Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Temptation Tuesday - Romance In The 21st Century

This Tuesday at The Pink Heart Society our very own Trish Wylie looks at the changing face of Romance in The 21st Century and how it's influencing some of the plots making their way into those little category romances we all love so much...

It's coming up on ten years since they remade the 1940's James Stewart film Shop Around The Corner into the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan film You've Got Mail. Can you believe that? And I can remember thinking at the time it was something completely new...

A couple meeting through the internet and not knowing each other when they meet in real life? HOW CLEVER. Little did I know that there was an original version and that in that one they sent letters the old fashioned way...

But realistically it was merely a sign of the changing times. And as we all know category romances have always managed to change with the times - otherwise they wouldn't still be here - it was only a matter of time before new and innovative ideas began to make their way onto the page.
I know I've done it. The first time I was influenced was with my fifth book - The Wedding Surprise - where I had a heroine who entered into a reality Tv contest where she had to fool all her friends and family into think she was marrying someone she'd met through the internet. The inspiration for this? A reality TV Show funnily enough...

I was searching frantically for a new plot and one day at work, during lunch break, we caught the very last part of the very last episode of My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance. I hadn't been watching it and frankly most of it was a tad silly to me, but that last wedding scene came on and a lightbulb went off over my head. I thought - what if the couple actually fell in love? What if he was less of the 'obnoxious' but still lying to her? What would the heroine feel when she discovered the truth having fallen in love? And hence a story was born...

And there are plenty of Reality TV shows, let's face it! On speaking to Melissa McClone at the RWA Conference in Dallas this summer she talked about another one I hadn't seen - The Amazing Race - and how it gave her that initial spark of inspiration for the book she'd been recently working on... And I KNOW there have been Desert Island stories similar to the premise of Reality TV Show Survivor.
Now I'm not so sure Big Brother or any of the celebrity-stuck-in-a-jungle kind of things could provide much inspiration - and Beauty and the Geek might prove a tad of a hard sell unless we reversed the roles and had a gorgeous hero and a 'bookish' heroine - but are there other Reality TV Shows that could provide a plot for a category romance? What do YOU think? Or has the flood of these shows on TV been enough already for you???

In my sixth book I looked at modern day romance possibilities again. In O'Reilly's Bride - aka The Pineapple to those in the know - we had a heroine who went in search of love on an internet dating site to avoid what she thought she couldn't have in real life with the man she worked every day with and had grown to love. I even had a look at dating sites as part of my research and lemme tell you - those things are huuuuggggeeeee now!!! Some of them a little scary it has to be said - but very much a sign of the times when so many busy people find it easier to chat to someone online and form an attachment on the mental side before seeing if the attachment is also possible in the real 'physical sense'. And I KNOW I'm not the first to tackle this area either - in fact we know we have several PHS members who met their husbands online! So it's not anything all that new really, is it?

Blogging is of course HUGE now. The very fact you're here proves that ;) And look how many authors have blogs and how publishers are following suit with the likes of the highly successful IHeart Presents Blog and the blog of Harlequin's Isabel Swift... so it was only really a matter of time before Blogging entered the little books we love so much. Like in Nicola Marsh's Modern Extra Two Week Mistress where each chapter started with an excerpt from hero Bo Bradford's daily blog... Another sign of the times...

And then of course there's the phenomenon of the mobile phone/blackberry/iphone - they're as much a part of life these days as breathing in and out. And many's a relationship is built or broken up via text, right? So naturally they're going to make it into category romance - Ally Blake for instance has mobile phones as part of her plot in her upcoming Modern Heat The Magnate's Indecent Proposal and texting has certainly been in a few stories I know of... yet another sign of the times...

Speed dating, we've done it - sperm bank pregnancies, done a long time since - inter-office emails, yes our Ally and Nic have covered that one too! And it's ALL a sign of the way dating and meeting people has changed in the 21st Century. What's next I wonder?

So have you read a book that's had a modern day twist? Have you been tempted to add some of these new ways of meeting people to your stories? Do we like them or prefer the more *traditional* methods of boy meets girl?? Or maybe you met your partner under unusual circumstances and you'd like to tell us about it?

