I write romantic comedies and I set them all in summertime, the season of eternal youth. Like love, summer lasts forever. If you fall in love in summertime you will have that love the rest of your life. Every summer thereafter will remind you of the certainty, the glory, the exhileration of love’s roller coaster.
P.G. Wodehouse, seniormost god in my personal pantheon of romantic comedy authors, never wrote a story that wasn’t set in summer. He knew what he was doing. His universe, like mine, is the place where young lovers can do crazy things in the name of love, mess it up, and yet always wake to another sunny day to make their dreams come true. His summers were mostly English, although he set some later novels in the US, especially Long Island, where he spent the latter part of his life.
My summer stories take place in Chicago and thereabouts. Midwestern summers have their own charm, as Ray Bradbury recorded so memorably in Dandelion Wine. Remember the chapter where the kid talks to the shoe store owner about the immense power of new sneakers? If you were ever released from school into three months of unstructured play, you know the power of summer.
Summer flowers of the midwestern prairie roast under the sun, but never wilt. Lightning bugs and tree frogs make twilight magical with their light-and-sound shows. Nighthawks dive hundreds of feet through clouds of gnats. The clouds themselves arrive suddenly, build massive mountain ranges in the sky, dump floods and hail amid spectacular donner and blitzen, and then as suddenly depart, leaving us all steaming. Whether you’re walking on burning city sidewalks or skimming down country roads on your bike, you hear cicadas sawing away. A raindrop hits the dust and perfumes the air.
Don’t get me wrong. Chicago has truly miserable winters. I certainly shovel my way through them, fighting snow-sluggish traffic, shuddering under blankets, praying for a sight of the sun. Cars throw gobs of slush at me as I cross the street. My purple wiper fluid runs out halfway home, or simply freezes onto my subzero windshield.
But I promise you this: you will not find a Chicago winter in my stories.
There will be only endless days, ripe tomatoes still hot from the garden on your plate, cold beer in your hand under the stars, crickets just beginning to chirp at eight p.m., maybe a band playing in the park, the smell of the lake wafting in your bedroom window, and him, the love of your life, walking across the shadows on the lawn, coming to get you.
About the Author: Twenty-five years or more ago, Jennifer Stevenson was born under a cabbage leaf, dreaming of becoming a hack writer for the pulps. After a flustering detour down the rabbit-hole of literary fiction, she located a trail of breadcrumbs and followed it here, where she finds new uses for old sex demons and celebrates smart-mouth women. Find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.
http://tinyurl.com/7cy559n. For something definitely weirder, try her roller derby vampire romance, A Taste Of You, available here: http://tinyurl.com/8ytcoou.