Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Temptation Tuesday - Reminiscing

I was going to talk about gianduja (aka ‘better than sex’ chocolate, as my heroines call it in my London City General trilogy) – but as my favourite supplier has changed their product listings this month and it’s currently unavailable, talking about it when I can’t have it is kind of like rubbing salt in the wound. (Especially when I have a screaming deadline and am in need of the stuff. Sob.)

So instead I’m going to talk about another of my favourite indulgences – especially as I’ve been talking about it on my blog recently and it seems I’m not the only one....


My current memory-fest started when my daughter was practising songs for her school choir’s concert – and it included a song from Grease. (Yes, I know it was 1978. Almost the 80s. Bear with me.) I bought her the DVD, and she absolutely loved it.

Then I noticed the kind of things that are being played on the radio at the moment – either 80s originals or cover versions. And what do they have on Wii Boogie? Songs such as ‘Walking on Sunshine’ and ‘Karma Chameleon’. Definitely 80s. (And yes, I get nagged into doing those ones with the kids.)

And then I was flicking through a magazine when I noticed the kind of clothes and make-up that seem trendy right now. Ra-ra skirts, coloured tights, and blue mascara... (Please, someone tell me that legwarmers, poodle perms and mullets are not coming back! I admit, Jon Bon Jovi managed to look good in a bad perm - but he's an exception and would look good in just about anything. Just to make the point, look at how gorgeous he is now with a decent haircut.)

Terrible hair, terrible clothes, shoulder pads and strong perfumes. Not to mention terrible dancing (Fame had a lot to answer for). I remember it all, first time round. And I’ve been having a wonderful time reminiscing about it lately!

But this isn't just self-indulgence. It’s also quite helpful for a writer to reminisce. Why? Well, when you think about what reminds you of the decade when you had your first kiss/met the love of your life (which is the position your heroine is in, in your book), the things you remember are the same kind of things that will have an impact on your heroine. The music, the clothes, the films, the food, the scents... Obviously you won’t put them all on the page (you’re not going to make the mistake of burying your reader under an information dump), but if you know your characters well you’ll be aware of the kind of things they notice.

And – this is the crunch bit – how these things make them feel. Because that’s what a category romance novel is all about: the emotion.

Got a baby or children in the story? That’s your chance to reminisce about your own pregnancy (or, if you don’t have children, a close friend or relative’s pregnancy, and the first time you held that child). The first smile, the first word, the first tooth, the first step, the first day at school, the first visit from the tooth fairy – all things that will have an impact on your hero and heroine. How did those events make you feel? Your hero/heroine is likely to feel the same way. (Or you can twist it and add something completely different, start a chain of what-ifs, and end up in a completely different place. But it's the initial reminiscence that'll start it off.)

Weddings? Oh, yes. The moment you exchanged your vows, the first dance, the cake, the flowers. (Even now, when we go to a wedding, DH and I hold hands that little bit more tightly as the vows are exchanged, and at the reception we remember our own first dance. According to Son, we start looking all soppy...)

Reminiscing, and remembering how things make you feel, can help you add that extra layer or two to your book. True, you might never wear blue mascara again... but you can remember how you feel when you put it on. The possibilities that life held, and all the dreams.

So come and tell me one of your favourite memories – 80s-based or otherwise. Something that’ll put a smile on your face even on a rainy Tuesday morning. Whether it's glittery hairspray, a fashion mistake or something that really rocked your world.

I'll start. This is probably something that people in the UK might remember most, so I apologise in advance - and it's definitely an 80s moment. There was a record by a band called Splogenessabounds: 'Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please'. Now, given that I was working as a barmaid (no, not 'working as a waitress in a cocktail bar' - this isn't a Human League moment) when I first met my husband, care to guess what his first words to me were? (Honestly. They really were!)

Kate Hardy has a few books out this month.

In the UK, on shelves you can find the first in her To Tame a Playboy duo, Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh (Modern Heat’s first sheikh! And if you give it another 10 days you’ll be able to get an early copy of the second in the duo - Playboy Boss, Pregnancy of Passion - from the M&B website); plus the second half of the London Victoria duo, The Children’s Doctor’s Special Proposal. You can get them both on the M&B website in the UK (and the Med is still available at eHarlequin in the US – sorry, you’ll have to wait until July for the Sheikh). And in Australia you can get an early copy of The Children’s Doctor’s Special Proposal on the Harlequin website.

You can find out more about these books, and Kate, on her website (http://www.katehardy.com/) and her blog (http://katehardy.blogspot.com/)


  1. Kate;

    I found you blogging about memories again and I wanted to be the first to leave a comment. I remember more now than I did when you first started remembering the eighties. For me it was the curly perm. On this side of the Atlantic anyway we had short hair and tight curly perms. I would try to get mine a little less tight and then let my hair grow quite long to get a sort of halo effect. The bigger and bushier the hair the better. I am vertically challenged so I used the hair to add a bit of height.

