Friday, May 04, 2012

A Date With Kate - Happy Birthday!

Today,  Kate Walker is  thinking about birthdays -  her own  - and those of her characters

May is an important month for birthdays for me. Yesterday was the birthday of a special friend and great romance writer, Michelle Reid, coming up in two weeks is the birthday of my lovely eldest sister – Oh, and Monday is my own birthday.  I’ll be . . .No, I’m not admitting that!
So it’s not surprising that birthdays are much on my mind at the moment. Not just in choosing and buying of presents, then posting them off – my sister lives in Tasmania so I had to get that organised weeks ago – but also how to celebrate them, what  a birthday day means – and what will make it most enjoyable.   These things are different to everyone and, as I’ve often said before, it’s thinking of the individual, and giving them what makes things  just right for them, is where love – and the elements of real romance come in.    Everyone  knows that I love to read, so at this time of year I often get parcels of books – but I always say too that I’d love a voucher  for a couple of extra hours, for the time to sit down and read those books. But sadly no one has found a place where those can be bought!
But as a writer, I’m always thinking about birthdays too.  My characters’  birthdays, the special days of my hero and heroine – and how they feel about them.  Everyone has a birthday, not everyone feels the same about them, and it’s in those deeper feelings that we can get to know our characters better and find out what makes them tick.

Way back in  time, when I was  first  published, I used to use  different techniques for getting to know my hero and heroine. One of these was a series of astrology books – Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs/Love Signs/Relationship Signs . These would tell me how a particular birthdate/star sign created a particular  type of person   and the characteristics they shared. I didn’t have to actually believe in them (though Michelle Reid and I are  eerily  similar, having been born just days apart!)  but they did give me lots of ideas for the interests or attitudes my heroine might have, the way my hero might feel about family, or work . . .
I don’t use those books now, but thinking about a birthday still helps me dig deeper into a character and find out more about them. Were they born in the winter or summer months?   So what sort of weather/lifestyle/surroundings would they have started to be aware of once they were old enough to notice what was going on around them?   Did their parents celebrate their birthdays or  ignore them?  Was their birthday something that had caused trouble in the past – or  was it a moment of pure joy to everyone? I had one hero (in The Italian’s Forced Bride) who had been abandoned on the steps of a church as a baby. He didn’t actually know his own birthdate  and  although that was never actually mentioned in the story, it  was a huge part of who he was and how he felt about himself and about life.
Other things about birthdays hat can create  depths for your characters – what place in their family were they born in? Is your heroine, like my sister,  the oldest of  five girls? Or your hero the ‘difficult’  middle child of the family?   The study of a person’s place in the family can be fascinating and have a lot of influence e on their behaviour and attitudes  once they are grown up and mature.
And if your  character is having a birthday how would they celebrate – or not? Would they like a huge exciting party? Or prefer just to stay at home and read? Would they like everyone to know? Or  not mention it to anyone and keep quiet about their special day?  What sort of gifts would make a birthday special – either to give or to receive? I   know that in the  world of the  Modern Romance/Presents novels, the ‘default’ gift is usually jewellery – and the brightest, most sparkling, most   glamorous earrings or necklaces possible.   But if we, as writers, are not careful, those gifts tend to fall into the cliché line of thinking and the hero who just doles out gems, however  expensive and beautifully designed, can look like someone who isn’t trying too hard – or is falling back on the ‘every woman loves jewellery’  cop-out.  Or perhaps that’s what you want to show him as being like?
What would your heroine really love most in all the world for her birthday? And how, without actually writing a list  or telling her hero face to face just what it is she dreams of, can she communicate that to him  - and how far will he have to go, how much work will he have to do to find it for her? That’s the way that love can be shown. And what does your heroine buy – or make – or create – for the man who has everything?  In a true romance, as I say, it’s considering the individual, thinking about what they want, and trying to find that that shows  real depth of feeling.
So I’d love to know what you think. If you’re a writer, what would your current heroine buy for the hero in her life – or vice versa? Or if you’re  a reader, then what would be the perfect present for your next special day? Money is no object – but  it has to be personal and special to you. And because I want to share in the celebrations of this birthday month -  I have a copy of my most recent book The Devil and Miss Jones to give away to one person who comments  - and Charlie the Maine Coon (who was actually a Christmas present not a birthday gift – but the principle applies) will pick a winner.
And if anyone can find one of those vouchers for extra reading time then I’ll be really grateful!
Kate’s latest novel The Devil and Miss Jones was out in Mills & Boon Modern Romance in March  and is still available in Harlequin Presents Extra this week. You can find out all her latest news on her Web site or her blog.

And the winner is  . . .
Well, there are three - because Charlie was greedy and because I wanted to share my birthday with my fellow birthday Taureans - so 
Louise
arethazhen
and Misty K

please email me  kate AT kate-walker.com  with your postal addresses and I'll get the prize book in the mail to you


24 comments:

  1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY for Monday!!

    My parents gave me the most gorgeous string of pearls for my 21st birthday - many moons ago. I have always wanted a matching pair of earrings. The pearls to match, but the setting to be something rather extra special.

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  2. Happy Birthday!!!

    I grew up in a family where Birthdays were made a fuss of, so it's a good challenge for me to write characters who prefer not to celebrate. My w.i.p. heroine has just survived a storm in which she & her husband lost most of their material goods - what she really, really wants, right now, is a pair of clean knickers. What she thinks she wants to give her husband is a baby (but in fact she wants a baby more than he does.)

