The guest post is by the fantastic Renae Kaye. Author of the wonderful ‘Loving Jay’. Thank you, Renae!!
The book that most inspires me…
…is not easy to track down. Inspires me how? Is there one that inspires me as a person as well as an author?
I think that every single book that I have read has influenced me in some way. That terrible book that I was forced to read in Year 12 English Literature class is a prime example. I can’t even remember the author (protective amnesia) but I remember being bored out of my brain and wondering how the hell this book even received a publishing contract. That book has been torturing teenagers for decades and has influenced me against butterfly collectors for the rest of my life!
I have read a whole lot of romance in my time. I started on teen romances and soon discovered adult romances after that. I’ve done the Victorian romances, the vampire romances, the Viking romances and the not-very-good-at-all romances. But to pick a single one that most inspires me was too difficult. So I’ve picked a book that made me stop and think. It made me question everything about the “typical” romance I had read until then.
And the book will make you go, “What?!?”
Tim, by Colleen McCullough.
For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, Tim is a novel that was written in 1974 and made into a movie, starring Mel Gibson, in 1979. It is about a beautiful, young man of only twenty-five, who, in his own words “is not the full quid.” He befriends a woman eighteen years his senior, Mary, who is pretty much a dried-up old prune.
When their friendship blossoms into love, and their love moves to the sexual level, they are condemned by most. Mary was seen to be taking advantage of a young man of exceptional good looks, but who was not intelligent enough to know when someone is using him. Their age was an issue, the difference in their physical beauty was an issue, their differing class background was an issue. But they made it through.
I guess what inspired me, was that the “hero” of the story wasn’t perfect. I was used to reading about conquering heroes and rich princes, but a hero that wasn’t mentally competent to be able to read primary school books? Mary was also an unlikely heroine for the story – in her forties and with nothing remarkable about her apart from her witty repartee?
I read this book in my early twenties, and it inspired me to seek out books that were not your usual formulaic, Mills & Boon type novels. Sure – I still occasionally read M&B, but I was always looking for that one that didn’t have the handsome, rich prince, but who was still a prince after all.
I like the stories with the hero who you never thought could be a hero: the man in the wheelchair, the short guy with the glasses who needs a good stylist, the woman beyond child-bearing age, the man who likes pink and is not ashamed to let you know it.
That also comes out in my writing. I don’t write about big beefy firemen who have everything in life going for them. My characters are real to me, with real-life faults and flaws: Jay has verbal diarrhea, Liam has a disability. Patrick is blind and anti-social, Jake needs a lesson on how to shut his mouth and be nice. And so on.
It gives me hope, that even with all my faults and flaws, my life will be that happily-ever-after fairytale.