    The eighties music I remember most are artists like Bruce Springstein, "Born in the USA" and Billy Joel "Uptown Girl" It was at this time I started listening to Canadian "East Coast Music" groups like Ryans Fancy, Great Big Sea, and later Rawlins Cross - true celtic rock with synthesized traditional instruments like bagpipes and a return to traditional ballads with artists like John McDermott singing "Willie McBride"

    Enjoy your post.


  2. My kids are eighties fanatics, every Saturday morning I crank up the 80s CDs and we clean the house. And they now know all the tunes, even my four year old sings The Reflex! I'm just glad they haven't taken on the old hairstyles...too much product!

  3. Fun post, Kate! I remember using lashings of green mascara when I was 13. I thought I looked very sophisticated yet edgy. Thankfully, I don't have any photographic evidence to prove this. In retrospect, it made me look like a muppet.

  4. Linda - lovely to see you here! Me too on the vertically challenged bit (sigh - like Garfield, I am undertall...)

    Thanks for the pointers re east coast music - must go and have a look at them on YouTube!

  5. Natalie - what a brilliant idea, getting the kids to help clean to music! My littlest loves helping me cook (and sings at the same time), but her brother is morphing into a teenager. 'Nuff said.

  6. Authorness - green mascara? Very bold! (I stuck to blue and purple.)

    But wasn't it fun, thinking we were sophisticated?

  7. See, I miss the sweaterdress. Wear it with a wide belt slung low on the hips, a pair of leggings and some short slouchy boots. Instant ensemble!

    (I do not wear leggings any more. My thighs in spandex-- not a pretty sight!)

  8. Kim - the slouch boots are back in fashion. Yippee. (Sadly, they're... sensible colours. I miss my red ones. I loved them so much. But my new black ones will do for now.)

  9. Oh Kate, you bad woman, so many memories, so little time.

    Best 80s music for me was seeing The Clash at the Brixton Academy and The Specials at the Hammersmith Palais and The Police at The Rainbow. Oh boy, did we think we were cool in our Mod regalia of pencil skirts and winkle picker shoes (little did we know someone had done it all before in the 1960s!)

    And just to get those 80s fashions in perspective, I watched Pretty Woman with my super-cool 16 year old son recently (or at least he tells us he's super cool) and when she had her big moment in the Rodeo Drive boutique with her new outfit on son said 'Jesus, what's wrong with her shoulders she looks like a bloke!'. I think I should force him to watch back-to-back episodes of Dynasty as a punishment.

  10. Heidi - LOL on your eldest! (Uhh. Shoulder pads. Do I confess that I bought an unstructured jacket with shoulder pads, earlier this year??)

    And Sting. In the days when he was uber-gorgeous. (Oh, dear. Another confession.)

    And Hammersmith... I saw Robert Plant in the 80s at the Hammersmith Odeon. Fantastic. Apparently I was very embarrassing and screamed like a Bay City Roller fan. But we are talking the ultimate rock god, here...

  11. oh Kate, you brought back some memories on the blue mascara. My fav was electric blue with blue eyeliner. sparks everywhere.
    Where did Bon Jovi get all that hair! I think he looks better now that he's over 40.
    Your covers look great.

  12. ooh, now I've got a confession to make. I bumped into Sting when he lived in Bayswater and I was coming back from my Saturday job at Sainsburys in Queensway... Or rather I spotted him across the street with his son, ran over and introduced myself and he was absolutely lovely. We ended up chatting for about half and hour while he took his son for a walk in Kensington Gardens (oh, okay, I was stalking him and he couldn't get rid of me, the poor guy).

    So there you go, my brush with greatness and one of my key memories from the 1980s.

  13. Molly - thanks! And I agree, JBJ just gets better and better :o)

  14. Heidi - uhhhh, envy! Actually, he's someone I'd love to have dinner with. Ditto Stephen Fry. I just have this feeling they'd be great company. Good food, good wine... and then Sting could sing for his supper. (Not Dowland, though. Great lute-playing, but his voice isn't a Renaissance voice. Now, Bryn Terfel or Aled Jones... Sigh.)

  15. Sting -- so called because of the black and yellow jumper he wore when he went to school in Newcastle. The head of the middle school where my children went was in the same class...

    Everyone else has brushes with greatness.

