'Barbara Cartland on Romance Writing' by Calum Kerr
They gathered round the grave in their uniforms, their suits and their long flowing dresses. As the cardboard coffin was lowered into the grave, all of her creations waited for her.
She rose, as they knew she must, once all the living had departed. She was not as she had been at the end of her life, but as she was in her prime, her curls set firm against the elements, her chin raised in defiance.
They clamoured round her with just one question.
“Why were we never allowed to have sex?”
It is the most primal drive, some of them argued. It is the thing which keeps us going, said others. Without it there would be no human race. It is the basic urge and the strongest. Why were we denied, asked the rest.
She simply looked at them, meeting their gazes: face after face, rank after rank, working through the thousands of waiting characters in turn. She stared at them until each of them looked away.
“You may well look ashamed,” she told them. “You know the answer to your question, even as you ask it.”
She waited in the gathering gloom, but none of them moved or said a word.
“I gave you love without the complications. I invoked Plato and his ideals. I gave you the love that is larger than physicality, larger than the body, larger than life. I gave you something so grand, so wonderful, so perfect that you would never have felt anything like it in real life.”
“But that’s what we wanted. We wanted to be real,” interrupted a voice.
She continued without pause. “And I made you into something more than real. You were people who readers could admire and hope to emulate. I made you characters who would never be forgotten and whose purity would burn for the rest of eternity. In fact, you aren’t characters. You are love! And what better reason could there be to exist?”
As she spoke she looked from one to the next, to the next.
“Any more stupid questions?” she asked.