I’ve always wanted to emulate two romance writers who are my favorites, Sandra Brown and Kathleen Woodiwiss. Woodiwiss died this past Sunday. She was a Romance Icon.
In 1972, I was in high school when Kathleen Woodiwiss’s book, The Flame and The Flower, was released. Having started it at home, I hid the book behind a binder in speech class and read the entire period. I couldn’t wait to get home to finish it. I continued to read her books throughout the thirty-five year span of her writing career. As sad as her passing makes me all I can think is what a legacy she has left behind. There have been several generations of writers, and readers inspired, challenged, and enthralled by her writing acumen. And I’m sure that will continue.
Kathleen Woodwiss’s influence on my writing can be seen in my love of the Historical Romance Genre and its language. There is a different language used when writing historicals than in contemporaries. I’m not just talking about the dialogue your characters speak and the accents that flavor their speech. I’m referring to the way the words are put together even in descriptive passages. Everything is tied to the historical period in which the book is set, so it must come from your character’s viewpoint and from what they have been exposed to and influenced by. From the lowliest prison guard to the wealthiest matron, writing historical romance allows a writer to use so much imagination. And best of all—it’s so much fun!
In Highland Moonlight I wrote a battle scene where my hero, Alexander, and my heroine’s brother, Gavin, wage a battle against one another, in defense of my heroine’s honor. Their weapons are platters. At that time in history they didn’t eat food off of plates, but from bread trenchers or wooden bowls. Platters were used to bring large portions to the table. I had to brainstorm for several days to come up with words to describe them throwing the wooden weapons at one another without using words such as projectile or missile, or saucer or plate because of their modern connotation. What a challenge and what fun. Because of the subject matter I had to make the scene as humorous as possible. And that’s another thing I learned from Woodiwiss, the use of adding levity to your story to lighten the darkness of a serious plot.
Like her, I love those Alpha males, heroic and brave, pig-headed and strong. Don’t give me the reasonable Beta hero who is sensitive to my feelings. Give me the, larger than life, Alpha male who may not have a clue what makes a woman tick, but when he’s alone with her in the dark, he always gets what his lady wants, just right. Give me that strong romantic male who doesn’t shy away from a brutal conflict, but tackles it fearlessly to win his lady love, or protect her.
Give me a heroine who can be both spunky yet feminine, brave yet compassionate, loyal yet independent. One who can stand up to the hero, without being over-shadowed. A woman who the hero recognizes as his equal, even though it’s a man’s world and he’s in charge, or thinks he is. She needs to be someone with honor the hero can love, and in so doing, he can teach the reader to love her as well.
And that’s the last thing and possibly the most important thing I’m going to credit to Woodiwiss. She taught me how to let my heroes be heroes, and my heroines be heroines, while both maintained their place within the structures of the society in which live.
As in my book Captive Hearts, my hero and heroine, Matthew and Katherine, bond together to face a serial killer, Katherine’s conniving uncle, and a jealous Lord. As they overcome both physical dangers and societal strictures, they learn how their love for one another can set them free.
I’d love to hear from all of you about who you love to read and why.
And, if you’re a writer, I’d be interested to hear who might have influenced your writing and how.
Teresa J. Reasor
Tomorrow there will be excerpts from both my books posted to this blog, so if you’re interested, please come back and read them.