Jennifer McQuiston – The Gift of Romance

It’s Read-A-Romance Month.

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Visit every day in August to see what 93+ of your favorite authors have to say about The Joy of Romance. Do you love Romance? Let’s celebrate. xo

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Romancing the “Joy” Across Generations

I don’t remember the name or the details of the first romance IFinal Cover JQ Quote ever read, other than greatly enjoying the departure from the Nancy Drew books I had been reading. It was undoubtedly a book I spirited away from my mother’s overflowing pile of reading material, and I was undoubtedly far too young to be reading them.

5th Grade, I think.

For the next few years, I read under the covers at night. Historicals with a bare-chested Fabio on the cover, dressed like a pirate. Judy Blume’s iconic Wifey (oh, it was so deliciously different from her middle grade books that I had been reading!). Ranches set in Montana with hard-working cowboy heroes…  I enjoyed a diverse selection of reading material from my mother’s ever-changing basket of books, with one key, connecting thread throughout: a happily ever after waited for me at the end of each of them.

When she discovered what I was doing, my mother didn’t forbid me to keep reading them. No, instead of scolding me and directing me back to the decidedly uninteresting Nancy Drew, she just shook her head and surmised that if I was old enough to want to read them and manage the heavy text and adult material in The Thornbirds, who was sheWhat-Happens-in-Scotland-Paperback-P9780062231291 to interfere?

When I was asked to write a blog post on the “Joy of Romance”, I knew immediately I had to write about this early parenting decision by my mother. You see, my mother’s name is “Joy”, and her indelible gift to me was allowing me to develop my own love of romance. The “Joy of Romance” is almost certainly a learned trait, nurtured by family environments that encourage girls to read whatever their hearts desire.

Today, I write the same sort of romances I once had to sneak from my mom’s basket, and instead of turning a “blind” eye, my mother reads them all, cheering me on. And it seems that sharing a love of reading—and an appreciation for romance—really is a multi-generational thing.

My own pre-teen daughter is already older than I was when I snuck those books beneath the covers. She has more reading choices than I did, thanks to the lush and well-written crop of Young Adult books on the market today, and she is eagerly devouring the small mountain of books that I buy her (and read myself) every month. I love being able to discuss these YA books with my daughter, debate the finer points of the romance in them, choose sides in the inevitable love triangle. And even better, many of these books are being made into movies, so once the reading is done, we can launch ourselves into the story on the screen.

So kudos to all the romance readers out there whose appreciation sprang from a similar childhood experience, and kudos to the mothers Dedication(and grandmothers) who pretended to look the other way while the young girls they were raising discovered love between the pages. Thank you for permitting us that positive first look into what a woman ought to want (and expect) in the relationships we would eventually carve out for ourselves. I can promise you we are happier for it.

And thank you, Mom. For sharing the Joy.

Now it’s your turn to confess: I would love to hear if you had a childhood encounter with romance, and what that book was, if you can remember! Happy commenting!


Questions for the Author:

As a special treat and to support Jenni’s post, two terrific authors who couldn’t take part in RARM this year did the fun Q&A!

First: Julia Quinn

Tell us about a moment in your life when you experienced sheer joy. 

Earlier this year I took a vacation to Baja California to do some “hands-on” whale watching. It was amazing. I actually petted baby whales in the wild. Stop and think about that for a minute: WILD BABY WHALES. I got to pet some of the moms, too. It was always this crazy moment–we’d be looking at the baby and thinking, “Wow, that’s huge,” and then the mom would surface, and we’d all shriek.

Tell us about a place that brings you joy, or is attached to a memory of joy.

I was in a very rustic ecological refuge. Every day we went out on pangas (boats that are used for fishing during other parts of the year.) I never get seasick, and I love being out on the water, so it was just magical to be out there in the perfect blue of the ocean, watching for whales.

Tell us about a sound that brings you joy.

I’m sure you’re waiting for me to say the whale songs, except these were gray whales, and gray whales don’t make that sort of noise. So I’ll just go with the aforementioned shriek of surprise when the mama whale surfaced.

What recent book have you read that brought you joy. (Or a book you read in your life that brought you so much joy you’ve never forgotten it.) Why?

Well, since I’m piggybacking on Jenni’s page, I’m going to choose one of hers. When I read her debut novel, What Happens in Scotland, I was kind of nervous, because we had already become good friends, and there is nothing worse than when you realize you don’t much like your writer friend’s writing. But I needn’t have worried–I loved it! And it just kind of made me extra happy because it sounded like her, and it’s always fun to “hear” your friends in their writing.

And for fun, the joy of choice ~

Pick your Chris! Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, Chris Rock, Chris Evans or Christopher Plummer (circ. 1964 aka Capt. Von Trapp?) – trying for a little diversity! ;o)

Pratt. Totally.

And Meredith Duran

Tell us about a moment in your life when you experienced sheer joy. 
Tell us about a place that brings you joy, or is attached to a memory of joy.

I quite inadvertently answered both of these questions at once!

About three hours into a hike in Yosemite National Park, two hours after the realization that I forgot to wear deodorant (EEK – forgive me, fellow hikers), and an hour after turning my ankle—but still four hours from our destination, I heard a low distant hypnotic murmur that drew me off trail.  The sound led me through a stand of Jeffrey pines that smelled like butterscotch, into a clearing of scrubby lichen-covered boulders – and there, I lost my breath.

