Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month 2016!
If you’re a new visitor to RARM, I hope you’ll come back every day in August to read all the wonderful pro-romance posts this year. Check out the full calendar here. You can also find links to the last three years’ posts from the boxes in the sidebar, and if you’d like, you can follow RARM on Facebook. Enjoy August!
I’m gonna go way back in time with this … and I can go surprisingly far back with Romance books.
You know how folks who grow up to be athletes talk about playing soccer or skiing right from when they were kids. They just jumped into the pool or kicked a soccer ball and it was magic to them. Natural and right.
I am a reading athlete. I slapped up against my first complex books and it was like they were ham and I was eggs. They were peanut butter and I was jelly. They were gin and I was tonic. Like that.
Why Romance though?
Along about fourth grade I was reading piles of science fiction and adventure books. Loving them. But I couldn’t help but notice these books were all about boys and men travelling to other planets. About boys and men having adventures. And, with the notable exception of Nancy Drew, about boys and men solving mysteries. Women existed in these books, of course, but they were always secondary to the heroic folks who were doing the important stuff, who were, as I mentioned, male.
I found those stories in Romance.
They were big, sprawling Romances in those days. (Jo gets a far-away look in her eye.) You picked up a book and you had your leisure time committed for the next week. Heroines crossed the Atlantic to settle in the new world or rebelled against the King of France. Or both. They swung swords in Medieval castles, avenging their family honor. They tamed their Viking captor while they competently fought off his enemies. Or they, like, bent the ton to their imperious will. They got stuff done.
Now, in those very early days when I started reading Romance, I was not so much in love with the heroes as I was living the challenging life of the heroine. The hero was along for the ride, as it were, on the heroine’s adventures.
It took a while, but somewhere along the line, when I was thirteen or fourteen, I kinda blinked and noticed the hero. I can even tell you the first hero I noticed with any attention. It was Jeoffrey de Peyrac in the Angelique series by Sergeanne Golon. Jeoffrey, scarred, brilliant nobleman and scientist in Louis XIVs France.
Now, the thirteen- and fourteen-year-old boys who surrounded me were not, so much, interesting. They couldn’t swordfight or play the lute, for instance, and they didn’t have the King of France lusting for their blood.
But, at heart, those boys were trying to be larger-than-life heroes like nobleman Jeoffrey de Peyrac, just as I was wishing to be the brave and beautiful Angelique. Their dreams and mine met and touched, somewhere in our imagination. Maybe, just a little, it’s the fictional heroes of Romance who taught me to love and admire men.
That’s a bit of what Romance authors do, I think. We craft a heroic story. We tell what might be. We create the happy endings. And our readers go out in the world to find the real-life heroes waiting for them.
Joanna Bourne recommends:
Here’s five folks I greatly enjoy reading.
Deanna Raybourn – www.deannaraybourn.com (at Amazon) gives us complexity and subtlety. Several layers in everything that’s happening and heroines who are, in Heyer’s phrase, not just in the common way.
And I hope you’ll check out Gambled Away (at Amazon), the historical anthology I did with four other great romance writers:
Questions for the Author:
Tell us about a moment in your life when you felt romance surrounding you.
Is there anything more romantic than moonlight over the sea? So many nights I’ve looked across a wide dark ocean with a road of light stretched toward the moon.
Full moon and high tide and the sound of water dragging and crashing on the sand. I stand with the wind in my face, knowing a million lovers have looked at the same moon and the same ocean down through the age.
I imagine this scene and I get
“It’s only a paper moon
Sailing over a cardboard sea,
But it wouldn’t be make believe
If you believe in me …”
caught in my head, which isn’t so romantic maybe, but I have no control over my subconscious. I’m afraid it’s frightfully pedestrian.
Tell us about someone special in your life (other than your partner) with whom you share romance.
Oh dear. I’m going to be all pedestrian again.
I talk about life and love with my grown-up daughter. She is so wise. Also, usefully, she keeps me up to date on the social scene. I would be cheerfully living in the Twentieth Century, completely out of touch, without the Dear Daughter.
Do you have a place in the world or a sound that you equate with romance?
There is a tropical island off in the South Pacific. It’s not too hot, but the sun is bright. The winds blow steadily across trees full of huge brilliant flowers. The water is clear as the air, full of fish that seem to hang suspended by nothing at all. You don’t have to wear clothes and the shells you pick up on the beach are colored like the flowers.
Maybe it’s Tahiti. It’s somewhere I’ve never been. There are waterfalls.
Who is your (or a) favorite romantic couple?
Eve Dallas and Roarke. I love them both and I love them together. Brilliant creation.
Tell us about your dream date.
He’s tall, dark, and not handsome. He’s clever with talking but he also does silences well.
We’re in Paris in the 1920s. He knows so many people — the great creative artists, the ancient men selling prints by the Seine, a street sweeper from Tunisia. We walk along the river in the darkness, not saying much. We cross to the Left Bank to go to a Jazz Club on a tiny street. A man from New Orleans plays. On the other side of the room Hemingway gets a little drunk and starts speaking reading his latest work with flamboyant gestures. Picasso, tanned dark, shrugs.
We drink absinthe and listen to the music and stare into one another’s eyes. Pastries happen.
Joanna Bourne is generously giving away five books, one each to five winners, US only (apologies to international friends). Winners may pick any of Joanna’s books they’d like, or take pot luck. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below or on the Facebook post you’ll find here (or both – Share the Love!) ;o) by 11:59 pm PST Aug 7, 2016. Good luck!
(*You don’t have to like the FB page, but we do recommend it. It’s easier to contact you if you win. Also consider joining the Read-A-Romance Book Club page, where we discuss romance of all kinds and will have drawings and events throughout the year.)
I write historical fiction set in Revolutionary and Napoleonic France and Regency England. It was a time of love and sacrifice, clashing ideals, and really cool clothing. I live in the Appalachian Mountains with a view out over the countryside, sharing it with my brown mutt and a peculiar cat.
Buy Joanna Bourne’s books:
*Please note that the Amazon button, most cover images and many text links connect to a Read-A-Romance affiliate portal. Thanks so much for your help and support!