Wednesday 30 March 2022

Age is just a number?

 Readers of romance are said to have expectations - the biggest being that the  book will end with a Happy Ever After, or at least a Happy for Now. If it doesn't, it may be a love story, c.f. Romeo and Juliet, but it is not a romance. One of the lesser known but often debated issues amongst romance writers is the age of hero and heroine. 

Convention suggests that heroines are within the range early twenties to early thirties and late twenties to late thirties for heroes. Old enough to have a bit of experience of life and ready to settle down and start a family? Hero needs to be slightly older so more established in his career, etc. Received wisdom is that that is what  readers like and are reluctant to accept anything outside those limits, even if they are not themselves in those age brackets. I don't recall ever encountering any research into the topic - be interesting to know if there is any. It seems like one of those chicken and egg situations where readers rarely get offered alternatives because it's believed that that book won't sell.

The issue is in my mind at the moment because I am reading Nora Robert's Hideaway in which hero and heroine begin as children and then move on to late teens. I haven't finished it yet, but I gather from reviews that they don't go any further than that. I'm enjoying the book because well - Nora, but the fact that some reviewers picked up on the age thing suggests it is an issue.  There are plenty of ensemble cast of all ages in the book and and the majority of relationships are strong, which is a big attraction and which is a plus as far as I am concerned.  

I'm particularly interested in this one, as when I submitted my very first effort at romantic suspense to the Romantic Novelists' Association's New Writers' Scheme, after many experiments in other genres, I was called out on exactly that point. In the first half of the book the hero and heroine are both teenagers, although they are ten years older in the second half. I was told that a reader would not be interested in such a young couple. I put the book away in the bottom drawer, but over the years it has tugged at me and still does. I have an idea to revive it but yes, the teenage romance will be a shorter flashback middle section  just in case. 

What about a mature couple? Again this is meant to be less popular and to be honest I can't think of anything I have read where an older couple has centre stage, although that might say more for my conventional reading habits than the books that are on offer! Hundred year old vampires don't count. 

For my own books I do like a slightly older heroine and in A Wedding on the Riviera Nadine is actually a couple of years older than Ryan, which felt very daring at the time, but no one seems to have noticed! 

I'm wondering a bit about the WIP as for reasons of plot the heroine is twenty seven and the hero thirty six, which is a wider age gap than I usually have. Masie is very mature, so again, I hope no one will notice!

Wednesday 23 March 2022

March is my favourite month?

 I think it might be - simply because with the passing of the equinox there are only longer days and shorter nights to look forward to. Other than that milestone, it's been a quiet week. I'm deeply enmeshed in getting Riviera 4 from handwritten to typed draft, so everything else has got a bit blurred. I did make some rather timid attempts at getting some order in the garden, as the sun was shining. It's high on my agenda for this year, along with some other things that need doing inside the house. Other than that, nothing much. I discovered a huge plot hole on Sunday and it took me most of the day to fill it - but that is much better than having your editor point it out to you much later in the proceedings. 

Returning to that equinox - which means that a quarter of the year is gone already! Those points in the year - equinox, solstice, the various old festivals like Beltane, Lammas and Samhain always stir up a long held idea of writing something that would encompass the atmosphere that they might create. I suspect Mary Stewart's Wildfire at Midnight may have something to do with that as the Beltane fires are an integral part of the story. 

For the moment I'm still on the Riviera and enjoying it. 

Wednesday 16 March 2022

It's finished!

 A bitter sweet moment as I have just finished the hand written draft of Riviera Book 4. Feels like I am saying goodbye to my characters, but actually the work goes on as the typing and editing is next. That's not so much fun though. I love the discovery of the characters, the journey, the falling in love, the nearly getting killed ... 

I don't like it when I don't have a WIP in progress, even when I sometimes can't get near it for days when life intervenes. 

There is always the big question too - will the readers approve it? It's certainly not like the other three books - but they are not like each other. A lot of work goes into a book and as my reason for writing them is so that people will enjoy reading them, it matters.

The next big question is how soon can I get the nuts and bolts stuff done? Sometimes it seems to take forever. I'd really like to get this one out during the summer, rather than a September release like the last two, when they tend to run into the back of the new releases for Christmas. 

Typing, editing, fact checking - now the real work starts. 

I'll let you know how things go. 

Wednesday 9 March 2022

What a night!

 Well, I didn't win the Jackie Collins Award for Romantic Thriller 2022. I didn't really expect to - and big congratulations to friend Sue Fortin who took the trophy home. 

What I did have was a fabulous night. It was so good to see friends that I have not met in real life in ages, and to be part of a big event  totally dedicated to celebrating romantic fiction. There was food, conversation, lots of that, celebration and laughter. I got my name and a pic of the book cover in the programme, a certificate which I think I shall frame, and my name badge had a sparkly red heart to show I was a nominee. I had my picture taken with the other finalists, which will probably surface in due course. I hope I don't have my eyes closed and my mouth open - although if I do it will not be for the first time. 

I had a lovely night, catching up with old friends and making new ones and it really was a night to remember. As a nominee I got a lot of congratulations and the warmth and excitement of the evening, with so many people meeting up after so long, was noticeable. I doubt I will ever have the experience again, and I made the most of it. On the wardrobe front - in the event I couldn't get into either of the dresses - not if I still wanted to be able to breathe as well - too much chocolate at Christmas, I'm afraid. I ended up with a green jumpsuit which is more forgiving, with blue shoes and bag, so I matched the cover of the book quite nicely. 

The rest of the weekend was lovely too, particularly  spending Sunday afternoon in the Egyptian rooms of the British Museum, researching for the WIP. I'm glad to say that the first draft of that is very nearly finished. Now I am back home and back to reality, I need to make progress with it.

Wednesday 2 March 2022

By This Time Next Week

 It's getting closer. 

The winners of the Romantic Novelists' Association awards will be announced at an event on 7th March, so by this time next week we will know. 

Am I expecting to win? Hoping - maybe. Expecting - really? No. The competition is fierce , with some incredibly talented and successful authors in the list, several of whom are also friends. I have loved being a finalist. It is amazing to know that readers enjoyed your work and to have recognition from your professional organisation. It is a dream come true and one that I really never expected to have, although you do always hope. 

Whatever happens it will be a fabulous night - not least because I will be seeing friends and fellow authors who I haven't seen for years - you all know why that is! 

The big question of the moment is - of course - what are you going to wear? My mum was a professional dressmaker and I would like to wear something she made me. I have a wonderful dress, floor length and covered in sequins, that was made for a romance convention ball in America. Everyone in my 'team'  is urging me to choose that one, but I really think it is a bit OTT for an early evening function, however swish. I have another dress which I wore when I won the Joan Hessayon Award - short and svelte - well, when I get the scaffolding underneath organised. Even after ten years it still fits, although it is a little more snug these days. It's easier to breath in than the sequins. I think that will be the one. 

Whatever the choice, and win or lose, it will be a memorable night. 

Tuesday 1 March 2022

March 1st - St David's Day

 Happy St David's Day. 

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus

St David is the patron saint of Wales, celebrated with daffodils, leeks and maybe a Welsh cake or two. 

(I'll be celebrating with fellow members of the RNA Cariad Chapter. Won't be wearing my national costume, but there will be cake!)