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/)