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Guest blogger: Kate Moore

21 November 2010

Hi Australia

It seems crazy to be able to say that—but bless the Internet! My knowledge of all things Australian is limited at best, so I hope people will bear with me and fill me in a bit today. I read Neville Shute’s On the Beach in high school. I saw Crocodile Dundee in my youth and Rabbit-Proof Fence, and Mel Gibson in Hamlet. I own Penny Williamson’s The Outsider filmed in Australia with Naomi Watts in the lead. (Australia seems to export great movie stars at a remarkable rate!) I’ve met my mother’s cousins from Sydney, and there was that Australian exchange student who was my chemistry lab partner in high school, a swimmer. My dad as a young lieutenant in World War II steamed into Sydney Harbour on his way to air-sea rescue duty in the Pacific. But I haven’t been ‘down under’ myself. From California looking for Australia on the globe seems a bit like looking for one’s toes when one is pregnant, a hopeless business.

What I do know about Australia is that you love your romance and have a long tradition not only of reading romance but producing it. I heard Glen Thomas of Queensland University of Technology speak in 2008 about the wonderful writers who produced hundreds of books feeding readers’ love of the genre for years. Today I thought I’d share ten things I love about romance—writing it and reading it—and invite you all to join in.

1. The sexual tension—there probably isn’t a more heightened state of consciousness than that niggling awareness of another person’s person.

2. The vocabulary of gesture—I love all those raised brows, hands half-extended, lowered eyes, and quick glances that reveal characters’ emotional states.

3. The names of characters—Lord Winter, Rupert Carsington, Varian St George, Phin Tucker, Gracie Snow, Daphne Pembroke, Lady Bazelhurst, Bridget Jones.

4. Naming them—I collect good names wherever I find them, and I can’t move forward with a character, no matter how secondary, until I really know his/her name. My next heroine is so impatient, as she’s been named and can’t wait to begin speaking and acting in her very own story.

5. Giving titles to chapters—Chapter titles are a tool I use to keep my sense of the larger narrative of the story clear in my mind. They never make it into the modern paper back as they would have in an earlier romance, but they are there in my mind. In Cowardice Court from 1906 each chapter is about a ‘trespass’. ‘A Young Man Trespasses’, ‘In Which the Truth Trespasses’, ‘In Which the Author Trespasses’. In my own current book, the chapters are ‘Pinned’, ‘Fallen Angels’, ‘An Unfinished Story’, ‘The Sword from the Stone’, ‘An Escape Artist Begins to Work’, and much, much later—‘Prisoners’ Release’. Each of those titles helps me capture the emotion of the scene.

6. The dark moment—yes, I love the moment when I reach for the tissue box and when the people I’ve been rooting for seem to have lost their connection.

7. The reading/writing of counter intentions—Shakespeare and Jane Austen are masters of this double-coding of characters, as is JK Rowling. First you make the hero a villain, and then you teach the heroine and the reader to read him as the hero. Or you make the wrong man seem perfectly good and acceptable until we perceive his unworthiness of heart.

8. The heroine’s wit/ voice—I love the heroine’s quick comeback and her self-perception, her honesty with herself, her ability to size up other characters and her generosity with those who deserve her compassion. Chris Cleave’s character Little Bee from the novel Little Bee, as horrific as events are in that story, is a heroine with an amazing presence.

9. The alert consciousness of people in love—We experience novels through the alert consciousness of the main character usually, or of an assortment of characters, and in romance those characters are falling in love, so we are invited to fall in love again, to have that kind of awareness of ourselves and others and at the same time that confusion that falling in love creates. It’s a great ride. One would stand in line a long time at an amusement park just to experience it once, and then dash to the end of the line immediately to experience it again.

10. The blinding moment of discovery of love that changes the world—this moment may be the most difficult for the writer to pull off successfully, but when he or she does, the reader feels it like a gut punch, but it’s simultaneously a fist pump in the air. Yes, the world is renewed, life is beautiful and good.

So from California where fire season has just ended and we are in the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, thanks for inviting me to join you. I hope to hear from you today about your own love of romance.

Cheers
Kate
http://www.katemoore.com/

Kate Moore has lived most of her life along the California coast. That experience has made her a jeans-wearing, toes in wet-sand, married to a surfer, fog-loving weather wimp, with a hint of East Coast polish from spending her college years in Boston. Family history connects Kate to Irish and English immigrants, Cornish miners, gold prospectors, and adventurers who sailed around Cape Horn bound for San Francisco.

Kate’s heroes are honorable, virile outsiders with some grand ambition. (It helps her imagination if they look like a cross between Keanu Reeves and Clive Owen.) Her heroines are practical princesses, who drive those edgy loners into love with good sense and good sex.

9 Comments
  1. 22 November 2010 5:34 am

    All right, Australians are the coolest commenters on blogs! Barbara, Thanks for setting me straight on a word I’ll now know better not to say! And Vicki, I had to download your morph image. I think what I like about both actors is their dark good looks and a certain laconic coolness. Of course, what we think about an actor’s looks is influenced by the roles we see them in. Thank you!

  2. vickij12 permalink
    21 November 2010 9:54 pm

    Hi, Kate,

    Thank you for your great blog!! I love historical romances, especially ones set in Regency England.

    I, too, like the vocab of gesture, and I’m a lover of witty dialogue. The dialogue is what tends to rope me in much more than descriptive passages.

    In the past I dabbled in a bit of writing, including some Regency stories and 2 of the things I did that you and I have in common (if I may claim to have something in common with a real author!!), are giving chapters titles and also picking up character names from all over the place – especially surnames and title names (I love looking at a name and thinking would this suit a duke or is it better for an earl?). And then I think up estate names to go with the names. I’ve got more names than stories for them!!

    The little blurb about you written under your blog included the bit about it helping you to imagine your heroes as a cross between Keanu Reeves and Clive Owen. I couldn’t quite picture it but (if the link works) this is what MorphThing thinks he would look like:

    Cheers,

    Vicki

  3. Barbara permalink
    21 November 2010 6:33 pm

    Hi Kate
    What a great blog….. but I better put you wise about rooting….. it has another meaning in Aus, I learnt that when I first arrived here from the UK….. it is a rude way of saying making love … so if you ever come downunder you will know at least one thing not to say LOL…so there is something else you now know ….. I love romance books any genre but mainly historicals
    Barbara

  4. Daz permalink
    21 November 2010 6:07 pm

    Kate, thanks for the visit. Loved the blog.

  5. 21 November 2010 5:59 pm

    Helen, Thanks for the encouragement to visit Australia and the vote for HEA! Kate

  6. Helen permalink
    21 November 2010 4:57 pm

    Kate

    Loved the post and I do so love my romance stories a HEA is a must for me and the adventure along the way is always so much fun.

    I also hope that you make it to Australia one day would love to meet you

    Have Fun
    Helen

  7. 21 November 2010 12:35 pm

    Thanks, Nicola. Australia’s probably warm and lovely right now while here it’s dark and thundering and pouring outside. Good romance-reading weather!

  8. Nicola permalink
    21 November 2010 12:31 pm

    Hi Kate,
    I thought the comments you made about your characters and also about the way you write using chapter headings are fascinating. Your characters sound like fun, just don’t let them take over!!! Hope you do get to Australia one day.

  9. 21 November 2010 11:31 am

    Kate, you make me want to run out and buy all those books you mentioned. Do you get a commission? Or is that just your natural enthusiasm shining through? I agree with whoever said your heroes are definitely virile, honorable outsiders who the readers can’t help falling in love with.

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