Sure, you may ask what does the brawny fantasy hero Conan has to do with romance stories but I’ll come to that.
On the 22nd of January 116 years ago Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan and one of my favorite writers, was born. He wrote his first story when he was ten and started writing professionally at the age of fifteen. For him, it was the easiest way to earn money in times of Depression. For me, earning money with writing is not for the faint of heart, but maybe the times have changed.
“My sole desire in writing is to make a reasonable living,” he said. “I may cling to many illusions, but I am not ridden by the illusion that I have anything wonderful or magical to say, or that I would amount to anything particularly if I did say it. I have no quarrel with art-for-art’s sakers. On the contrary, I admire their work. But my pet delusions tend in other directions.”
And yet, he has created one of the most famous and striking characters in literature, known to a lot of people throughout the world. This brings me to a common conundrum and a question – should books be written for the sake of the art, or should they be entertaining? And why not both? Why should anyone put up with bad writing to read something interesting, and why should anyone tolerate a boring book no matter how well written? I believe they shouldn’t and that it is the job of the writer to tell a good story skillfully, which is what I strive to do. What do you think? I’d love to hear your opinion!
Inadvertently I suppose, or maybe not, Robert E. Howard has written one of the greatest romance stories ever. It is called “The Queen of the Black Coast” and tells about the adventures and love of Belit and Conan. If you haven’t read it, and you like fantasy and romance, you should. It’s worth reading if only for the dialogue between Belit and Conan, in which they talk about life, death, and beliefs, and which ends with her famous words:
“…My love is stronger than any death…My heart is welded to your heart, my soul is part of your soul! Were I still in death and you fighting for life, I would come back from the abyss to aid you…”
If that’s not romantic, then I don’t know what is.