In contemporary romances, there’s still world building

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

I like this. The phrase “world building” is associated with fantasy stories such as Game Of Thrones, but really, all stories need world building. To think that a story doesn’t need world building because it is set in contemporary times is to give too much status to writing about contemporary times, when in fact writing about contemporary times should simply be seen as a genre like any other.

Another thing I thought was cool was how it felt like the world I live in, in that it was diverse and it wasn’t an issue, in the sense there had to be a plot around the fact that this is a multicultural group of people. There are things that are involved with that but it’s not an “issue” book. How did you approach that aspect of the book as you were writing? Did you actively think about it?

I think it was mostly organic. You look around the community—and I’ve lived in so many different places. I’ve lived in mostly white communities and I’ve lived in small towns and I’ve lived in huge metropolises. So, in my eyes, we’re all just sort of here. It wouldn’t occur to me to be like, I’m going to create this multicultural group of people, because that’s just people. I look at my friend group and that’s just what my friend group looks like.

Hopefully my books reflect that reality, because I think the easiest way to get jerked out of any book is when the reader goes, but wait, that’s not my world. The world building is broken. And in contemporary romances, there’s still world building. You have to create a world that looks like the world we live in. And sometimes that’s even harder, because there’s no room for error.

So, yeah, I think mostly it was organic. I knew I wanted the friendship between Nicholas and Livvy’s grandfather to be rooted in—her grandfather was imprisoned in Japanese internment camps because he was Japanese American and Nicholas’s grandfather was their family’s friend. They held a lot of their possessions for them while they were interned, which was sort of a common thing, to be like, here are my non-Japanese American friends, please just hold our possessions or as much as you can for us. I wanted that deep, deep bond. Everything just sort of sprang out from there.

The second book, Wrong to Need You, actually was very surreal to write, because the heroine is Muslim. She’s Pakistani American. And the hero is the grandson of a Japanese internment camp survivor. And I was actually writing it right when all the Muslim ban stuff was happening. I did not intend it to be that topical, but it was something that definitely influenced the book.

The second book is not an issue book at all, but it is layered in there and I’m proud of that part of it. They’re meant to be contemporary romance, and this is contemporary life for a lot of people right now.

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