An MFRW Author Post – And check out the other blogs on the hop!
The first romance story I ever wrote was a gift. At the time, I had been writing fanfiction for years, and I had actually completed a full-length romance novel my freshman year of college that Harlequin had rejected so kindly I actually wanted to keep writing. But the first real romance story, the first one that would be The First One was a combination of those things, a real romance, featuring real people as a Christmas gift to Mary.
If you have been following my blog, you’ve probably seen Mary’s name pop up. Mary is the friend that every writer should have.
She is the one not only willing to listen to you rant about plot but offering killer ideas, better character development and suggestions for improving sexual tension in this scene or that relationship. She is one of the funniest, most brilliant, driven and important people in my life and I can honestly say that I would not be the writer I am today without her.
For many reasons – this Christmas story is one of them.
I won’t say it was bad. It wasn’t bad. It was simply untested – more like fanfiction, with characters behaving in a way they never would, a complete lack of continuity, a whole lot of very convenient things happening and a happy bow tied on at the end. This was the first story I ever published when I first started self-publishing and it sent me on the path to truly becoming a professional writer.
Because the next year, for Christmas, I wrote Mary another story. In this, she was the runaway daughter of an English lord, come to stay with her cousin (me, obviously,) at an infamous house party held by another famous lord with whom she falls wildly in love and lives happily ever after. This would go on to become one of three stories in my series, originally self-published and then ultimately picked up by a publishing house. Mary, as my muse, continued to bring me good luck in the world of writing. She is the ultimate in romantic inspiration, a striking redhead with style, sass, and a brilliant mind, and I look forward to writing her again.
But she is not the only one of my friends to land on the pages of my books.
Armand was one of my best friends in college. From orientation to graduation, we shared parties and study rooms and he remains an important presence in my life, no matter the distance between us. One afternoon, as we were goofing off instead of using the shared study space for its intended goals, he asked me why there weren’t more Indian heroes in romance novels.
Now, this is a big question. With the latest issues in romance and diversity rising to the fore, I’m not going to delve into it here, but suffice to say, there aren’t and weren’t a lot of Indian heroes, and the ones that existed were often there for the western white savior aesthetic that never seems to die. But at the time, I just shrugged and said, “I’ll write you one.”
Did I write it all the way right? No, I don’t think so. Historically diverse romance novels need to be handled with care, and there’s much I would change with the knowledge I have now, but my hero in the story is for Armand and in my mind will always be him. And because of that, I am the best friend in the world. How many people can say they got their friend laid by writing them as the hero in a historical romance novel?
I sent Armand an early copy of the book. A woman at the bar was intrigued by the historical hero and asked to see it. Suffice to say, I am the best friend in the world.
But I digress. Mary and Armand are extreme examples, but you’ll find influences from the most important people in my life in all of my books. I haven’t written my partner as a hero because that’s my story and I want to keep it as such, but so much of who he is comprises the perfect hero, and you will find traits from him and other members of my immediate family woven in and highlighted in most of my stories. We are fundamentally influenced by the world around us and the people we both love and dislike. After all, you know what they say, if you want to live forever, love a writer. ♦