It’s super unlikely that you’ve never heard me not reference something from the eighties. I blame this entirely on my obsession with the video shop (millennials asking WTH are those?). Every weekend, we could choose a video, sometimes two, and armed with parents who had no issue whatsoever with things like age restrictions, I got to watch acres of that decade’s celluloid finest and not-so-finest too. Is it any wonder that upcoming novel The Romeo Prototype gives a nod to Romancing the Stone and Weird Science? None. As for Watched?
Let me break it down for you:
A Night in Heaven. A little context…male strippers were BIG back then, and other movies like Summer School exploited the male-student-by-day-stripper-by-night angle as a C or even D storyline. But A Night in Heaven had student Christopher Atkins (post Blue Lagoon, pre Dallas) seduce, sort of, his older, married teacher Lesley Ann Warren*. Warning: this movie is worse than terrible, and has exactly (in my non-expert opinion) one killer song (Heaven by Bryan Adams) and one redeeming scene. Said scene features Christopher Atkins - blonde, blue-eyed and kind of jail-baity - dressed up as a rocketman which firmly cemented my thing for men in racing gear complete with helmet (yes, Daft Punk are hot). He humps the bannister (hot, well, you can judge for yourself - have a look here), and spots his teacher, who just flunked him nogal, in the audience. Sparks fly and as someone yells, “Give him an A. Look at him!”
Not that my Cameron is a stripper. He’s not. But, teacher/student…
Which led me to the next bit of weird inspiration: Self-control by Laura Branigan, a single released a year after the epic fail of A Night in Heaven. Switch on any nostalgia radio station, and you’ll hear this little ditty to the creatures of the night. But it’s the video that had me looking twice. Sjoe. It’s hot. Like serious flames. That masked stranger guy (okay, he’s stalking her, I do get that but in this context, it’s sort of Phantom of the Opera way before its time and other voyeuristic overtones). I once read that women’s top fantasies often involve faceless or masked strangers. They also tend to involve exhibitionism. Well, the late Ms Branigan must have been up-to-date on her research, because this video nails it.
Somehow or other, these two bits of eighties collided in my coffee-addled brain, and Watched was born. So far, there haven’t been any flashes of inspiration combining Gremlins and Perfect in which little green monsters terrorise the local gym’s singles scene. Maybe that’s a good thing.
*On re-watching, as a woman with more mature taste, Lesley Ann Warren’s husband is way way hotter. And taller.
How delightful to spend an afternoon chatting to fellow author and ROSA member, Cindi Page, about my upcoming latest release Watched. You can have a squizz below. We enjoyed it so much we'll be doing it again to discuss Cindi's latest release. You can visit her page here :cindipage.com
I’ll fess up – I had no idea who Jane Porter was. I’d never read her romances, watched any movies based on her romances, or dipped into the advice she serves up in her ‘how to’s. I had heard of Tule, but was damned if I knew how to pronounce it (rhymes with Julie, who knew?). Yes, she’s an international bestselling author, and a publisher - that you can get from a quick Google trawl. But, stats tell you nothing about the person, Jane Porter. What I didn’t expect was to find someone who stripped me straight to my emotional bones in her frankness, her willingness to share her story, and her reassuring quiet strength; aye, she may be small but she is mighty.
Laying your guts out to the public is probably why writers are such ‘crazy cats’ (to use Jane’s expression). But it’s not often that a writer stands up and says it – no hiding under the covers - to a room full of strangers. Raw, unadulterated, 100% honesty. Is it easy to hear? No. But, for this writer here, it was a turning point. If I can’t be honest about who I am, where I’m from, and the experiences that have shaped me, my stories are probably going to lack authenticity. They won’t reflect ‘me’. For that alone, I’d pay over the odds a million times, to hear Jane speak again.
In both her talks, and in conversation with her, she offered priceless insights into romance writing as a career. A career option, that, let’s face it, is not offered by guidance counsellors. And why shouldn’t we be thinking of writing as a career? How many other careers let you research hot men on the Internet? Not accounting, that’s for sure. These were some of the biggies:
Every now and then, I’ll remember something else she said, and I’ll write it down; things like how to engage on Facebook and start conversations with fans, or how to recognise alpha men. And then I’ll think how lucky I was that of all the places Jane exchanged to as teen, it was here, South Africa. Sometimes these things aren’t accidents. Thank you, Jane.
