented or at least studied in our present. But as Laura says, we must be careful and "pull the rug out from under us when we read".

Thank you Laura for your recommendations!
I've read those sort of books before (with Fabio on the covers!) and currently have a few series that I've been hooked on. I do audiobooks now and I love them, the narrator (at least good ones) act out the emotions of each character with different voices and it's like you're watching a play with your eyes closed. I do like those with a slight bit of a mystery to the plot, but as you say, the male characters know how to treat a woman and some of the relationships and situations are extremely complex.

I will look into the authors you suggest. :-)
I think I will buy something by Georgette Heyer. The comments at Amazon are really good about her style and stories, they even say that she is better then Agatha Christie. The epoch looks interesting, it is fun to travel in time. To feel people, human relations, stories where passions are high. It is very important specially now that in this new paradigme that they want to create humans relations are nil, passion is nil, love is nil, etc. When we read stories like that we surely feel comforted.

Here is one comment I think is very good about one of her books by a reader:

Georgette Heyer writes well, and her characters and dialogue make much better reading than anything Agatha Christie produced. I am of an age (approaching 80) to appreciate what younger readers may well find dated by today's standards, but there WAS life before World War II!
The last couple of years of massive effort to try to whip many years of research into some kind of comprehensible form just took a HUGE amount of energy. At the end, I just wanted to read something light and relax my brain.
Thanks for the recommendations Laura.

My favorite book in that category is "The Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss.

It is almost certain that most of the people here in the forum have read it, since the "magic" spills over all the Threads.;-)
Thanks Laura for your insightful analysis of romantic comedies. They are comfortable portal into our most primitive need for bonding to our noble ideas personified by the romantic other. I cringe at the steamy ones since the author usually lacks depth of character development. My subcategory is the mystical romantic dramedies, I enjoy the thrill of magical story-line enhancements. It's a vacation from the anxieties of the current death throws of the dying god's of darkness.

"The Dutch House" by Ann Patchett was my latest stumbled upon great read.

I too find that books do help clear my limitations and behavior ignorance. I learn how to behave more openly and honestly after carefully analyzing the way the characters handled their conflicts and interplay. It is like character role playing.
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