  16. Hi Kate - great blog! I loved your 80's resurgence -on this site and your blog site recently. Apparently the 80's are back in again - can you believe it. It read on your blog the other day that you had a Motorhead album. Well in the 80's (and even today) I loved 'em. Went to all their concerts at the Hammersmith Odeon - great rockin'!! At one concert in the interval I went to the loo and who did I see but Lemmy! He said "cool jacket". I was wearing my treasured leather jacket with a hand painted Motorhead skull on the back which I was very proud of I can tell ya! Anyway enough of the heavy metal - this is a Romance site after all! Caroline

  17. Now Caroline, you are not going to believe this but Lemmy from Motorhead used to hang out in this boozer in Portobello Road back in the day and he bought me a drink once.... Honest (me and about ten other people!!)

    You see Michelle, I got your brush with greatness as well as my own. what a complete tart I am.

  18. Caroline - thanks! Hand-painted skull, eh? I remember spending hours embroidering the Rush and Led Zeppelin logos on the back of a denim jacket. (Wonder what happened to that?)

  19. Heidi - just don't tell me that Robert Plant or David Coverdale bought you a drink. Or I might be very, very, VERY jealous...

  20. Hi Heidi - cool! Rock chicks of the world unite I say! Once a rocker always a rocker. Ahh the good ole days - even with the grey hairs and the not so size 10 jeans I would still go to a HM concert any day! A mate at work is going to the AC/DC concerts later this year - he's going to 4 of them! I'm trying my best to see if there is a spare ticket going! Maybe I'll set my next book around the rock scene? Don't quite know how to work it in mind, considering I write historicals - but hey - never doubt the power of a romance writer! Caroline.

  21. Hi, Kate,
    ON sunday I ended up in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne and was instantly taken back to 1980 when said BF of the time and I used to catch the train (I was probably wearing blue eyeshadow AND mascara) into Melbourne. With no money the Gardens provided a place to kiss, cuddle and dream. It was great to see couples are still doing that :-)

  22. Hmmm, I was a total teenybopper in the 80s - big fan of Aha (had to go watch a clip on Youtube to remond myself)... soooooo funny

    Waddaya mean bad dancing????????
    FAME ROCKED!!!!!!!!!

  23. Sting!?!?! Heidi met Sting? OMFG!!!

    My hubby knows that when Sting comes for me I will go with him and bear his love child.

    To repeat-- Heidi met Sting!?!?! I'm *SO* hanging out with her from now on.

  24. Caroline - I bet you have soundtracks for your books, don't you? (I certainly do...)

  25. Fiona - I knew you'd be another in the blue mascara crowd :o)

    Ah yes, the days of having nowhere to go, so you walked in the park... We were in Christchurch Park (Ipswich) on Saturday, and my eldest spotted a couple canoodling. He was most indignant. DH just grinned and said, 'Tell me that in three years' time...' (OMG, I will have a teenager next year.)

  26. Nat! DH proposed to me to A-Ha. 'Take on Me.' (Well, that wasn't his *official* proposal. The ring took a bit longer as we decided to go for the house while we could still afford it.)

    I bought Fame this week because my youngest will just LOVE the music and the dancing. Must watch it first to check if there are any bits she shouldn't see.

  27. Kim - LOL! I thought that was JBJ? (Or do you have a list?)

  28. I loved my blue mascara. AS for the perm, it saved me having to blowdry my hair every morning. In that way the eighties was great!

    The thing about shoulder pads was that once you got used to wearing them, you looked completely daggy if you didn't, so it was frightfully hard to wean yourself off them. Long after they went out of fashion. (I may have been a bit guilty of clinging to them)

    Lucky Heidi, meeting Sting. He can play his lute here any day of the week and belt out some little Renaissance number.
    I enjoyed your story about the bar, Kate. What a fateful moment that must have been. Did you feel an instant frisson?

  29. Kate, you are one busy lady! Three books out! Wow. I bow at your eighties altar. OK, I had one of those perms, and had a couple of jackets that had big enough shoulder pads to make me look like a wrestler!

    Thank goodness that time marches on!

    I've thoroughly enjoyed all of the reminiscing you've been doing lately.

  30. Anna - I'm guilty of keeping the "wash and go" attitude (though not the perm *g*).

    And yes, I felt an instant frisson. He has these gorgeous blue eyes. (I'm not allowed to say that in interviews any more, because he's known as "Mr Gorgeous Blue Eyes" at work now. Same as I'm banned from posting proof that he looks like Bruce Willis nowadays.)

    I'm really interested to see how many people here are confessing to a Sting moment. I think India Grey might be guilty there, too (given some of the music she's got me to listen to lately). So nice to know Im not alone!

  31. Lynne - LOL! I can't imagine you looking like a wrestler. You're so elegant. (Even your dog is elegant.)

    Isn't reminiscing fun?

    And I should confess, the reason I'm reminiscing so much is that I'm writing a reunion story, so my hero/heroine are doing a bit of, um, remniscing...