May 15 2012 9:45am

Author Anna Banks on Love, Dating, and the Apocalypse

Of Poseidon by Anna BanksToday we welcome author Anna Banks, whose upcoming Of Poseidon has already swept away many readers. We are delighted to have Anna here to talk about love and dating outside of a post-apocalyptic world.

When I was pondering ideas for this guest post, my initial thought was to dissect the whole love-at-first-sight-in-YA thing. I even looked up the definition of love.  According to Dictionary.com love is: A profoundly tender, passionate affection for one another.

Which made me giggle (snort obnoxiously). As with all official definitions, it felt stuffy and generic and lacking all the stolen glances, inside jokes, whipped cream and awkward moments that really encompass the true meaning of love.

So I did what any self-respecting person would do: I consulted Twitter. I took a Twitter poll, asking my participants to answer whether or not they believed in love at first sight. A whopping 90% responded that they did not (shocker).

Then I asked them to define love. I got a bunch of whimsical answers, some mushy stuff, some wildly inappropriate stuff, and some stuff I think is better suited to stay between them and their psychiatrist. I did not get the Dictionary.com definition. I did notice, though, that no one said:

“Surviving the Hunger Games together.”


“Escaping the Reestablishment together.”


“Surviving Topside together.”

Shatter Me by Taheri MafiNow, I’m one of those people who doesn’t subscribe to the insta-love catalogue, which is why I really enjoyed books like The Hunger Games, Shatter Me, and Enclave. Even Cinder, a sci-fi re-telling of Cinderella, managed to slow-cook the love, to really develop it, instead of offering us a barely-microwaved romance up front. I bought into the romance in each of these books, believed in the sustainability of their love. It was the real dill, pickle.  

So, if we took the formula for love in all these books and stuck it in a blender with the Dictionary.com definition, we get this: “A profoundly tender, passionate affection for one another that develops during and/or after surviving the apocalypse together.”

 Which sucks for us, because the next apocalypse isn’t scheduled until ________________. 

But that’s not right either, is it? I mean, there’s got to be a balance somewhere, right? Not insta-love, but not always life or death situations, either.  So, how do we arrive at love in real life? What do normal people do?

Well, as far as I can tell, they date. We date. Our friends, neighbors and frenemies date. Your post man? He probably dated his high school sweetheart. The young clerk at the grocery store? She’s probably got a hot date after work. That kid walking down the street with dirty hair, a t-shirt bearing the “SPAM” logo, and an iPod that could not possibly be playing a tune that actually matches his awkward stride? Yep. He’s got a girlfriend, too.

As a writer of young adult fiction, I’ve had to come up with some original ideas for dating. If you Google ideas for first dates, you get a bunch of bland gruel, like going to the movies, going skating, bowling, and rock-climbing (Seriously? Rock climbing is fun???) The only suggestion I could really get behind is going paintballing. That would make for a great character dissection in a YA novel, don’t you think? I mean, you can learn a lot about someone when they’re hunting you down with a paintball gun in “good fun.” The expression, “It’s all fun and games until someone _________” comes to mind, doesn’t it?

Katniss and Peeta from Hunger GamesFor instance, girls, does he want to win so badly that he doesn’t give you a chance? Or does he think you’re incapable of beating him for reals and thus gives you a pity victory?

And guys, does she want to prove herself to you so badly that she’d take the ever-illegal, ever-painful shot to the crotch to get that small advantage of your limping the rest of the game?

But I digress. The point is, dating is conducive to falling in love, yes? 

But the thing about the main characters—Galen and Emma—in my YA debut, Of Poseidon, is that they’re not allowed to fall in love. Not if Galen wants to save his kingdom. Yet, they’re forced to go on dates. Fake ones, unimaginative ones. Ones where they upchuck.

But then they accidentally go on a real one. One that makes the fake ones cry like wittle babies. One that no one has ever been on—at least, not for a hundred years. And one that seals both their fates.

Friends, there are many paths that lead to love, in real life and in fiction. Sometimes the paths are shorter (insta-love) and sometimes the paths are longer, full of thorn bushes, snakes, mud-holes and possibly zombies (apocalypse). And then there’s the more obvious route, the one most people take (dating).

Is one way better than the others? How do you prefer your romance in real life? How do you prefer it in fiction? You tell me.


Editor’s note: For more about Anna Banks’s Of Poseidon, read an excerpt of Chapters 1-2!


Anna Banks grew up in a small town called Niceville (yes, really). She now lives in Crestview, Florida, with her husband and their daughter. This is her debut novel.

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Heather Waters
1. HeatherWaters
I love this post! So fun. You know, in real life I am all for dating; in fiction, I must confess I really dig the unconventional (even life or death) courtships, which is why I, too, really enjoy books like Cinder and The Hunger Games. Can't wait to read Of Poseidon to find out what date Galen and Emma find themselves on.
Kiersten Hallie Krum
2. Kiersten
I'm with Red. I dig the dating in real life - kinda - but in books, I like high stakes romance with the world blowing up one way or another around it. Not so much zombie apocalypse all the time, but that's why I love romantic suspense. There's nothing that shows you the true character of a lover than being in life or death situations. Will they stick? Will they abandon? Will they prove themselves worthy, either one of them? It a fast way to a deeper level of intimacy that power tracks the route to love...eventually.
Jennifer Proffitt
3. JenniferProffitt
I haven't read Shatter Me, but I'm a huge fan of The Hungers Games and Cinder. While I love those books, I do read them for the fantasy, not dating tips, I guess, so I've never really thought about how unrealistic the romance elements are because they're another part of the fantasy.

In adult romance you see a lot of the same trends, either the hero and the heroine are infatuated with one another at first sight (in the case of contemp and historical) or have to fight a cosmic evil together, and then once they have sex they usually live happily ever after because their pheromones match so perfectly. I think in YA, because often times the sex element isn't there or isn't there for a while we tend to see a more realistic human verson of falling in love amidst the post-apocalyptic zombie infested world they live in.
Jennifer Proffitt
4. JenniferProffitt
@Kiersten "Will they stick? Will they abandon? Will they prove themselves worthy, either one of them?" But isn't the point of romance: that they will stick, they will prove themselves worthy, or at least that's the author's ultimate goal, right? At least in adult romance. I think in YA, it can be a free-for-all as far as romantic relationships go. There's no guarantee that when A guy shows up he's THE guy for our heroine in YA, where I think that's very much the case in adult.
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