Sunday, February 21, 2016

On Arguments, Romance and a Tribute by Milou Koenings

An obituary may seem misplaced in a blog about writing romance, but it in this case, I don't think it is.   

bridge over river and house
Bear with me for a minute.   

You see, we romance writers spend a long time coming up with arguments.  

Our characters have fights.   

Big, whopping ones.   

The more passionate, the better. 
And then, of course, they make up.

Sometimes, it's another, outside force that keeps our hero and heroine apart, but many times, it's a misunderstanding, a miscommunication, or downright conflicting interests.  

The higher the stakes, the more opposite their interests, then the more the sparks fly and the more satisfying that happy ever after resolution.

If we look at the real world around us though, it seems a rare thing these days, for people to have seriously conflicting interests or hold opposite views on an issue, and yet still respect or even come to love each other.   

Too often, people are quick to write others off entirely. How often we hear things like, "If you think that, well then you must be a horrible, evil person! I won't even speak with you!"

Is it not possible for people to disagree and yet still love each other? 

I like to think that's what our romance novels are there for - to prove it is.

That's where the obituary comes in, and not because I'm burying the possibility.  

It's because I want to pay tribute to the man who most taught me the extent to which it is indeed possible.

This week, my college friend Mary Clare unexpectedly lost her father.  He was on vacation, went to sleep at night and didn't wake up in the morning. 

Perhaps the news hit me so hard because my sister and I have spent the past few weeks coping with having our own father in and out of ICU. But perhaps it was also because, aside from my own father, Mary Clare's dad was probably one of the biggest influences in my life. 

Outwardly, the influences are obvious: I followed into his profession. I attended the graduate school where he'd been a teacher. The professors there ceaselessly picked on me, starting class with questions like, "So, Ms. Koenings, what would Mary Clare's dad have said about this case?"  The result was that I approached my entire pre-romance-author career with the attitude of "How would Mary Clare's dad handle this?" My first job offer was from the same firm where he had begun his career.

That's just the external stuff.  The bigger stuff is that her dad was an amazing human being. He was kind, he was funny, he was humble.  He was so charming that even the people who were determined to hate him would meet him and leave totally enamored of him. 

Why would people be determined to hate him?  Well, he was a lawyer and then a judge.  Lawyers deal in conflict.  Arguments are their bread and butter.  Lawyers make enemies. Fighting with others is their profession.  Some of the fights judges see, romance authors would be hard pressed to come up with even in our wildest dreams.

Many people take it personally. He never did. Some of his best friends were lawyers who were almost always on "the other" side. They pretty much never agreed on anything - and yet he had the biggest capacity for friendship. He respected people and didn't hold their arguments or beliefs against them as people.

People's arguments and views may be valid, or not. You can argue against them, or not; they may change, or not – but they aren't what make people. A person's opinion on one issue isn't what makes her good or kind, what makes her love her kids, or enjoy punk rock instead of Mozart, or choose pistachio ice cream over brownies. 

He once said of a very good friend, "She's a nice person, what's not to like?" - this about a woman who disagreed with almost every value he'd spent his professional life fighting for!

No matter how differently we view the world, chances are we have a lot more in common on which to build bridges than we think we do. And certainly, we're all worthy of being treated with respect, kindness and good humor.

Those of us who were fortunate to be influenced by Mary Clare's dad are better people for it and the world is a better place for the family and friends he leaves behind. 

So back to the romance bit of this post: If the world were really full of people like this, it should be no surprise for two people with wildly conflicting interests to fall madly in love, right?  

If anything, that just adds a little spice to the love story...

Milou Koenings is a USA Today best-selling author. She writes romance because, like chocolate, stories with a happy ending bring more joy into the world and so make it a better place.  

Her Green Pines sweet romances, Reclaiming Home and Sweet Blizzard are available on Amazon and
You can find her on her website,, on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram.
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  1. As I read your post, I began to realize that you were talking about Justice Scalia. How sad for his family that he died so suddenly. You were fortunate to know him personally.

    1. Oh dear. I thought surely there are enough lawyers around I could get away with this? I've been crying all week, I had to write something... but, yes, you're right, it was a very great blessing.

  2. You've written a beautiful tribute. Sorry for your loss. He sounded like a wonderful lawyer, judge, and friend.