Friday, November 5, 2010

First Loves

Since this is my first post for Nocturnal Nights, I thought it would be fun to do a blog about Firsts.

I'm not talking about first loves as in romantic loves of the opposite sex, or even the same sex. ("Not that there's anything wrong with that!"A little Seinfeld to get us rolling!) I'm talking about our first loves as readers and writers.

From a reader's perspective, I have long been a lover of romance novels. I started reading them when I was in my early teens--maybe fifteen or sixteen. My first straight romance was a Barbara Cartland historical romance. I'd been reading animal stories since I could focus on the written word. I'd read all the Black Stallion books, all the Lads and Lassies. Since I was horse mad, I’d pick up anything that had a horse on the front cover and that's how I became exposed to romances. Someone gave me a book they thought I'd like because it featured a girl's love for her equine friend. It also featured a girl's awakening to boys. The book was as much a romance as an animal story. And I loved it. After I finished it, I went looking for similar books. Books that combined a love of boys with a love of animals. But I couldn’t find any. LOL. I guess that particular niche hadn’t been discovered.

So I started looking for stories that just focused on the romance, and that's how I stumbled across Barbara Cartland. I devoured those books. Jumped from there to Harlequin Presents and BOOM. I was addicted. My first paranormal romance was one of Maggie Shayne's old Silhouette Shadows. Her vampire series hooked me on paranormal romance. 

As often happens, my heavy reading gave way to day dreams about my own worlds and characters. My writing tended to follow my reading endeavors. So when I was reading about animals, I was writing about animal. When I started reading romances, my writing swung in that direction as well. The first romance I actually sat down and wrote from first word, to last--was a category length contemporary romance. The story was about a book worm college professor, who was determined to get in shape and the famous baseball player who was hiding out in the house next door while he recovered from an injury. I was 20 years old and in my first year of college. I wrote the book two hours at a time. Every day after classes, I'd go to the library and write the story in a notebook. The entire manuscript was 300 handwritten pages. After I finished it, I approached one of the writing professors in the English department. He informed me that if I wanted to submit it to publishers, it would have to be typewritten. This was way before the personal computer and I didn't have a typewriter. The notebooks sat in a box for years and eventually disappeared.

I wrote my next manuscript when I was 29. Like the first, this one was handwritten, but this time I revised it on one of my dad's brand new IBM DOS personal computers. The printer was dot matrix and had those folding edges you'd tear off. The book was a paranormal suspense and set up for a trilogy about a trio of genetically enhanced girls who’d escaped from a laboratory during an earthquake. The heroine in the first book was a psychic and the hero was a rock star. I made up lyrics and everything! I actually submitted that book to Silhouette Intimate Moments and received a very nice letter back saying that while the manuscript had a lot of potential; Nora Roberts was coming out with a series quite similar to it. The editor encouraged me to write another book and submit again.

It was another thirteen years before I wrote another book and by then my interest has veered from category to single title. But I still loved romance, suspense and paranormal, and I still love them to this day.

What about the rest of you?
What were your first loves?

11 comments:

Tabitha Blake said...

Great blog. I am like you a hopeless romantic. It is the reason I started writing in the first place. I just hope my books will inspire others to start writing as well. What a legacy to leave behind.

Sheri Fredricks said...

The Black Stallion series. Misty of Chincoteague series. Great memories. I think I was in H.S. when I read my first romance, The Black Lyon by Jude Deveraux (still have the copy). I was hooked on historical romance, especially if a cowboy was on the cover. When I married my cowboy and realized there was more manure on the floor in my house than the authors let on in the books, I switched to paranormal - hoping to magically sweep up said crap. The Roomba comes close.

Thanks for a great blog! Good job, Trish!!

Brenda said...

Fab post. Awww, I remember reading and rereading the Black Stallion series and Misty. Do you ladies remember a story about a little black pony--the title is Little Black, A Pony.

Marianne Stephens said...

I fell in love with romance books when I got hooked on Barbara Cartland, too! Grabbed every book I could find that she wrote.
I thin out my supply or books on occasion, but will always keep my Barbara Cartland collection!

Trish said...

Carey,

I imagine that is every writer's dream, that we'll connect with our readers and inspire the people who pick up our books to keep reading and that they'll remember us with fondness after we're gone.

Trish said...

Sheri,

Thank you! I'd forgotten about the Misty books--but yeah, they were right up there with the Black Stallion books for me.

I read a lot of historicals too, including Jude Deveraux, but the author who really hooked me on historical romance was Julie Garwood. I loved her books. She was an auto buy for years. It's funny, I love romantic suspense but never took to her contemporary RS.

Trish said...

Brenda,

The Black Stallion series was my favorite growing up. But I don't remember reading anything about a black pony. Do you remember what the book's premise was about?

Trish said...

Marianne,

As tame as those old Barbara Cartland books were, they were still an eye-opening for a very innocent fourteen-fifteen year old. LOL

Zee Monodee said...

Hey Trish

Great blog! My first romance love was Jane Austen. My dad was a British-literature lover and my first ever JA was Sense and Sensibility, a fitting choice for your daughter when she turns 11! I went on to read Emma and Pride and Prejudice. Then when I had the 'classics' in, my dad introduced me to Barbara Cartland at the local library, and I was a goner.
From there on it went to Harlequin, Mills & Boon, to the single-title authors.

Speaking of books featuring love and horses, have you tried the Jilly Cooper books such as Riders and Polo? The writing is to die for, not to mention the heroes, in particular the infamous Rupert Campbell-Black. :)

Hugs!

Trish said...

Hey Zee,

I was expecting quite a few people to mention Austen. I didn't actually read P&P or S&S until college and by then I was already devouring the Mills and Boon and Silhouette had launched their Intimate Moments line and I was completely hooked.

I haven't tried any of the Jilly Cooper books, I'll have to hunt those down. Thanks for the recommendation!

Charli Mac said...

The Outsiders. Hands down. I will always love Dallas Winston.