Photo by Chris Craymer Romance
How many of you have ever tried to write a romance novel?!
Of course, it was when I didn't have the faintest clue what romance was.
And not that I was all that familiar with mainstream popular romance, like Mills & Boon's and some such - I'd seen the lady next door reading them, she always seemed to have her head in one while her husband was off fishing. The raciest thing on my parents bookshelf was Shirley Conran's Lace!
When I was a child, my grandmother to get the weekly ladies magazines - New Idea, Woman's Day and occasionally an Australian Women's Weekly - and when she had finished with them, she would give them to me and I would fall on them, often making my own magazines out of them. But I remember that once there was a coupon, where you send it in and get a free book. I don't think I even noticed what sort of book it was, I just liked the idea of a free book, and more to the point, a parcel addressed to me coming in the post! You were probably supposed to be over 18, but that never stopped me with anything :P
When it arrived, it was a Mills & Boon novel, and I can't even remember what it was called or who the writer was, but to my surprise, the novel was set in Tasmania (where I lived)! I thought Mills & Boon's were only set in fast, sexy, exciting cities like Sydney, New York, London, Paris, and so on. It never occurred to me that the Tamar Valley, or the little colonial village of Richmond, or Mures Upper Deck restaurant could be just as sexy!
And so with this instant common ground with the heroine (!) I rather enjoyed the book, more for the local connections than anything! Then I thought to myself that this romance writing seemed like good fun, and I thought I'd give it a go! I was a rather romantic young thing, but the nearest I'd come to it in real life was a not-so-secret crush on a boy on the school bus!
I wrote two, in the end. Borrowed heavily from the plotlines of Danielle Steel, another writer I weirdly loved when I was around 13.
The first one was about a beautiful Italian girl, Romada, who emigrated to Sydney after a horrific accident in her village that had killed her parents and brother. At that point in my life, Sydney was the only city I'd been to and of course I thought it was the sexiest, most cosmopolitan city ever, where loads of romantic intrigue was bound to happen!
She was a lawyer, and started work in the only suburb of Sydney I had any knowledge of - Bondi! They were so amazed with her that she was made partner within a few months (as if!). In the meantime, on the other side of Sydney, a handsome young art gallery owner, Thomas Bishop-Banks (named after my second cousin who had just been born!) had just been screwed over by one of his partners - he'd reneged on a painting deal or something - and he decided to sue them. He waltzed into the Bondi offices and who takes the case but the dewy-eyed red-lipped Romada. It was love at first sight!
But, of course, heaps of things happened to keep the lovers apart - her old lover turned stalker from Naples tracked her down, which led to a bust-up in a very fancy restaurant on the Rocks somewhere (!), Thomas's ex-wife showed up, and then the business partner got sneaky and led Romada up the garden path a bit, taping their conversation and then showing it to Thomas, who promptly stormed out of court! But all was not lost, as it never is. The bad guys got what they deserved, and Thomas took Romada back to Italy where, with the strength of his love, she could finally lay the demons of her past to rest, and then they eloped to the Amalfi coast.
The manuscript might still be in a box in my parent's garage!
The second romance I tried my hand at was a few years later, and I wrote a family saga about a wealthy, mysterious woman who dies very suddenly, leaving behind three daughters, all of whom had different fathers they had conveniently never met. The mysterious sudden death brings them all out of the woodwork. The first daughter, Catrin, is won over by her wealthy, handsome Welsh lord of a father and then forced into an arranged marriage, which she of course defies; the second daughter, Bethwyn, is a model with a terrible eating disorder, engaged to the mayor's son. Her father was a real 70s playboy, but twenty years later is a bit of a deadbeat, with his hey-day well and truly over. He reveals to Bethwyn that he had an affair with the mayor's wife about thirty years ago. It turns out that Bethwyn's fiance is her brother! Whoops!
The third daughter, Sheridan, is the black sheep of the family and a brilliant art student. She elopes to Sydney (again, what was it with Sydney?!) with her boyfriend, and they conveniently happen upon an old beach cottage the family used to stay at when the girls were all young. She finds diaries written by her mother and sisters, revealing a terrible truth that must finally be revealed after twenty years of silence! Her sisters tried to kill her!
Perhaps I should give Days of our Lives a call and see if they have any openings?!
Those were the days! :P Cliches and stereotypes abound, but I recall having a really good time writing them.
But you know, it's funny - back in those days, I just wrote for fun. I didn't care if it was believable or made sense. I didn't care how far-fetched it was. I didn't worry about whether people would want to read it or would think it was good - in fact, I hardly ever showed people what I'd written. If it was entertaining, and fun to write, I was happy. And, most of the time, I could tell whether it was any good or not.
I think I could learn a lot from my 13 year old self, who built castles in the air and retreated often into her own little world, but had a deep conviction that what she was doing was good and worthwhile. And fun.
Please do share, what funny but now somewhat embarrassing things have you written?!