Since February is the traditional month of love – Valentine’s Day and Leap Year – I thought it might be fun to have a male perspective on this whole romance-writing and love business. I sent an invite to Dr. Big – not to be confused with Mr. Big from SATC fame – to get some of his feelings and ideas.
While waiting for Dr. Big's response, I’m rather enjoying the golf game on his HD wide-screen telly. Hmmm, men swinging long poles, great back views of said men. Wow, that Tiger Woods is something else!
[cough, cough] Welcome, Dr. Big, glad you're here.
Dr. Big: Wait a minute! You weren't supposed to identify me! If any of my golfing buds find out I’m doing this interview, I'm in for a lot of bogies!
Jo: Calm down, Dr. Big. I can assure you, the only male visiting us is P226. Uh, he does like to play with his guns, however. Hmmm, and I heard that George Clooney likes to hang out here occasionally.
Dr. Big: From what I've seen on celebrity info stuff, most of George's female companions are the models for the book covers, not the creators.
Jo: George does like his women.
First question, Dr. Big, I understand you have a fairly definite conception of what the typical romance writer looks like. Please share that with us.
Dr. Big: At first, I thought very attractive women were writing somewhat autobiographical novels. Part of my mistake, as I found out later, was that I mistook the cover pictures as the author and her lover. I also was acquainted with one well-known romance writer who was quite attractive.
Jo: You’re speaking of our good friend author Brenda Novak. Yes, she’s very pretty.
[aside] I think Dr. Big has had a crush on BN for many years.
But, do tell, Dr. Big – are you saying you mistook those rather revealing clench covers for the authors? Oh my, how delightful! Were you ever tempted to buy one of those books, just to become better acquainted with said author? And did your perception change?
Dr. Big: My wife is a member of RWA and she invited me to attend a conference. I was quite excited to meet some of the writer babes. As it turned out, I thought I was at a Weight Watcher's conference. Needless to say, I changed my mind about writers.
Jo: OMG, you're NOT implying that romance writers are overweight housewives are you? I must assure you that the Romance Bandits are teachers, lawyers, engineers, and nurses, as well as wives and mothers. Are you surprised by that fact?
Dr. Big: I'm sure they have teachers, lawyers, and engineers at any Weight Watcher convention. Sorry – that is kind of a cheap shot. Nine in ten of my golfing buddies are candidates for a tummy tuck!
Jo: [seriously into eye rolling]
Most of our heroes in romances are what we writers call alpha males. Do you consider yourself an alpha male?
Dr. Big: Alpha male, huh? Sounds like Greek stuff. I am pretty well endowed on the golf course, except that is not how us golfers refer to a golf stud.
I am still looking for a romance novel that has a low handicapper as the hero. Maybe something going with the cart girls? Although, most of the cart girls are not much to look at, just fast with a Dr. Pepper.
Jo: [eyes now in danger of flying out of head]
I understand you're married, quite happily in fact, to a romance writer. Please refrain from revealing your spouse's identity, but tell us – what’s living with a romance writer like? Do you find yourself constantly supplying, uh, research for her books?
Dr. Big: If I were really honest, I believe my wife learned a lot from me about that stuff. I just never thought it would make it into her books!
Jo: [Aside – in your dreams, Dr. Big]
Interesting. Do you think she had anything to teach YOU about romance and sensuality?
Dr. Big: She definitely was the catalyst! My wife really was a very attractive and sensual woman.
Jo: [choking over the use of past tense.]
Dr. Big: One day I decided to show my golf buddies a picture of my wife, as I was sick of hearing about some of their wives. I showed them my favorite picture, but when they were staring at it I realized it was a few years old – like about 15!
Jo: Are you saying you carry a fifteen-year old picture of your wife in your wallet? No, don’t answer that!
Back to the topic -- you don't think your wife ever practiced any of her scenes on you? I mean, tried a move just to see if it would work? How would you feel about that?
Dr. Big: That is a big slant on reality! After reading her first book, I tried to figure out just who she was inventing for her more than graphic sex scenes. I figure she got her information from research and other writers because little of what I was reading had to do with our reality. Of course, I would never tell, anyway.
Jo: Romance novels always have what we call the HEA, happily ever after. Do you believe in that stuff in your reality?
Dr. Big: I really am at a "happily ever after" place in my life. (Excuse me while I wipe my eyes.) I believe there is a definite place for romantic fiction. It is kind of like condensing a long life into the best parts. Nothing wrong with that!
Jo: Not at all. That's very sweet. In fact, you might redeem yourself yet.
I understand that you read a lot of professional journals and nonfiction. Do you realize that women readers corner the book market? What do you think about that?
Dr. Big: My take on the gender issue is that men are very visual and reality based, while women seem to like written fantasy and non-reality. (That should really stir up the ladies!)
Jo: Come on, Dr. Big, ‘fess up. Have you ever read a romance novel?
Dr. Big: Other than my wife’s writing, the only time I was tempted was when she brought a
bunch of erotica back from a conference. Now that really held my interest!
Jo: What’s the best part of being married to a romance writer?
Dr. Big: The travel! I took her to Scotland so I could fulfill my dream of playing at St. Andrew's, the birthplace of golf. She visited castles and took notes for a forthcoming book. Seriously, I greatly admire creativity. The ability to create a story from the imagination is admirable to say the least. I expect that writers of romance have to be very interesting people. I know my wife is. Jo: Aww. Valentine’s Day is coming up next week. What do you plan for YOUR sweetheart, Dr. Big?
Dr. Big: First, let’s drop the sweetheart reference. We made a deal when we got married not to refer to each other as if we were greeting card writers. I think we also agreed that our romantic relationship cannot be improved upon by copping out to the Hallmark hype. Our love for each other is such that no frivolous gift could improve upon it.
Jo: [Aside – I take it said romance writer is NOT getting a Valentine’s Day surprise this year.]
What’s the best gift you ever gave your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day?
Dr. Big: There you go again, trying to invade our wonderful love affair with the suggestion of a trinket of some kind. My best gift is my sincere affection and admiration for the person who completes my life. Our affection has brought to life seven children, fourteen grandchildren, and a partner I stand in awe of today.
I know you would prefer my offer of sex, but I will not take the bait. For me it would be like trying to shoot pool with a rope. Let’s say, I prefer to be the model for your male studs in your fantasy stories and believe the fantasy myself and let the reality be our secret life.
Jo: There you have it in a nutshell, readers, why most men don't write or read romance novels. They're too damned literal!
Disclaimer: Author disavows any liability for neaderthal-ish remarks by interviewee.
So, readers, do you think men are so different from women when it comes to romantic gestures? Do you like your man/woman to surprise you romantically? Or you more a plan-ahead type? Do you agree with Dr. Big -- that women are more into fantasy and men are more reality-oriented?