That strange distant sound was a waterfall plummeting from the soaring granite cliffs on the opposite side of the valley. Between that waterfall and where I stood was—nothing. Empty space. A free-fall of thousands and thousands of feet. The sound of a low wind whispered through the stunted trees that clung to the vertical walls plunging straight into the valley below.

Glancing to the left, I found Half Dome’s stony face in profile to me, fiercely outlined by a sky so electrically blue that I winced behind my sunglasses. And all around me, as the wind strengthened and cooled my sweat-soaked nape, I smelled butterscotch and wildflowers and felt the warmth of the sun.

My husband had followed me; as he joined my side, he caught my hand and squeezed. We stood there in silence for a very long time.

Joy is often wordless. It needs no words.

Tell us about a sound that brings you joy.

When I’m visiting my parents, I receive the most delightful wake-up call. Our dog, Fred, comes to visit my bedroom at half-past seven, then grows frustrated that I’m still asleep. He spends the next half hour snuffling at the crack beneath the door while making these frustrated, piteous, imploring little whines. I am not a morning person (that is putting it lightly, in fact), but when at home, I wake up with a laugh every morning—and as soon as I laugh, Fred hears it and starts to dance with delight, his paws audibly scrabbling on the hardwood floor, because he knows I’m about to open the door for him. And so I laugh harder yet.

No day could begin more wonderfully.

What recent book have you read that brought you joy. (Or a book you read in your life that brought you so much joy you’ve never forgotten it.) Why?

My sister’s debut novel (Insignia, by SJ Kincaid). I was so extraordinarily proud of her, so amazed and overwhelmed by her talent, that I floated on air for about a week after finishing it.

And for fun, the joy of choice ~

Pick your Chris! Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, Chris Rock, Chris Evans or Christopher Plummer (circ. 1964 aka Capt. Von Trapp?) – trying for a little diversity! ;o)

How about Krrish, Hrithik Roshan’s superhero character in the 2006 film of that name? Because… c’mon, check out his skill with a rapier. No Chris on the planet has a shot against this: watch this you tube clip.

And Jennifer McQuiston!

Tell us about a moment in your life when you experienced sheer joy. 

I grew up with horses, but when my husband and I moved to Atlanta, it became quickly apparent a horse was not going to reasonably be a part of my future. The cost of boarding a horse in Atlanta is just crazy, and I was sadly resigned to being a horse-less family. Until I sold a book, that is, an event that changed my family’s life and brought us amazing joy. You see, the deal I made with husband was that if I sold a book, we could afford to get a horse. My kids were thrilled, but secretly so was I. Two weeks after selling my first book to Avon, Beaux Regard the pony came into our lives, a joyous experience that keeps on giving. We haven’t stopped smiling since.

Tell us about a place that brings you joy, or is attached to a memory of joy.

My family draws great joy from travelling all over the world, but our favorite place in the entire world is St. John on the US Virgin Islands. I can think of no more peaceful, joyous place than the white-sugar sand beach and brilliant blue water of Cinnamon Bay, and no greater joy than being here with my family.

Tell us about a sound that brings you joy.

When we drive up to the barn to see our pony Beaux Regard, he always whinnies to us in greeting. That is a sound that brings me great joy: it means he loves us as much as we love him.

What recent book have you read that brought you joy. (Or a book you read in your life that brought you so much joy you’ve never forgotten it.) Why?

In 1999 I had the privilege of deploying to Ghana in West Africa for 3 months to work on the noble goal of polio eradication for the CDC. It was the first time I had ever travelled out of the country, and I took 5 books in my suitcase, thinking they would last me. Silly me…I was done with those 5 books in the first week. Three long months loomed ahead of me and I was starting to panic because I was about to go out into one of the most remote parts of the country, tracking down its last polio cases. What was I going to do, locked in my room every night after dark?

And then, almost by accident, I discovered a lovely used bookstore in Accra featuring battered old American books. I bought twenty books and took them with me, and then replaced them the next time I returned to Accra on my way to another region. Those books truly served as a lifeline and I discovered the amazing author Ken Follett, reading his 1980’s Pakistan love story called Lie Down With Lions. It was the first time I could remember thinking about an author and how he approached the art of story-telling, rather than just blindly enjoying the story. I have since read every book Follett has ever written, and enjoyed them all, but Lie Down With Lions remains my all-time favorite book, probably because it came at such a critical time in my life.

And for fun, the joy of choice ~

Pick your Chris! Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, Chris Rock, Chris Evans or Christopher Plummer (circ. 1964 aka Capt. Von Trapp?) – trying for a little diversity! ;o)

I am going with Chris Rock…. I LOVE a man with a sense of humor, and he always makes20150705_193502 me laugh.

Jennifer is generously giving away one copy of her latest book, Diary of an Accidental Wallflower, and this beautiful necklace featuring the word “JOY” in Morse code, to both US and international readers.

 

mhs_2088.e1.lrJennifer McQuiston is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Victorian-era historical romance, including What Happens in Scotland,  Summer is for Lovers, and Moonlight on My Mind, as well as the novella, Her Highland Fling. The latest book, Diary of an Accidental Wallflower, is available now.

A veterinarian and disease detective with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Jennifer has always preferred reading romance to scientific textbooks. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, two daughters (who got a pony out of mom’s book deal!), and a house full of pets.

Follow her online:

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