You never know - your real-life story might make it into the pages of one of those little books we all love so much...
H's & K's
*Warning! SHAMELESS PLUG TO FOLLOW (cos it's Trish's FAVOURITE book)*

Trish's next book is for Modern Heat and is the first book she'll have released in Mills & Boon's Centenery Year!!!

His Mistress: His Terms is the one she refers to as *The Fairy Dust* book, because with the help and support of her Blog readers it was written from start to finish in three weeks flat!

Rule 1 – Keep it strictly professional
Rich, gorgeous playboy Alex Fitzgerald has his sights set on Merrow O’Connell. Initially he needs just her interior design skills, but soon they’re on different terms – she’s perfect mistress material!
Rule 2 – Never mix business with pleasure…
Alex is determined to break all the rules and have the Irish beauty in his bed – and Merrow can’t argue with the boss! But she’s learned not to let anyone get close, and is determined to stay free and single. So what will she do when the billionaire playboy suddenly wants her to be more than just his mistress…?

Rule 3 – This boss always gets his way!"

The book will be available at the Mills & Boon site from next month and can be pre-ordered at Amazon And you can read an excerpt here.

You can discover more about Trish and her books at her Website or her Blog


  1. I recently read a book published in 1994 that had the hero checking his electronic mail, with a little explanation of what that was. Hi-tech back then, taken for granted now. Times are changing, and quickly! I've included cell phones in my books, but not as central to the plot. I'm a bit of a technophobe--I need to take a crash course in Technology for Writers :).

    Kate H.

  2. LOL You and me BOTH Kate. For the follow up to this book I had a guy I knew would be into the top of the range everything when it came to gadgets...

    This led to an hour spent with my teenage nephew explaining to me what the new generation of mobile phones can and can't do. Me? I like em to ring and I answer em and vice versa...

    And any internet knowledge I have these days was gained by more error than trial. Though it was a tight race between the two!

  3. Have to admit, I've used tecchy stuff for years in my books - and I'm probably guilty of writing about email or similarly geeky stuff in stories in the very early 1990s :o)

    I used reality TV for 'In the Gardener's Bed' - the whole premise was a lifeswap between two people who are complete opposites (city girl and country boy).

    And I've used texts/emails/IMing in various books. (I don't have a Blackberry or an iPhone - but I do use a PDA as it's just brilliant for scribbling down ideas and making notes. (Thank you, Fiona Harper.) And it's much more portable and has a bigger screen than an Alphie - Trish, you've seen it and you admitted it was fabulous *g*)

  4. I first used text messaging in His Runaway Bride which I wrote five years ago. I do think email, texting and all this fabulous technology is a great enhancer of the romance plot, just as the letter and diary has been in the past. Not that the letter and diary are dead... Oh, no...

  5. Gosh, now I feel like a comple plonker - or is that plodder. I tend to avoid technology in my stories without even realising it.

    I even had my latest hero use a fountain pen to write notes to the heroine when, let's face it, he probably would have texted her being a hotel tycoon and all. And my Mile High Club hero (second Mod Ex, currently on shelves in the UK, plug, plug, plug) hated mobiles and loved black and white movies (just like me basically). I do like the sound of that PDA thing though, Kate.

    Speaking of technology, have spent all day today trying to sort out a mobile phone problem - basically I'm getting bills for a phone I don't own! Aparently it's a spot of identity theft! Now that's a modern phenomenon that's just given me a great idea for a story....

  6. Thanks for the plug, Trish! This is the second time I used a reality TV show to inspire a plot. I had a SR set on a deserted island ala Survivor where they had to do challenges to earn supplies. And another of my SR had a billionaire being sent to work on a berry farm ala Paris Hilton's Simple Life but I had already completed that manuscript before the show came on! Both of these books were with a continuing character who liked to send friends on adventures.

    I was surprised I got to do my Amazing Race book (out in December) since it's so reality TV oriented. The hero and hero are followed the entire time by a sound guy and a cameraman. But it was fun and different for me since it's set around the globe in 8 or 9 countries and just tells me HR is open to new ideas.

    I love how authors are taking romance into the technology age since that such a huge part of life. I have never done much with the texting or Internet part, but cellphone technology plays a key role in an upcoming 2008 release.