Have you ever wondered why amnesia stories are so popular in romance and why they work so darned well? All of us have things in our life that we treasure and others that we wish we could forget, but amnesia stories push that concept to the edge. Let’s hear what three Escape authors have to say on the subject.
Nina Blake, author of Forget Me Not
What drew you to write an amnesia story?
I’ve always been drawn to extremes and amnesia is an extreme. On one hand it’s much more rare than we’ve been led to believe by movies and the media but, on the other hand, the reason it’s in the movies is because it’s so fascinating and opens up so many questions. What would it be like to wake up and have no idea where you are, where you’ve been or who you are? How would you feel if you couldn’t recognise anyone, for there to be no familiar faces? And how would it feel for the people who care about you?
Confession time – when I wrote Forget Me Not, I didn’t think I was writing an amnesia story, silly though that sounds. For me, the book was based on my love for my husband. Sometimes I feel a stab of fear if I think about what it would be like to lose him and that’s where the story came from. I wondered what would happen if you lost the person you loved but then had the chance to have them back again? What if they were different? What if they didn’t want you any more?
Why is it that music features strongly in Forget Me Not?
I always have music playing when I write. That may be one reason. The Beatles song Oh Darlin’ plays a significant role because when that song is played in the story, it’s a turning point for my heroine, Claire. She realises she can never have her husband back because whether his memory returns or not, he’s still going to leave her. Also, this is another area where my husband inspired me because he’s an expert in useless information and rock trivia. I’m still not sure if it’s a good or a bad thing when he knows all the answers on Rockwiz!
Speaking of amnesia, what would you like to forget?
I wish I could forget how bad I was at sport as a kid. I couldn’t run, catch or throw. I still can’t! School sports carnival day was a killer. Everyone had to participate in at least one event so every year I had to go in the running race and every year I came second last. I was always grateful there was one girl who was worse than me and she was always behind me.
Elise K. Ackers, author of Unforgettable.
Amnesia can sometimes give a person a second chance. Did clearing your character’s mental slate give them an opportunity for change?
In Unforgettable, Connor Abbott’s head injury wipes years from his life. He loses the successes and trials of friends and family, milestones and setbacks at work, and all conscious trace of the woman he loved. But what first appears as a tragedy soon transforms into a second chance. Not just for Connor, but for the woman who wishes she could forget him.
Connor’s supervisor, Emma Kitchener, has a curious amount of familiarity with his life, but when he asks for her help all she can offer are filtered truths.
Before Connor’s accident, the pair were secretly in love but their relationship ended when he caught her out in a lie and couldn’t forgive the deception. Now they’re drawn to one another again and Emma’s facing an ethical dilemma: protect her secret and lie her way into a happy ever after, or confess and lose him again?
In Unforgettable, the amnesia trope is a much longed for reset button. It’s an opportunity to change behaviour, and to better navigate a path already travelled before. Connor’s mental slate was cleared, but his emotional one was not. Emma still resonates with him, and without all the mistakes of their past clouding his judgement, he has the opportunity to change what it will take for him to walk away.
What drew you to write a story with amnesia?
The amnesia trope is an exciting one because of the gross imbalance of power. One person is armed with the past, one is not. One person can move forward having learned from previous mistakes, and one is in many ways starting again. Writing Unforgettable taught me that there can be many victims of a single head injury, and many opportunities for self-discovery.
Amnesia gave my characters a second chance, but there was still an enormous temptation to let history repeat itself. In Emma’s case, she was responsible for rebuilding Connor’s sense of identity. That level of responsibility intrigued me. Add in that an ex is in the driver’s seat, and the stakes become even higher!
What memory/memories would you least like to lose?
So much of my past is backed up on hard drives – pictures, videos, diaries, stories – and I have a close circle of friends and family who could put the most important pieces of my life back together with me. So maybe my ideas. Plans for my life. Books yet to be written. Complex outlines stored in my head that I would be bereft to lose. There are so many of them and I’m so passionately attached to each – it would be losing a part of myself that nobody could help me get back.
Nicole Flockton, author of Bound By Her Ring
What drew you to write a story with amnesia?
I wouldn’t say I was drawn to writing a story with an amnesia trope more that it found me. I was just starting out on my writing journey and I had an image of a woman dressed in a gorgeous dress in a room surrounded by people but alone, standing apart from the party going on around her. Immediately I was asking the question why? Why is she standing alone? Why isn’t she joining in with the festivities?
The character of Jasmine and her amnesia evolved from there—she was alone because her husband wasn’t there, standing by her side and the reason he wasn’t there was because she couldn’t remember him, and it seemed no one else did either.
But standing on the steps of the ballroom was a sexy man impeccably dressed in a tux watching her. He didn’t look happy to see her, but he knew he wanted to get close to her again.
With those thoughts and images not leaving me alone, Bound by Her Ring was born.
Do you like amnesia as a trope?
Yes, I have to say amnesia stories have always been a favourite of mine to read. The characters can, like Elise said, start over. They have the opportunity to be a better person. To change their destiny. One of my all time favourite books is a book by Sandra Marton called “The Second Mrs Adams”, the characters were on the verge of a divorce until the heroine lost her memory and turned back into the woman she was when she first met the hero. Of course, she had changed her personality on the advice of another woman who wanted the hero for herself. It’s a book I can read over and over again.
I also remember, way back in the late ‘80’s amnesia was a great tool for the hero to ‘trick’ the heroine into thinking they were married so he could achieve his goal of having her. Amnesia is such a great plot device. I think I might have to write another one!
What memory/memories would you most like to lose?
Oh there are so many things I’d like to forget. I’ve done many an embarrassing thing. One memory could be when I followed my school girl crush onto the dance floor at a school dance, and then having him leave me standing on the dance floor and all the cool kids snickering at me.
Or it could be the time when I was in 7th grade and it was the end of 1st term assembly and the Principal announced the names of students who had improved academically during the term. Naïve me thought, when my name was called, I was going to get a certificate—umm no. I walked up and the Principal took pity on me and shook my hand, but man I wish I could relive that day and just keep sitting on my butt.