Miss Bates had the privilege and good luck to be able to ask Ms Knox a niggling question about “Making It Last.” It focuses on one of Miss Bates’s favourite lines. The result is that Ms Knox’s answer serves as an interesting counterpoint to Miss Bates’s review and it’s much better written!
The MissBatesian Question:
One of my favourite lines in MAKING IT LAST was Amber’s caustic comment about what she takes on while Tony pursues “his single-minded notion of male responsibility.” Can you tell us how this single great little phrase drives the conflict of your novella? How it shapes Tony and Amber’s marriage?
Ms Knox’s response:
Ha! Thank you for asking this question. Nobody ever asks me this. I think there is a way in which male prerogative — and this ubiquitous, unkillable notion about what it is men are supposed to do versus what it is women are supposed to do — can walk right into the romance novel unquestioned, and I will admit, it drives me crazy.
Making It Last is a story about a husband who deals with stress and anxiety by working too much (way, way too much) and has ceased to communicate with his wife because he’s pretty sure she can handle everything at home. She has so far, after all. It’s also a story about a wife who deals with stress and anxiety by keeping quiet, juggling what has to be juggled, handling what she thinks is hers to handle, and drowning in her own head. She does that because she’s pretty sure her husband is just her husband, and nothing will ever change.
They are both making bad choices. Both of them. And they both have good reasons for their bad choices. Both of them.
What I see sometimes, in reader reactions to this novella and another novel I wrote in which the hero worked way too much (*cough* Along Came Trouble *cough*) is a refusal to put any share of the blame on the hero for this behavior. He has to do this, some readers say. She shouldn’t resent him for it. That’s the way the world is.
I don’t think that’s the way the world is. I think it’s the way we make the world, and in Making It Last, it’s the way Tony and Amber have allowed their world to be made. And if they were happy, that would be that, but they’re unhappy. This world they’ve created is not working for them. And so the action of the story becomes about what decisions they have to make — what realizations they need to get to — in order to reach a place where they are ready to interrogate their behavior and start taking steps toward different decisions, which will lead them into a different marriage, and one that works better for both of them.
And, here is a very interesting question that Ms Knox addresses to us:
What do you think about “male privilege” in romance? Are you harder on female than male characters?