Day 3 Cara Elliott – Celebrating Childhood, Friendship & Love

Childhood Lessons On Life & Love

I grew up in a family of avid readers, so ever since I can remember, books have been an integral part of my life. Words, pictures, the magic of a story unfolding with each turn of the page . . . But because my mother favored serious non-fiction works on history and cultural subjects while my brothers were fascinated by science fiction, “romance” wasn’t a genre on any of our bookshelves. Cara Elliott Sinfully Yours

So I was weaned on the classics — Charlotte’s Web, The Wind in the Willows, Winnie the Pooh. From there it was on to swashbuckling adventures of chivalry and valor, like Howard Pyle’s The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood and Otto of the Silver Hand, and Alexander Dumas’s The Three Musketeers saga.

But as I look back now, I realize that though I didn’t know it at the time, the real heart of romance was there in everything I read. The elemental themes in the stories that resonated with me were all about friendship, and how those bonds made the heroes and heroines — whether they were a spider, a bear, a princess or a knight in shining armor — stronger than they could be on their own.

Conflict, loss, disappointment, despair, hope, longing — all the complex emotions of real life were there in those many pages that filled my childhood reading hours, and the ultimate message, however subtle, was that it’s possible to triumph over any adversity with help of the redemptive power of love.

Think about it — that’s the common thread that stitches so many stories together, no matter what genre. From ancient myths and legends to history books and modern memoirs; from classic literature to chick lit, so many stories and true life tales celebrate Love and the resilience of the human spirit.

I was in high school when I first read Pride and Prejudice and I think it was at that moment, however subconsciously, that I understood the power of a romance novel to make us laugh, to make us cry, to make us dream, and most importantly to make us believe that however dark things may look, we should never lose hope that we can persevere and find our happily ever after. These days, there are many times when people raise their eyebrows and smirk when they hear that I write romance novels. Jane Austen encountered the same “disrespect,” and I love how she slyly answered her critics in a passage of Northanger Abbey: “It is only a novel … or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humor, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language”

Like Jane, I’m proud of what I do and the message that is at the heart of my books. Love. Hope. Have the courage to dream big dreams. And you know, when I fire back and say that’s romance books are all about, it’s amazing how quickly those smirks disappear.

So what about you—do you have a favorite book from childhood that celebrated friendship and love? Please share! Mine are The House at Pooh Corner and The Wind in the Willows.

Recommendations: There are SO many wonderful authors whose books I love—it’s hard to name just a few. That said, here are some of my automatic buys: Mary Jo Putney (and all my fellow Word Wenches!), Loretta Chase and Deanna Raybourn. It’s also always fun to discover new authors, and one recent addition to my shelves is Maggie Robinson, whose book, In the Arms of an Heiress,  was a delightful read.


Questions for the Author:

Describe the most daring, adventurous or inspiring thing you ever did.

One summer during college, I toured all over Europe on a motorcycle with my boyfriend. It turned out to be all three of the things listed above! I tended to be cautious, so by daring to be daring, I learned to push myself out of my comfort zone. It was adventurous, and along the way I learned to laugh at the bumps that inevitably pop up in the road. (Humor is very important in life!) And it was inspiring because seeing new places and meeting people from different cultures reminded me that being inquisitive and open to new things is how we grow as people. All three lessons were invaluable ones that have stuck with me to this day.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)

Well, I actually wrote my first book at age five, (an illustrated Western!) so I guess I always know in my heart that I wanted to tell stories. However, writing got put on the back burner as I studied art in college, and went on to have a career in publication design (still loved word and pictures!) But books were always there in the back of my mind, and one day I just challenged myself to sit down and write one . . . and here I am. (Note to aspiring authors—dare to dream!)

Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)The Fabulous Flight

I blogged about the influence of children’s books and their celebration of love and friendship, so I’ll choose The Fabulous Flight by Robert Lawson. It’s an amazingly inventive story of a boy whose scientist father accidentally shrinks him to a size of a mouse. He strikes up a wonderful friendship with Gus, a seagull . . . and suddenly the two of them are enlisted in a grand adventure that involves saving the world from Evil. It had everything I love to this day—adventure, mystery, love in the form of a special friendship, and a happily ever after. But most of all, it showed me at an early age the power of the imagination. The story whisked me off to a whole new world where anything was possible. I loved that about books, and it make me realize how much joy and inspiration they bring.

Cara is generously offering an e-book edition of Scandalously Yours, the first book in her Hellions of High Street trilogy. (Domestic only, apologies to international readers.) And don’t forget to enter the RARM Week 1 giveaway – A Month of Romance: 31 Novels from Berkley Romance authors.

Cara Elliott Author photoI began my writing career at age five with a number of lavishly illustrated Westerns, which were lovingly preserved for posterity by my first fan (Thanks, Mom!)

I have since moved on to Regency England, an era that has fascinated me ever since I picked up a copy of Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice.

Books have always been an important part of my life. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and I’ve always had a very vivid imagination . . . so much so that I think at times it worried my parents that I was so happy in my own little world, drawing pictures and creating stories.

My teachers will also tell you that I was the class history geek, even in grade school. I don’t really know why, but I have always been fascinated with the past.

As an undergrad at Yale, I majored in art and went on to get a MFA in Graphic Design. So storytelling got put on the back burner for a while.

But The Muse kept whispering in my ear, and one day I sat down at the keyboard . . . and realized that writing is what I love.

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