Sunday, May 15, 2011

Author Bites - Deb Caletti on Jerky Love

Suffice it to say, I love rebuttal books. I mean those written as an obvious and blatant contrast to something already out there. Stay by Deb Caletti is one of those books; an antithesis to all those vampire books that twist love so much it's no longer recognizable. Deb did an amazing job with Stay. So amazing that I asked her if she'd be willing to ramble a bit on it. And yay! She agreed. And I agree with everything Deb says about this blossom of obsessive love going on in the YA world. Hopefully you do too. Thank you so much for stopping by, Deb!

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against vampires. I am a little tired of vampires (andwerewolves and girls who are dead but not really dead), but I have nothing against them personally. Aside from the whole pesky blood sucking thing. But I am against destructive messages about love and relationships. Really against. So, after three hundred and thirteen pages, I’ve had my response to, yes, you might have guessed it, those vampire books.

STAY is about a young girl and her father who run to a remote beach town to escape her obsessive boyfriend. I wanted to take the reader inside Clara’s experience as she first falls in love and then falls apart after becoming involved with someone who “loves” her beyond all reason. And while it is primarily a story and not a message – a ghost story - what I do hope it says is that a possessive, intense, and jealous relationship is not romantic. It is not some giddy, ultimate height of devotion to wish for. It’s ugly, and pitiful. It makes you feel small and trapped. It is more about the other person’s fragile mental health than your capacity to enthrall. That kind of relationship is not about passion and great love – it’s about a sick insecurity that can turn dangerous.
“He wants me” is not “He loves me.”

And what I also hope it says is that anyone can find themselves in that place. Clara is “anyone.” I have a really hard time with the blame-the-victim folks (often other women, even more often very young women), who say, “Not me. Never me. She’s an idiot. I would NEVER…” It’s arrogant, unkind, and naïve. The slope from here to there is slippery and complex, and the effect one person can have on another – on their confidence, strength, and their ability to act in their own best interest – can be profound and dramatic.

So, please oh please, when you hear about some grand darkness and intensity that is called “love,” remember the truth about that particular fairy tale. In real life, those sorts of fangs hide something deeply disturbing and devastatingly pathetic. In real life, that sort of plotline can steal your very own sense of self. When you see that kind of vampire - in a book, in a movie, or in your own life - promise me something, dear, good readers. Promise me you’ll remember that there’s nothing romantic about a horror story.
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