Twas like thunder, as he drove his little red corvette in the purple rain. "My name is Prince. Let's go crazy," he said to the most beautiful girl in the world, her raspberry beret from around 1999. Did he want to get off? You bet your diamonds and pearls, he did. Or maybe one kiss. "If I was your girlfriend," she sighed. She got that look...it was a sign o' the times - no sexy motherfucker this time round. Maybe when doves cried. Welcome to this thing called life.
My inspiration for sexy stories? Has to be the genius that was Prince. Words to describe his fabulosity? Not enough. My coffee shop just cranked up some of his stuff, and all I could think was (to borrow the words of another music legend), thank you for the music.
New year, new me? Nope, I'm the same as last year - still finding every last opportunity to catch up on my TBR reading pile. So far, so good.
Looking for a sweet romance? How about Cupid Mislaid by PG Barker? Or for something a little sexier, Resurgence by Sharonlee Holder. I also devoured The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman, which was nearly as delightful as its sequel, Practical Magic. As for The Break by Marian Keyes, I way way preferred it to the previous one of hers.
But by far the best thing, the very best treat, that I was not expecting, and, to be fair, I doubt anyone else in the audience was either, was this:
Shirtless Kylo Ren. With my romance writerly goggles on, was that the force I felt between Ren and Rey? Oh, yes sirree it was. Forbidden love? Check. Villain with the possibility of redemption? Check. Chemistry out the wazoo? Check, check and check again. Don't worry, am quite aware that Rey was dragging the emotional load, and that he's an emotionally unavailable murderer. But, I was blinded by the pecs, and hell, I wasn't the only one either.
Do I hear a new story somewhere in my subconscious prickling to the surface...that's a hell to the yeah. Almost as good a moment as this one.
Yep, I'm pretty sure, it's going to be a great year for romance, 2018!
Do you think you might have missed something important from ROSACon 2017? You know, because it’s two whole days of talks and workshops with romance writers, editors, agents and publishers? Because it’s all about romance writing? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
The top three things I learnt at ROSACon2017:
Did I say top three? There were about twenty four thousand five hundred and a million other things I learnt. Roll on, ROSACon 2018.
Want to find out more about ROSA? Have a look here .
“Which of you bitches is my mother?” Hands up if you know which novel made goldfish worldwide nervous. Hint: it featured boarding schoolgirls, a Middle Eastern prince, and an international porn star. Shirley Conran’s Lace? You haven’t read it? Why not? Probably because it’s kind of clunky nowadays; a relic of the late seventies/eighties when women’s fiction were these thick, glamorous door-stoppers brimming with sex and intrigue. But how it changed my life. Literally. Up until that moment, I hadn’t encountered the ‘bonkbuster’.
The lives of Kate, Pagan, Judy and Maxine transfixed me. They managed to claw themselves up from their upper class finishing schools to the lofty heights of the design, PR and journalism worlds. Yes, one of them was a bit of an alchie, but she managed to marry this ‘simply wonderful, darling man’ who set her up in swishy charity fund raising. Admittedly, the young supposed orphan Lili has a less than glam life, exploited by an unscrupulous photographer into the porn industry, but she too becomes a world-famous superstar known only by one name - Lili - long before Madonna made it popular. Oh, how many times have I read this book? Too many, way too many times. But it opened the door to ‘the others’.
Judith Krantz taught me all about Bill Blass, Spago (their cream cheese pizza is to die for), and how French women apparently eat nothing but a tartin and an oeuf for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For snaring oil tycoons with unexpected pregnancies, having sex on a raft on the ocean in front of a crowded beach with no-one seeing you, and finding out what happens when a starlet and an ageing producer have sex so hot his heart gives out, I thank the legendary Jackie Collins. My Form IV English teacher admonished that I must ‘improve the quality of my reading material’. Are you kidding? This was grade-A stuff.
Jetset locations, larger-than-life women who had closets bigger than their houses solely to accommodate all their skeletons, and men, ohthemen!, who wined and dined them. To this day, when I have a spare Sunday afternoon, I pick up something like The First Wives Club, and gobble the whole thing in one satisfying bite. Is it literature? Really, who the hell cares! There's a reason these books used to be passed around the classroom, certain pages well-thumbed.
Do you have a favourite? Which one?