LIBRARIES, LOVE, AND HAPPILY EVER AFTER
I grew up in a suburb of Cape Town (South Africa) with a wonderful library. The building was over a hundred years old, two stories, with a sweeping mahogany staircase leading up to the second floor. No one under 13 was allowed up those stairs. No exceptions.
In the Children’s Library I read my way through every book, short story, piece of loose paper, envelope, or shopping list used as bookmarks, I was ready to go upstairs. MORE than ready!
On my thirteenth birthday the best present from my mother was a brand new library card. I burst into tears, I was so happy. That year, my birthday fell on a Sunday. Talk about bad timing! Worse, the library was closed on Monday’s. I had ants in my pants, and a list as long as my arm of the books I would check out the second I walked through those double, mahogany doors on the second floor. But I had to wait 48 long, anticipatory, hours.
On Tuesday morning, my parents (yes, my father actually took the morning off work for this momentous occasion, and they allowed me to go to school late because, for goodness sake! I could not possibly have waited until 3:30!) and I waited in the car outside for the doors to open at nine. I had, of course, been wide awake and bushytailed since 5 A.M.
When the heavy, carved door opened, the three of us were standing there in the pouring rain. I didn’t care. I would have dashed through the first crack as the door was unlocked and pulled open. OMG! It opened so sloooowly!
My heart started pounding so hard, I gripped my Mom’s hand in case I fainted before I got upstairs. I have never in my life been that excited, and filled with quite that much anticipation as that day. (Not even on my Honeymoon – but that’s another story.)
With my parents on either side of me, I stood at the base of those sweeping, mahogany stairs, frozen in my tracks, savoring the moment. I’d waited so long for this I could hardly breathe. The treads were worn from over a hundred years of feet going up and down them. The swooping gracefully curved banister was satiny smooth (I knew, because I’d been stroking the bottom curve of it for years as I looked up longingly) from thousands of hands (and probably bottoms) sliding down it.
My father crooked his elbow in a sweetly gallant gesture which I’ve never forgotten. I slipped my hand around his arm, and together, the three of us ascended.
My memory has a choir of angels singing on the top landing, and white doves swooping overhead, but I’m pretty sure the Rondebosch Public Library would have frowned on singing and bird poop, so it probably didn’t happen that way.
When we reached the top of the stairs, taken in complete and reverent silence, my father reached over and pushed opened the double doors.
The smell hit me first. Paper. Leather. Dust. Books. Adventure. Romance. I had to just stand there and take it in. THEN I gave my Librarian The List.
Number One: Gone With The Wind. Ahhhhh Bliss. Loved and hated Scarlett, and started writing the moment I closed that book. I rewrote the end many, many times(It was only years, and maturity, later that I knew the ending was absolutely perfect.)
I’ve been a romance writer ever since. It’s the best job in the world and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Questions for Cherry:
What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?
A tough question to ask an ex-interior designer. I , of course, think everything in my house is gorgeous. But, unfortunately, this question is far too easy to answer. Hand’s down my darling husband’s favorite original oil painting which hangs with pride in our living room (See how much I love this man?!) Driving past a garage sale he saw this masterpiece, and knew I’d love it, and it would be absolutely perfect in our home. (Say what?!) This is a man who doesn’t want to have a garage sale, let alone one who stops and purchases anything at one. Nor has he ever bought anything decorative for the house. The subject matter of this work of art is always a conversation piece. The blue sections: A woman’s naked breast? The back end of some sort of farm animal? The lemon/lime green section: A man’s elbow? Possibly the lemon/lime green nose of a hippopotamus with sinus problems? The fuchsia section: A telephone? A cyborg? A piece of silly putty? Over all this is a clear wash (unfortunately too clear!) of fog-gray with lumps of. . .Personally I think lumps of cauliflower. But that’s just my opinion. As I said, I love my first husband.
If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?)
Up All Night. Because, well, I usually am up all night- writing. With my husband upstairs asleep, and both dogs snoozing under my desk, the midnight hours are my most productive. I love watching the sun rise as I’m off to bed. The Carrie Wells character played by Poppy Montgomery in Unforgettable should play me. We have the same color hair (I think we might use the same formula for this natural red of ours lol) and while I thinks she’s very attractive, I’d kill for that memory. I don’t remember if I had breakfast most days, let alone remember what it was.
What is the best non-monetary gift you ever received?
My first Library Card.
If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be? (Any picks for romance novels in general?)
Jake and Marnie from KISS and TELL, I loved their dynamic, and really loved how free and without angst Marnie was. She was Jake’s polar opposite, and watching him fall in love with her was so much fun to watch and write.
You are reading this essay at ReadARomanceMonth.com. Be sure to visit the About Read-A-Romance Month to learn more, or the Authors & Contributors page to see a list of all the great romance writers who are participating in celebrating the romance genre during the month of August. Also visit the Awesome Contests page to see how you can register each week to win “A Month of Romance” (31 books), e-readers, and even the Grand Central Grand Prize, an iPad mini. If you love romance, then this is the place to be!
Cherry is generously donating an e-book (ICE COLD, or the enhanced collectors editions of KISS and TELL or OUT OF SIGHT) to three U.S. readers (U.S. only, apologies to international readers.). U.S. readers, to enter, either leave a comment here or enter the weekly drawing on the contest page. Or both. (Only one entry per commenter per post, though – multiple comments on one essay does not give you more chances.) Comment entries must be posted by 11:59pm EST Aug 21 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.
New York Times and USAToday bestselling author Cherry Adair has carved a niche for herself with her sexy, sassy, fast-paced, action adventure novels which have appeared on numerous bestsellers lists, won dozens of awards, and garnered praise from reviewers and fans alike. She’s written over 30 novels and novellas, hates first drafts, has a passion for mentoring unpublished writers, and is hard at work on three series – T-FLAC, CUTTER CAY and LODESTONE. You can find Cherry online at CherryAdair.com