I’m so pleased to welcome Katrina Jackson to the event today! During this event, we’ve talked a lot about HEA, but Katrina has written an excellent post on the value of HFN, or “happy for now.” Some romance stories demand a HFN ending, and they are valid and satisfying. Read on!
I am notoriously skeptical about the believability of an HEA at the end of a book. I tend to imagine all endings as happy for now, so I want to talk about why I love happy for HFN endings. I’m a firm believer in the fact that people enter and exit your life when and where they should. The former is easy to accept, when you make a new friend or meet someone who seems like a promising person to date, for instance. The latter is harder. My grandfather died when I was twenty and I struggled for years to accept that someone who was my rock, the center of my world, and the foundation for my family was there one day and gone the next. In the months and years that followed so many things changed for me, including the people around me. My friendships changed, I dated differently or sometimes not at all, and without my anchor, I began to drift farther and farther away from home.
I was unmoored.
So many of my favorite romance novels begin right at this moment in a character’s life; when everything they thought they knew to be true is not and they have to reconsider the world anew. In Alyssa Cole’s A Princess in Theory, Naledi must consider a world where royalty is real, she’s one of them, and most importantly, she has family after growing up alone in foster care. In Rebekah Weatherspoon’s Harbor Brooklyn, Vaughn and Shaw try to mourn loved ones while also processing the deceased’s betrayals. These are extreme examples (in both ways) but each of these books ends, not with a promise that the future is guaranteed (because these are characters who understand that is impossible to predict) but with a desire to try. That, for me, is the crux of a HFN, a belief that for however long these characters have together (maybe it’s a lifetime, maybe it’s one fantastic year), they’ll be on the same team. They found each other when they needed one another and even when they part (which is inevitable) they will be better for their time together.
What I needed at twenty were tools to become a person who didn’t have her grandfather standing behind her, mumbling ornery jokes only she could hear. All those new people who entered my life helped me develop them in their own unique ways. Not all the people who I met then stuck around and some people who exited returned. I learned a lot about life as I grappled with the aftermath of death, and it taught me that nothing lasts forever, not even the things you hope will. So, here’s to more HFNs!
Back in the Day by Katrina Jackson
Helping pack up his childhood home was going much easier than Amir expected. The only sticking point is the record collection his father Alonzo refuses to put in storage. When Amir asked his father why he needs to keep all those records with him, Alonzo offers to tell him a story instead.
Monterey Pop Festival
In 1967, Alonzo was a baby music reporter at the Village Voice on his first big assignment. By his side is photographer Ada Carr who is all brown skin, big afro and sharp tongue. He should be worried about his story, but all he can think about is the way Ada looks dancing to the music in the dusk, the stage lights illuminating her form. He knows love when he sees, or better yet hears, it.
Over the course of two weekends, over forty years apart, Alonzo imparts a soundtrack of love and life to Amir that bridges the past and present and they both learn how to say goodbye.
Recreational drug use
Katrina Jackson is an historian by day and a writer by weekend. She writes racially diverse and queer erotica, erotic romance and historical fiction. She enjoys 70s disco and good wine.