helencareybooks

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Archive for the tag “love”

Romance is in the air

Everywhere I go at the moment there are hearts and roses. Love is in the air and we might as well enjoy it. Some of us are lucky enough to have our own Valentine waiting for us at home (!) but whether we have or not, reading a romantic novel is another great way to celebrate!AOL0-600

As an author I am often asked about my favourite books and whether they have influenced my writing. I have always been a big, and eclectic, reader. My reading has definitely influenced not only what I write about, but also how I write it. I might add here how amazed I often am when I talk to other writers (especially wannabe writers) and discover how little they read.

I’m convinced that analysing how successful authors structure their stories, how they create characters and achieve that all important ‘page turning power’ is the best training a writer can have. ‘But I get far too engrossed in novels to stop and analyse them,’ people say. But of course it is exactly those extra-engrossing novels that we should be learning from – so read them twice! Certainly all the novels on my favourite romantic reads list below are ones I have read at least twice.

Stone Virgin by Barry Unsworth – a very clever, beautifully written, literary novel set in Venice in three different periods of history.
The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif – a sweeping desert adventure set in N Africa, wonderful writing and compelling story.
Thornbirds by Colleen McCullough – a big Australian saga about impossible love. Choose this for a long and engrossing read.
Eightsome Reel by Magda Sweetland – an intensely emotional sweeping Scottish saga.
The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye – a hugely satisfying romantic historical saga set in 19th Century India, amazing sense of time and place.
Frederica by Georgette Heyer – a Regency romance with humour, elegance and style, one of her best.
The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller – if you are short of time, read this and weep!

My own books all have elements of romance in them too, Some Sunny Day is probably the most emotional of the Lavender Road wartime series. The Art of Loving is specifically designed to make you laugh and cry. And of course Slick Deals contains the enigmatically sexy Nick Jardine!
Enjoy!

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Is romance getting harder?

Is romance getting harder? No, no, no, I’m not talking about 40 Shades or any other semi sado nonsense, that’s not romance, that’s just mindless titillation when compared with the enduring, gut wrenching, emotional tension of a well written love story.

Living in an open, tolerant (well, all things are relative) society is great, but it’s not so good for contemporary romance writers. Because powerful fictional romance isn’t about the protagonists being together, it’s much more about keeping them apart. The term ‘star-crossed lovers’ gives a clue. Love stories hinge on the concept of ‘what’s to stop them?’ and in our current ‘anything goes/who cares’ society, frankly, there’s not much to stop anybody doing anything.

Open-mindedness, ease of travel and (comparative) affluence has clearly made life much more difficult for contemporary romance writers. They now have to work much harder to create plausible constraints (emotional not physical) and friction (emotional not physical) to keep their lovers apart. But if they want to achieve the ‘tears on the pillow’ and ‘page-turning power’ of a real enduring love story that’s exactly what they have to do – they have to create two great, thoroughly believable characters who ultimately belong together but cannot actually get together for equally great, thoroughly believable reasons.

And finding those reasons isn’t easy. As a society we have moved on from those good (in the fictionally useful sense) old days of class conflict, xenophobia, faith incompatibility, virgin bride, anti divorce, homophobia, feuding families and so on. It’s certainly not always easy for couples nowadays, but these kind of ‘cross boundary’ liaisons rarely engender the stigma and taboo they once did.

A few prejudices do inevitably linger on, but on the whole they are more likely to generate a few raised eyebrows or even a giggle than ostracism, disinheritance or danger of death at the brother’s hand. When it comes down to it, there is very little now to stop him and her, or her and her, or him and him, getting together.

It’s so much easier in historical fiction where the writer can summon up chaperones, invading armies, fight to the death religions and brutal, all powerful fathers at the touch of the pen (or mouse).

Yes, of course there are still the conventional old chestnuts for contemporary romance writers to fall back on, the mistaken identities, the lost email, the huffy misunderstanding, even, in absolute desperation, the natural disaster, but it’s hard to string these along for 100,000 words without the reader flinging down their Kindle, turning to their foreign, cross-dressed, age-gapped lover and saying, ‘Oh for goodness sake, why don’t they just get on with it!’

Romantic novels to cry for …

Everywhere I go at the moment there are hearts and roses.  Love is in the air and we might as well enjoy it.  Some of us are lucky enough to have our own Valentine waiting for us at home (!) but whether we have or not, reading a romantic novel is another great way to celebrate …

As an author I am often asked about my favourite books and whether they have influenced my writing.  I have always been an avid (and eclectic) reader. My reading has definitely influenced not only what I write about, but also how I write it. I might add here how amazed I often am when I talk to other writers (especially wannabe writers) and discover how little they read.

I’m convinced that analysing how successful authors structure their stories, how they create characters and achieve that all important ‘page turning power’ is the best training a writer can have.  ‘But I get far too engrossed in novels to stop and analyse them,’ people say. But of course it is exactly those extra-engrossing novels that we should be learning from – so read them again! Certainly all the novels on my favourite romantic reads list below are ones I have read at least twice. 

Stone Virgin by Barry Unsworth – a very clever, beautifully written, literary novel set in Venice in three different periods of history.

The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif – a sweeping desert adventure set in North Africa, wonderful writing and compelling story.

Thornbirds by Colleen McCullough – the big Australian saga about impossible love. Choose this for a long and engrossing read.

Eightsome Reel by Magda Sweetland – an intensely emotional sweeping Scottish love story.

The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye – a hugely satisfying historical saga set in 19th Century India, amazing sense of time and place.

Frederica by Georgette Heyer – a Regency romance with humour, elegance and style, one of her best.

The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller – if you are short of time, read this and weep! 

My own books all have elements of romance in them too, Some Sunny Day is probably the most emotional of the war series. The Art of Loving is specifically designed to make you laugh and cry. And of course Slick Deals contains the enigmatically sexy Nick Jardine!  

Enjoy!

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