When people ask me to describe Risky Business, I tell them it’s an urban-family rom-com which is kinda guaranteed to get me a blank look.
Just what the hell is an urban family?
Oh, I’m so pleased you asked! 🙂
I guess I can give you the long answer – a group of people – some could be related but not necessarily – from different places, coming together to form a community within an urban setting.
But, personally I’ve always found a picture is worth a thousand words….
The first time I ever heard the term urban-family was in Bridget Jones’s Diary and her three besties are absolutely the epitome of this modern cultural phenomena. Jude, Tom, and Shazza are Bridget’s family in the city. They’re not related in any way but as a bunch of London singletons they’ve formed a close-knit, “family” unit.
Another classic example of an urban-family is the gang from Friends.
Friends, set in New York, has more complex relationships going on between its characters. Ross and Monica are siblings. Monica and Rachel are old school friends. Chandler and Ross also went to school together. Joey lives with Chandler in the apartment across the hall from Monica and Phoebe forms the 6th member of the family whose daily lives revolve around each other and their friendships.
A more modern example is the brilliant Big Bang Theory.
Big Bang is set in Pasadena starring a bunch of geeks (none of them related to each other) and one hot blonde coming from cities and towns all over the USA and finding their tribe.
All these shows have an urban family at their core. The other thing they all have is a common place to meet, which I believe is another important element in the urban-family dynamic. In Bridget Jones it’s their local pub. In Friends, it’s Monica’s apartment or maybe the coffee shop Central Perk. In Big Bang its Sheldon’s apartment.
In my urban-family rom-com Risky Business the hub of the community is a second-hand romance bookshop. An injured Nick comes home to recover and, for something to do, takes over the reins of his dead grandmother’s bookshop. Samantha, his brainy, curvy neighbour and romance novel devotee needs a job so she ends up there too. Then we have the regulars that come into the shop. Old Dulcie Reardon. Sal the office worker who got dumped by her boyfriend for “getting too fat”. Kelly whose initial crush on Sam morphs into a lovely friendship. Vonnie who likes her books hot and spicy, Dora who likes a spot of romantic suspense, and Bernie who pops into buy historicals for his mum and her friends at the nursing home.
Then there’s Sam’s sister, Bec, who, although isn’t there in person until the end, is as much a part of the community consciousness as any of them.
So here we have another bunch of people from different walks of life coming together to form a community and the shop is their hub. It’s the place where books are read, lamingtons are eaten, and a campaign to save their favourite iconic tea shop from the wrecker’s ball is run. It’s the place where Nick and Sam fall in love.
I love these kind of stories. I love their urban, contemporary feel, but I also love how they have a sense of “small town” about them despite the broader cityscape. Urban-family stories are, above all, community stories with all the heart and quirk and richness that brings to a book.
I think they deserve their own sub-genre and I’m going to be writing a lot more of them!