We at Magic Dog Press have many wonderful qualities, but writing romance is not one of them. Our books frequently speak of love, but seldom is there anything romantic or elevated about it. Luckily, other authors aren’t similarly challenged.
Today the Magic Dog meets June Williams, a first-time indie writer who met her co-authors through an online Jane Austen community, where they all wrote fanfiction. In Honor and Integrity, they’ve included seven short stories based on Austen’s characters and two non-Austen stories.
Bodie: Hi, June, thanks for meeting us. Mr. Darcy is your romantic ideal, I take it.
June: Darcy has his flaws like any other person, but yes, he has a lot of traits most women find desireable. It’s curious that he’s considered a romantic hero when he failed at his one romantic gesture. In Pride and Prejudice, his proposal had some very sweet words:
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
Bodie: Famous words indeed, and many women would swoon over them. Personally, I might feel a little silly having someone say that to me, but still, it’s a lovely sentiment.
June: But Lizzy Bennet slammed him down hard.
“If I could feel gratitude, I would now thank you. But I cannot.”
His second proposal – well, he didn’t make a second proposal. All he said was:
“If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged.”
Nothing overtly romantic.
Bodie: So what makes him a romantic hero?
June: It wasn’t his words; it was his actions. Writing love scenes is more than sweet words and romantic gestures. If a man gave me flowers and chocolates, I’d thank him but the gesture would mean little to me. Lizzy Bennet grew in love with Darcy when she saw his actions – he saved her family’s reputation by getting Wickham to marry Lydia, and he did it quietly so Lizzy wouldn’t find out about it.
Bodie: There was also the Wickham angle. Darcy became brother-in-law to the man who almost ruined Georgiana Darcy.
Bodie: So how do we authors (particularly those of us who tend to throw popcorn at the TV and invent our own dialog when Romance threatens) write love scenes?
June: First off, know your characters. If your heroine hates flowers and chocolates, then don’t have your hero give them to her, unless you’re writing an argument. Figure out what your character values and use that as the basis for a love scene. If she is a DIY person, maybe he should give her a table saw and offer to help her make something. If he wants to climb Mount Everest, maybe she should help him train. If there’s a kidnapping or murder, they should help and support each other. No trite stuff. If you want trite words, buy a greeting card.
Bodie: (laughs) What else?
June: Get inside your characters’ heads. You’ve heard of the term “IKEA fic” – sex scenes that describe how Tab A enters Slot B; very mechanical, no feelings. In a movie, you would see the characters’ feelings in their facial expressions and body language; in writing, we have to describe everything. How does she feel when he kisses her, and does she tell him why? True love doesn’t come from romantic gestures; true love comes after a lot of relationship build-up. Put your characters through the proverbial wringer!
Bodie: There are some folks who do like the typical flowers and chocolates route, even greeting cards.
June: Of course. But that’s not what makes me fall in love with a character. In one of my modern stories in Honor and Integrity, Lizzy rescues Darcy from a kidnapper and supports him through the PTSD counseling process. The romantic gestures – like flowers and gifts – can follow, but they don’t lead.
Thank you, dear readers, for joining us in our chat. Please leave a comment below, telling us what makes you love a person or character. June and her co-author are giving out one ebook copy of Honor and Integrity to a lucky commenter. Entry is open to worldwide readers and closes on 30 July 2012.
About Honor and Integrity
What if Mr. Darcy’s mother was still alive? What if the Bennet sisters had suitors who were unacceptable? What if Elizabeth didn’t realize Darcy’s identity? And what if three authors of Jane Austen-inspired stories put their heads together and challenged each other with creating stories which contain the words ‘honor’ or ‘integrity’?
This collection of nine short stories contains sweet, romantic and intriguing stories across Regency, fantasy and modern genres.
You can find steampunk, deception, manipulation, theft, murder, love, marriage, coffee and many more themes in this volume.