A million girls would kill for the chance to meet The Point, but Nina’s not one of them.
She’s the new assistant to the lead singer’s diva fiancée, and she knows it’s going to suck. She quickly learns that being with the hottest band on the planet isn’t as easy as it looks: behind the scenes, the boys are on the verge of splitting up. Tasked with keeping an eye on four gorgeous but spoiled rock stars, Nina’s determined to stick it out – and not fall for any of them
Boy rescues Girl –
The ending I didn’t want for Love Song
by Sophia Bennett
So – romance and feminism – how does it work?
There’s the Mills & Boon fantasy, of course, when stressed-out women dream of being swept off their feet by billionaires and taken care of in the bedroom and elsewhere, which is perfectly fine … as fantasy. But what about if you want to write about real girls and women, in real situations, who need to retain control of their lives? After all, the billionaire can love you and dump you and that’s no happy ending at all.
I’ve always thought of Jane Austen as a feminist writer, and loved her for it. Certainly, the girls in her books are out to marry the best man they can – but that’s because they have no choice. If they want to have any place in society at all, they need to be married. Once they do marry, all their rights and property will pass to their husband. So their mission, if they choose to accept it, is to find the man who will least mess up their lives. I think of all her books as an essay on the compromises women are and aren’t prepared to make to keep what little control they can. It’s love, but not as we know it these days, luckily.
As a teenager, I loved Jane Eyre, because I found it surprisingly sexy, but looking back it makes me feel uncomfortable. Jane worships Mr Rochester as ‘her master’. Ugh. Now I write for teens, and today most of the girls I talk to are into fantasy and dystopia. There are plenty of strong, feisty female role-models there, who are out to save their society and don’t need much male help to do it, which is fantastic, but if the story becomes a love triangle, I feel my spirits sinking. Is the sparky heroine going to be knocked off course by choosing between the brave, noble boy and the dark, mysterious one? I love it when that doesn’t happen, like in the first Hunger Games, when sure, the dilemma was there, but the action was all political.
And then along came Frozen. Don’t get me started on the tiny waists and teetering heels, but the love stories were totally on point. It was all about the sisters. A prince you’ve only just fallen in insta-love with isn’t going to save you, Anna. In fact, you’re going to be the one doing the saving, because you’re brave and committed, and you’re the only one who understands your sister. Yes! Even Disney gets it now.
Up to now, I’ve written about female friendships and sisterly love in books like Threads, The Look and You Don’t Know Me. My last book, The Castle was about a girl trying to rescue her action-hero dad from an evil billionaire. Yes, there was a boy in it. At one point he had to save the girl, and later she had to save him back. There wasn’t time for anything else between them.
Then came Love Song. My first boy-girl romance. I wanted to write about fandom, and a girl and a rock band. Originally, with my feminist hat on, I pictured her as the band’s bodyguard, saving them from a stalker. But a much more delicate story emerged – more truthful to my experience as a seventeen year-old (I was into art and jazz ballet, not martial arts). It’s about a girl who’s outwardly strong but emotionally vulnerable. She gets a very junior role in the band’s entourage and at first they hardly notice her. However, the more they get to know her as the book goes on, the more they like her. Does she get knocked off course? Hell, yes. But what mattered to me was how she got back on course again.
When I was researching the book I read a lot of fan fiction – most of it about One Direction. I was impressed by the quality of a lot of the writing. They were great stories! But one thing that disappointed me was that in many of them the ending involved the girl living at home in Harry or Liam’s house while he went out and recorded. She had started out as a really interesting, multi-faceted character but it turned out that her dream was to be a stay-at-home girlfriend, dependent on her new, rich boyfriend. No! What would happen after the story if he went off her, or found another girl? What would her life be then?
So I wrote a story about a girl who saves a rock band – not physically, but emotionally and musically. She has her photography and her art, and her life planned out ahead of her. Yes, being with them can be wonderful, and they inspire her as much as she inspires them, but she doesn’t need them. Not like they need her. In fact, their fame is the obstacle that might get in the way of her happiness with one of them – not the reason she likes him at all.
Love Song ends with a wedding, but not, perhaps, the wedding you may think. We’ve moved on from Jane Austen. Girls don’t have to make those compromises any more. We’re too busy making the new world the way we want it. If rock stars want to help us out with that they’re welcome to, but they’re going to have to fit in with our busy schedule. However much love there is between them, princesses don’t get rescued by princes these days. If a girl needs rescuing, she must learn how to rescue herself.
Sophia Bennett rose to fame after winning the 2009 Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition with her debut novel, Threads. It became the first of a three books series, which was followed by The Look in 2012.
A full-time author, Bennett has toured extensively in schools and festivals across the UK. She lives in London with her husband and four children. Bennett is passionate about girls discovering their inner power through creativity. Her protagonists are aspiring fashion designers or would-be pop stars, and sometimes they’re spies. They’re always a lot braver than they know, and Sophia loves it when they finally figure that out. Bennett’s books have been published around the world, from Germany to Brazil and Japan. When she’s not writing, Bennett tends to be at home in London with her family, or travelling around the UK, talking about writing. This year she is a visiting lecturer at City University.