by Joan Kayse
Back in 2000, I was a naive, wet behind the ears, dazed and confused newbie writer. I joined Romance Writers of America because I thought it was important to belong to the professional organization of my newfound fledgling career. (When I say fledgling, I mean barely cracked out of the egg, LOL)
I attended a local chapter meeting and was introduced to my first published author. I listened enraptured as she discussed some of the ins and outs of her career. I punched the girl next to me and whispered "Wow, she's smart! Um, who is she?" Well it was Elizabeth Bevarly, a woman who wrote with humor and fun and hot sensuality. And she lived in MY hometown! My own writing and (echoing) "Journey to publication" has benefited from her insights, her sharing of craft and her friendship.
Although Elizabeth's career spans nearly two decades now, she's not quite ready to be put out to pasture. With more than five dozen books for a half dozen publishers, she got her start at Harlequin/Silhouette where she wrote for four different lines, then moved into single-title, most recently with Berkley. The second book in her Derby trilogy, Ready & Willing, will be published in November 2008, with the third, as yet untitled, following in spring of 2009. Liz, her husband and son live in her native Kentucky...just a stone's throw away from a number of Thoroughbred horse farms.
Without further ado, I give you Elizabeth Bevarly! Take it away Liz!
So I've spent the last year and a half working on a trilogy for Berkley that takes place in my hometown of Louisville during the two weeks leading up to the Kentucky Derby. And as I've been writing, I've discovered some things I never realized before. Number one, that it's way cool to not have to do research for the locale, since I know Louisville like the back of my hand. Number two, that I can hang out in places I normally wouldn't hang out for the sake of giving my book that authentic feel, and then take the expenses off of my taxes. And three, that romantic heroes and Thoroughbred horses have a lot in common.
What? You say you never realized this before, either? Well, pull up a chair. Auntie Liz is here to point a few similarities out to you.
Their names. When was there ever a Kentucky Derby winner named Blue or Misty? Similarly, when was the last time you read a romance novel where the hero was named John Smith or Mike Jones? The same way Thoroughbreds have names like Da' Tara and Tale of Ekati and Recapturetheglory, heroes always have unlikely names. I cop to that myself, since the hero of FAST & LOOSE, released in April, is named Cole Early. (Which is at least better than Big Brown Early.)
Their physiques. Like Thoroughbreds, our heroes are always sleek and muscular, and more often than not, they're brunettes. Fortunately, unlike Thoroughbreds, our heroes don't have hair all over their bodies--at least, they haven't since the '70s. Possibly the early '80s. But horses and heroes both are often described as as powerfully built with silky dark hair. (Thankfully, the similarities end with the legs, since I can't imagine any romantic hero walking around on those spindly things.)
They need major pampering when they're hurt. Romantic heroes seem to get shot at an alarming rate. Often, they're shot someplace where there's no one around but the heroine to encounter them and take care of them. Just like in all those horse books we read when we were kids, where there was only the young female rider to care for the injured animal she finds out in the middle of nowhere and nurses him back to health. Heroes, however, show their gratitude to the heroine by doing more than just winning the big race. A lot more. Whoa. And on that note...
They're studs. Unless there's some major problem with the bloodline, Thoroughbreds aren't usually gelded. Thankfully, neither are our heroes. 'Nuff said.
They can't be their best without the right trainer. And, it goes without saying, the romantic heroine is always the right trainer. She takes the hero from being a raffish, headstrong animal prone to wildness and impetuousness in some ways, and turns him into a confident, headstrong animal prone to wildness and impetuousness in other ways. (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.)
So see? Thoroughbreds and romantic heroes have a lot in common. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to take my new hero (named Finn Guthrie) and describe his physique (powerfully built with silky dark hair), then give him a boo-boo the heroine has to tend to (though I won't be responsible for any shooting during Derby, so I'll just skin his knee or something), then show how very ungelded he is (ahem), and then have my heroine train him to full capacity. If you know what I mean.
Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
I think one of the funnest things to do is name my characters, especially my heroes. What are some of your favorite hero names from books? Or if you were a Thoroughbred, what would your name be? Me, I think I'd call myself Destinations South, after my very first book.
Liz is giving away TWO sets of the OPUS trilogies and TWO autographed copies of her latest book Fast & Loose. Hm, she didn't say how we'd decide on winners but I'm going to say that the F&L books go to the poster with the best "Thoroughbred" name.