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by Evelyn Q. Darling
Romance Reporter At Large

How well do you know your hero? Is he tall, dark and handsome? Okay, so you don’t want a cookie-cutter hero, but have you really thought about what questions to ask him?

(When you can take your eyes away from his sexy grin among other parts of his anatomy.)

This reporter recently interviewed heroines for a romance gig and got some very interesting answers.

Now, it’s your hero’s turn. Ready, ladies? Start your engines…

Here are my 5 Job Tips for a great romance novel hero interview:

1. Don’t ask him to take off his shirt. Tempting, yes, as you check out his muscular arms, but this is a sexist attitude that will get you nowhere. (But oh the fun you’ll have trying!)

2. Schedule the interview in a locale where you’ll both feel comfortable. Not in a sports bar where he can eyeball the basketball scores and the waitresses with the deep cleavage. Forget tea shops that serve lemon dainties, unless you’re writing a regency and you want to see if he exudes the proper Mr. Darcy-isms.

3. Ask him to show you his…wheels. Yes, I said, wheels. Is he a Harley guy? Jaguar? Or does he drive an old pickup? Does he keep half his “stuff” in his car? Or is he a neatnik? You can tell a lot about a man by his…wheels.

4. What’s his day job? Or if he’s into night work (and what hard-working vampire isn’t?), you’ll want to make sure he’s a good match for your heroine. If she’s a lawyer, a police detective can make her life hectic; if she runs a cake and bake shop, how about interviewing a land developer who wants to tear down her vintage cottage shop? And let’s not forget the city gal who’s just aching to meet up with a real cowboy. Just make sure he can ride…a horse.

5. And finally, don’t ask him if he’s a good kisser. Tell him to show you.

Evelyn is the alter-ego of Jina Bacarr, The Blonde Samurai: “She embraced the way of the warrior. Two swords. Two loves.”

Jina is also the author of The Blonde Geisha ,Cleopatra’s Perfume, Naughty Paris, Tokyo Rendezvous, a Spice Brief, and Spies, Lies & Naked Thighs

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by Evelyn Q. Darling
Romance Reporter At Large

Is your romance novel heroine qualified for the job?

Did you interview her before you started writing? I don’t mean where she went to school, what her favorite color is, etc. but whether or not she’s qualified for the job as a romance novel heroine.

For example, does she have the skills needed to perform her job: Can she shoot a Glock if you’re writing an FBI agent? Lace up a corset if she’s interviewing for the job as a Victorian lady’s maid? 

Or she may be overqualified for the job. For example, she can type faster than you or she has aspirations to leave the romance novel field and get a literary gig.

How long has she been out of work?

Romance novel jobs are hard to get and if it’s been decades since she slipped between the pages of a novel, you might want to reconsider. On the other hand, experience between the sheets is important for every romance heroine.

A typical interview could go like this:

Miss Jones, I’m writing a novel that takes place during the Regency Period. Are you a fan of Jane Austen?

Miss Jones: Jane who? I’m so into Lady Gaga. Love her sunglasses.

Next…

Miss Smith, my next novel is about an FBI agent who’s very physically active to catch the bad guys. Can you drop and do twenty?

Miss Smith: the only thing I dropped was twenty pounds to get this interview.

Let’s try again.

Miss von Rittenhaus, I need a romance novel heroine who sleeps all day and bites all night. Can you list your qualifications to be the vamp queen in my new urban fantasy novel?

Miss von Rittenhaus: Honey, I can snooze and cruise with the best of them. I’ve hit every vamp bar from here to Tampa and let me tell you, no one gets her fangs on better than Lulu.

When can you start?

Miss von Rittenhaus: Tonight. As soon as the sun goes down. (Pause). You haven’t mentioned a benefits package.

What do you mean?

Miss von Rittenhaus: Do I get overtime pay for all this night work? And how about a 401K? I’m not getting any younger and in this economy a girl, I mean vamp, has to look out for herself. What about my e-rights? And health benefits? What if I chip a fang and I have to see a dentist between chapters?

Jeez…Romance heroines…you can’t write with them and you can’t write without them.

This is Evelyn Q. Darling. Till next time when we’ll interview the romance novel hero and see if he’s up for the job.

 Evelyn is the alter-ego of Jina Bacarr, The Blonde Samurai: “She embraced the way of the warrior. Two swords. Two loves.”

Jina is also the author of The Blonde Geisha ,Cleopatra’s Perfume, Naughty Paris, Tokyo Rendezvous, a Spice Brief, and Spies, Lies & Naked Thighs

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By Evelyn Q. Darling
Romance Reporter At Large

February is National Snack Food Month. From greasy potato chips to chocolaty M&M’s, we all love snacks, which makes this reporter wonder: What does a romance heroine snack on between the sheets?

(I know what you’re thinking, but this reporter is not going there.)

You can’t ignore it. Snackin’ is a way of life in the 21st century with snack sales going over the $60 billion mark annually. Yes, that was B as in billion. (Who eats all those Doritos anyway?)

So this reporter was wondering (while she was snacking on peanut butter cookies), what heroines in various romance genres might be inclined to snack on. Think about it: what you give your heroine to snack on today would be different than in the Victorian era.

