Welcome historical author Alicia Rasley
to the Book Boost!
to the Book Boost!
She's here to chat about being an unromantic--romance author and here's what she had to say...
Does Being a Romance Author Make You a Romantic?
I'm glad to be hear to talk to you in this most romantic of months! Of course, it doesn't seem all that romantic to me—February? I live in the midwest. February is gray and slushy. But even if the month were as bright and flowery as June, I wouldn't think it that romantic.
Yes. I'm an unromantic romance writer!
Just ask my husband. He'll tell you romance is wasted on me. He's even learned not to bother getting me jewelry. I always forget to put it on, or my clumsy fingers break the clasps, or I am "brainstorming" my latest plot and forget where I put the diamond brooch. (Usually in the laundry.)
Hey, he's getting off easy! He knows if I want flowers, I'll get some myself—at that most romantic of florists, Kroger's. Yep, after I pick up the dishwasher detergent and the parsnips, I'll pick up a bouquet or two.
And when he asks me what I want for my birthday (unromantically placed the very same week as Christmas), I cogitate for awhile and finally settle on… a new printer cartridge. (Tri-color! Let's really go for the passion!)
I save all my romantic desires for my books. Now here I have very high expectations. In my books, heroes don't just have to buy flowers. They should know enough to steal into a secret garden at midnight and pluck their own bouquet by the light of the full moon while whispering their darling's name! I don't make them slay dragons, but they ought to be willing to do the Regency equivalent.
For example, Michael in Royal Renegade defies his own sovereign and the crowned heads of Europe to save the princess bride from her disastrous royal betrothal. And his half-brother John (in Poetic Justice) endures the storms of the North Sea and a flogging from a sadistic navy captain to get to the church on time for his wedding.
I know I'm not alone. I have a friend who chose Tulsa for her honeymoon because she was setting a book there and needed to research the setting. Another won a free cruise at her job, and gave it away to a co-worker so that she could spend that time at home, writing her adventurous pirate romance. Another says her long marriage is due to her unwillingness to ever date again. What if she would fall in love with a new man? "Why waste all that passion on, you know, a real guy? I could use it to create a new hero!"
In fact, I suspect most romance writers keep their lives prosaic so that they can make their books romantic. After all, if we were constantly seeking adventure and romance, when would we have time to write? How could we cruise down the Amazon into the jungle and still meet our deadlines? (No wi-fi!)
Years ago, during a rocky marital moment (or month, or year), I took a class titled "1001 Ways to Be Romantic." I know, I know. A romance writer has to take a class in romance? But really, it helped! Wow. I still have the textbook. What great ideas, and I put them right to work! "#627: "Interview his mother, father, siblings, friends and colleagues to learn about his unique quirks, likes, dislikes, hobbies and passions."
I did a brainstorming exercise, free-writing in their voices, and I learned so much about my hero! (Oh. You mean the "his" refers to the husband? Now you know why it was a rocky marital moment for me. :)
And then there was #628: "Pretend you're millionaires! Window shop and choose expensive items for yourself as well as your lover." Boy, did that give me a great scene where the hero and heroine, newly destitute, walk down Bond Street and point out the luscious luxury items they'd give each other if the villain hadn't stolen all their money!
Well, the class didn't do much for my marriage, but it sure livened up my romance novels! (Actually, the marriage survived. There are worse things for a man than to be married to a woman who prefers print cartridges to diamond rings. And it's sure easier to be a hero when the most dangerous mission is installing a new printer to my laptop.)
At any rate, if you want romance, don't ask a romance writer. Just read our books. That's where we put every romantic impulse and instinct. Why waste those on our own lives, when we can share them with millions (well, thousands) of readers?
A Note from the Book Boost: Very funny post, Alicia but I have to admit that I'm a sucker for romance. I do hold out for the special dinners, the rose petals and the trips abroad. I married my own romance hero and even honeymooned in Ireland. I believe in happy endings and try to hope that there really are still good people out there in this harsh world. They say I'm a dreamer but I'm not the only one (oops, I think that might be a song lyric). Anyway, thanks for joining us and please tell us more about your latest.
A renegade rare-books dealer and a heiress-in-waiting must embark on a sham betrothal for the loftiest of literary aims– to prove that Shakespeare really was... Shakespeare.
John Dryden is on the trail of the greatest acquisition of his checkered career– a play manuscript written in Shakespeare's own hand. Between him and his prize is an obsessed librarian who wants to destroy it... and the heiress who can lead him to it, but only if he's willing to risk his life, his freedom, and his loner's heart.
John said, "I've had enough of noblewomen thinking of me as some diversion from their own kind."
"Diversion? What do you mean?"
"The peasant blood. Makes a man virile, you know."
The scathing tone of his voice indicated that he was quoting this. From whom, Jessica didn't want to imagine. But the implication that she might agree made her furious. "That's absurd! I don't see you as a diversion! From what would you be diverting me?"
"I've heard all about what in-breeding has done to the British peer— made him effete and effeminate and weak-boned, unable to perform. That's what rough-hewn virile peasants are meant to make up for."
It was so nonsensical that her anger vanished and she almost laughed. But she couldn't let him go free so easily as that. "Well, you don't seem the least rough-hewn to me. Your manners are every bit as insolent as a prince's, and you must count your moral authority somewhere up there with the Archbishop of Canterbury's. If all peasants in England were like you, we'd have been able to give the French lessons in revolution!"
"I have never set myself up as a moral authority."
"You just did! Accusing me of desiring to kiss you for any reason beyond— well, desiring to kiss you! And, as for that peasant virility— " She broke off, and stalked ahead. "Never mind."
"Oh, no, please do go on." Now there was laughter in his voice, but she chose to ignore it. "I wait with bated breath to hear this. As for my peasant virility—"
"I have only your word that it exists. Indeed, you are so sensitive about this virility issue, I must wonder. Have you cause?"
In response he took her arm and drew her to him. "Usually, when my manhood's questioned, I resort to cutlasses. But in this case...."
Pressed against his chest this way, she could hardly find the breath to speak, but she said, "There are other ways, you know."
And just as he bent his head, she raised hers, so that their mouths met. This kiss wasn't tentative or onesided, but a lingering exploration of the possibilities. John's rough sailor's hand was gentle on her cheek, his mouth softened in response to hers. She closed her eyes, letting him draw her closer, opening her mouth to his searching. It was dizzying, dazzling, impossible.