(Continuing on with the new take on the “Why You Should Never Live With…” series)
We know by now why we shouldn’t live with an Unreliable Narrator, Chick-Lit Heroine, Cop From A Crime Novel, Character From A Young Adult Novel, Literary Fiction Hero, Romantic Hero, Historical Fiction Hero, Husband From A Women’s Fiction Novel or Woman From A Historical Period TV Drama.
But what if some of them ended up living together? What happens to fictional stereotypes, dear readers, when genres collide?
Recently, we looked at why a Crime Novel Cop should never live with a Chick-Lit Heroine. But it’s time to move on. To something both young and very, very old.
Why should a Historical Fiction Hero never live with the protagonist of a YA novel?
Dusk: that time of day when young adult protagonists come alive, and historical fiction heroes contemplate the death of society as they know it.
Outside a typical two-up two-down suburban semi-detached starter home, there is a rustling in the shrubbery. It startles Young Adult Protagonist, who has exited the front door dressed in an outfit which is both non-descript in terms of cut and colour, and overly-descript in terms of fabrics which are somehow popular in each of the last four decades.
Suddenly the lush well-fertilised foliage parts, and Historical Fiction Hero bursts triumphantly from a bush, a plump rat wriggling madly in his fist. His long hair is unkempt. His billowing shirt is ripped in three places. He looks fantastic.
Young Adult Protagonist: What the shitting hell!
Historical Fiction Hero: I beg your pardon! Such language – and with ladies present!
YAP: [looking around] No there isn’t.
HFH: There are ladies but three yards from you on both sides of this dwelling, their sensitive ears no doubt ringing with the vulgarity of such speech.
YAP: They’re like, you know, neighbours. Not ladies.
HFH: Then you are no gentleman, Sir.
YAP: Oh my GOD, will you ever get off my case? And what’s that in your hand?
HFH: It is the scourge of society. The plague of cities. And my dinner.
YAP: [making no effort whatsoever to disguise derision] Uggghhh. You are so disgusting.
HFH: Doubtless I shan’t eat the creature. It is only that I once was forced to forage for such vermin during some war – or other time of similar unimaginable hardship – there have been so many, I can scarcely remember. Thus I find myself periodically in the need of procuring the odd rat, for roasting over an open fire.
HFH: Where is it that you tarry at this late hour?
YAP: It’s not late. I only got up twenty minutes ago.
HFH: Your slovenly behaviour makes me weep for tomorrow, despite my unyielding fascination with yesteryear.
YAP: Well, to be fair, I didn’t go to bed until 9am.
HFH: I regret to say that I do not understand a world which could permit a 15-year-old to stay out all night.
YAP: Seriously, give me a break. I’m so sick of your, like, Victorian attitude.
HFH: I feel duty-bound to clumsily divulge that I do not know this Queen Victoria of whom you speak, because I was born in 1752.
YAP: Who cares? Look, I was out all night because I was saving the world.
HFH: That makes it the third time you have saved the world this year, if I am not mistaken?
YAP: Fourth, actually. You’re forgetting the incident with the busload of teenage cardiac patients on their way to a symposium for gifted physicists of the future.
HFH: Physicist? You mean physician?
YAP: Never mind. I can’t even explain the toaster to you, so I’m hardly going to start into quantum mechanics. Which I am literally brilliant at, by the way, along with lacrosse, oddly retro video games which only my author – sorry, my parents – remember, and playing the cello.
HFH: Nevertheless, you are but fifteen. I expect you to return tonight before nightfall. God’s stockings! In my time, you would not even be permitted to speak in company until you were one-and-twenty!
YAP: Yeah, well in your time, you were all dead of malnutrition or metal poisoning by the age of fifty. It’s hardly a great example.
HFH: At least we knew our place in society.
YAP: Society’s boring. And anyway, there wouldn’t even be a society, if it wasn’t for me staving off a total dystopian nightmare all the time.
HFH: You can save the world, but you cannot pick up your underclothes from the floor of your bedchamber?
YAP: Good job you insisted on us getting a servant, then, wasn’t it?
HFH: She is not a servant. She is your mother.
HFH: Which puts me in mind that she has once again increased your exorbitant weekly allowance. You seem to require a lot of money for one so young, without ever acknowledging from whence it comes. It is fortunate that in the periods when I am not starving aristocratically, I am the beneficiary of a most excellent income, without ever having to explain from whence it comes.
YAP: Yeah, well, easy come, easy go, that’s what I say.
HFH: To be young again! Even though I am but thirty-one myself. Nevertheless, one should respect one’s mother.
YAP: I’d respect her a lot more if she hated me. Sometimes I think she’s a bit fixated on me, you know? Like, she needs to get a life and stuff? [frowning] Although sometimes too I think, when you walk around with your shirt open half way down your chest, she might be a bit fixated on you as well?
HFH: Again, I feel it is incumbent upon me to tell you that I do not understand your strange manner of speech.
YAP: I’m calling BS. You totally wigged out to Kendrick Lamar yesterday.
HFH: [sighing] I beg your pardon, but have something perpetually fundamental which I must serendipitously invent before supper, so that I may retire gently in the knowledge that I have made a lasting impression upon humanity.
YAP: [rolling eyes] Whatever. I have to go and save the world. AGAIN. I suppose I’ll see you tomorrow.
YAP exits via the garden gate. With the wisdom and hindsight of two centuries, Historical Fiction Hero shakes his head and chuckles, musing that young adult protagonists haven’t changed all that much since Romeo and Juliet were know-it-all pains-in-the-arses in the 1500s.