Crumpets (soft and spongy) dripping with honey were all the rage back in the late 19th century, served with afternoon tea and milk, while a hip modern heroine might snack on a vanilla yogurt parfait topped with granola. (Victorian heroines didn’t worry about calorie overload. They could always cinch in their corset an extra inch or two. A modern heroine doesn’t have that luxury.)

Or if your heroine is a vampire, blood oranges.

How ‘bout a zombie heroine? Zilch, nada. (What do zombies eat anyway?)

If you’re writing a romantic comedy, why not have your heroine throw caution to the wind and indulge in tortilla chips with spicy salsa or gourmet popcorn with real butter.

If your heroine’s a gun-packin’ mama, how ‘bout Snickers and black licorice sticks for fast, on-the-go snacks that she can sink her teeth into while she chasing after the bad guys.

Steampunk? You must have black tea for that British feel, then add red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for a touch of fantasy.

And finally, erotic. (You thought I forgot?) Bananas, baby. Big, long, juicy bananas.

Need I say more?

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I love historicals. Reading them, writing them.

And creating the perfect heroine. But is she a blonde, a brunette or a redhead? We writers wrestle with this question every time we put fingertips to keyboard. Sometimes the character is so clear in our minds, we know for certain she’s a natural blonde (and if she isn’t, well, we won’t tell–it’s up to the hero to see if the collar matches the cuffs).

Imagine if Scarlett O’Hara was a blonde…

Do you remember the vivid opening scene with Scarlett surrounded by the redheaded Tarleton twins? Her beautiful dark hair provided a rich halo around her face and provided a contrast against her white organdy dress with flounces and flounces of ruffles. The red belt cinching in her tiny waist was the perfect accent piece to complete her outfit.

Was this what Margaret Mitchell envisioned when she wrote “Gone With the Wind?”

In a word, no.

Ms. Mitchell describes a “green flowered-muslin” dress, not the white one. Although in the film, Scarlett does show up at the Twelve Oaks BBQ in a similar dress (who can ever forget the scene in the film when Scarlett throws a porcelain bowl across the room not knowing Rhett is lying on the couch out of her pov and he pops up with the line: “Has the war started yet?” Pure classic romantic attraction).

Which brings me to the question: how important to you as a writer and/or reader is the heroine’s hair color?

Her clothes?

Do you enjoy reading descriptions of what she’s wearing? Do designer labels intrigue you or turn you off?

I must admit I enjoyed designing my heroine’s wardrobe in “The Blonde Samurai” about a Victorian heiress who weds a British lord then falls in love with a handsome samurai.

Here is what Katie O’Roarke as Lady Carlton wore at a grand dinner:

“…Which was why I chose the color red. A defiant color, bold and perfect. I relished how the velvet gown in crushed strawberry hugged my body, the small cap sleeves sliding down my bare shoulders while the tiered soft bustle swayed behind me, the long train sweeping over the muted Oriental carpets. A long row of pearl buttons gave off an opaline luster, racing down my back like a game of dominoes.”

Tell me what you think about whether or not a description of the heroine’s hair color and her wardrobe enrich the story for you.

Frankly, my dear reader, I do give a damn…

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Click here if you missed Episode 1 of “A Naughty Christmas Carol.”

EPISODE 2:

When we left Sir Harry, he had no Christmas spirit. No wreaths, no caroling, none at all. He refused to help the poor as his lady love, Lady Florentine requested. Worse yet, he ordered his mistress Nellie Rose to his residence on Christmas morning for his own pleasure, ignoring her request to visit her sick mother who lived near the docks in East London.

Then Sir Harry is visited by the ghost of Lord Buckley, the Master of Whippingate…

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Welcome to A Naughty Christmas Carol, a holiday story video told with pictures and words.

The idea for the story came from the heroine in my Harlequin Spice novel, The Blonde Samurai, nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award. The Blonde Samurai is the story of Katie O’Roarke, an Irish American heiress who goes to Victorian London to wed a British lord.

It’s 1873 and Katie O’Roarke is headed to Japan as a virgin bride after marrying Lord Carlton. There she falls in love with a handsome samurai, but not before she spent a Season in London, far from the woods of her Pennsylvania home. As Lady Carlton, she was privy to the comings and goings of the British aristocracy and their fascinating and often incorrigible mores.

Here is one such story she heard whispered in Mayfair drawing rooms, a holiday tale called A Naughty Christmas Carol.    

In Episode 1, we meet Sir Harry,” though that is not his real name, as a young man. It’s Christmas Eve and he’s being very disagreeable with Lady Florentine, the gentlewoman who loves him, and his mistress, Nellie Rose, a fine lass whose mum is sick, as he makes his way to Madame Moiret’s bawdy establishment on York Street…

Join me next week for EPISODE 2 of: 

“A NAUGHTY CHRISTMAS CAROL”

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On November 11th, we celebrate our veterans. But mothers are also veterans of war. Here is a story about such a mother written by Lady Eve Marlowe, the heroine in my novel, Cleopatra’s Perfume.

Before Lady Eve married a member of the British peerage, she was a cabaret dancer in Berlin in the late 1920s during the wild days of the Weimar Republic.

The scene in what I call a “story vid” (story video) takes place after one of the girls in the show is murdered and Eve goes to visit her mother.

Happy Veterans Day!

 

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