    Louise, another May baby (mine is the 13th.) Yay for Taureans! :)

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  3. Happy Birthday for Monday Kate! In my latest story the hero gives the heroine a seashell for her birthday. He remembers her saying how much she wanted to be by the sea, and its the closest thing to it he can wrap up for her - so she can put it to her ear and listen to the sound of the sea like she did when she was a child. I think for me its the thought that counts, something personal is far more touching than something expensive - especially if money is no object for the giver :-)

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  4. HaPpt coming birthday Kate:D. This month actually also my birthday month :D. Hmmm I wish for a gift card for a book seller :). So I could spend my time at my Dave bookstore and choose the books or maybe DVD film I would love to buy:), arethazhenATrocketmailDOTCOM

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  5. Hi Mary - and thank you! I love the idea of those very special earrings to match the pearls. I'm sure the pearls must be very beautiful - and exta special because of the day and the special birthday you were given them. I hope that one day you find the perfect earrign to match. That would be a wonderful gift for a hero to give his heroine . . perhaps you could hint to your hero?

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  6. Hi Louise! And yes - Yay for Taureans! Happy Birthday to you for your day on the 13th. I really like your heroine's story - and what she really wants is so believeable, given the circumstances. I do hope she gets her clean knickers - i know most women would agree with that! The baby . . . well that will add some great complicaattins to the story. And the way her husband beg=haves will make him a hero - or not! I'd like to see how that works out

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  7. Hi Kate, it's my birthday too on the 9th. Linda Goodman was a lovely writer, wasn't she? I love her analysis of the Taurus Woman/Leo Man. That's the combination of me and my husband and it is so true. I'm a bit wary of astrology to tell you the truth, although followers of my husband's religion (hinduism)often base their lives on it. My husband's brothers and sisters had their marriages arranged according to compatible horoscopes. In our case, my late father in law often mentioned laughing that there was nothing that he nor his wife could do to help us to be compatible as we'd already decided for ourselves. But Linda Goodman's personality analyses according to astrology were often spot on, I thought. I had the sun sign and love signs books long ago, given by a friend, but I left them behind in Ireland when I left for India.

    I wish you a very happy birthday.

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  8. BTW Kate I'm reading THE DEVIL AND MISS JONES right now. Lovely novel, well done!

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  9. Happy Birthday, Kate! It will be my birthday on the 9th so I will join in on the cheer for Taureans! It's a little freaky how accurate Ms. Goodman's analysis of relationships is in my case. For example, my doomed first love was a star sign that was highly incompatible with earth signs like Taurus. Over my dating years I certainly never decided whether or not to date a guy based on his birthday but when I looked back on that time, the most significant boyfriends were indeed other earth signs, mostly Virgos--just like Ms. Goodman predicted. And my husband, the love of my life (our 22nd anniversary is May 12th) is also an earth sign, a Capricorn.
    MistyK

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  10. Thank you for the birthday wishes Nas - our special days are not too far apart are they?

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  11. That's a lovely, special gift Susie - it would really melt my heart if some hero gave that to me - so I'm cheering for your herone., It shows he really cares. Just as you say, it's the thought that counts. And that would make me want to read the story you've written.

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  12. Hi arethazhen - and Happy Birthday to anolther Taurean. Your fantasy birthday gift sounds just perfect to me. I could happily spend time in a bookshop with a special voucher. It's great because the giver gives the experience of the time spent choosing and enjoying picking the books as well as the actual voucher for them. Of oyrse, then I'd need the time to read them!

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  13. Maria - it's really slightly spooky the connection between us too - I rememebr that your birthday is so close to mine and now there's the Taurus woman and the Leo male I(my husband too!) I think some asrologers would say it doesn't work - but it does - doesn't it? ;o) . I have ambiguous feelinga bout astrology too - sometimes though it does seem so accurate it makes you think.

    I'm glad you're enjoying The Devil and MIss Joes - thank you for that!

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  14. Hi Misty - and another cheer for Taureans and Happy Birthday for you - together with Maria - for the 9th! One of my favourite musicians, Billy Joel has his birthday on the 9th too. I can't remember what Ms Goodman said about the 'doomed first love' of mine - but obvioulsy for you, that special sign is an earth sigh. Congratulations on your anniversary too - he is clearly your hero.

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  15. Happy upcoming birthday!
    The perfect gift for my net special day would be a trip to Hawaii.

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  16. As a reader my perfect birthday gifts are books and my favourite sweets extra strong mints. Two of the things I enjoy most when relaxing. As a writer(beginner) my heroine loves things to do with nature and the environment, so she would love a adopt a animal gift or a fairtrade gift teapot (as she loves to drink tea).

    Have a great birthday for next week.

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  17. Happy upcoming birthday Kate.

    I just want to tell you how much I enjoyed reading The Devil and Miss Jones. Miss Jones was such a strong independent heroine. I loved what the Devil did after Miss Jones left the first time ~ I don't want to give any of the story away.

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  18. Hello Chey and thank you too for the birthday wishes. Everyone is picking birthday gifts that I'd love - I really want to go to Hawaii! I have a real thing about islands

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  19. Good morning Sian - I'm answering on Saturday now! I think every woman who is a reader would love the right books and the right treats to curl up with. And I think your gifts for your heroine are just perfect - my son once gave me an 'adopted' tiger and I loved that - it showed he knew exactly what I'd love.

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  20. Oh Kaelee - thank you! You know what a lovely boirthday gift to give a writer - tell her how much you enjoyed her book! Thank you. So many people seem to have liked the Devil - not so much of a Devil, when you got to know him!

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  21. And the winner is . . .

    Well, there are three - because CXharlie was greedy and because I wanted to share my birthday with my fellow birthday Taureans - so
    Louise
    arethazhen
    and Mistry K

    please email me kate AT kate-walker.com with your postal addresses and I'll get the prize book in the mail to you

    And thank you again to everyone for their birthday wishes.

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  22. Thank you Kate, already emailed you:D. ARETHA ZHEN

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  23. PS that should of course mbe MISTY K!
    I got your email Aretha!

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