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Archive for October 11th, 2007

Favorite Romance Themes  —  Annie West

 

Hi Fatin, and thank you so much for inviting me along to blog here! This is a new site to me and I’ve really enjoyed catching up on recent posts.

 

Rather than talk today about a particular book or part of the writing process, I thought it might be fun to explore something I’ve been pondering over for a while – the link between modern romances and fairy tales. I don’t know about you but I was hooked on fairy tales as a child. I had a huge illustrated book with stories from all around the world and I loved to pore over it, enjoying again and again the times when the good triumphed and the evil-doers got their come-uppance.

 

Then one day I was at a romance writers’ conference and the speaker asked us to jot down our 3 favorite fairy tales. What made this particularly intriguing that we were then asked to think about the books we wrote and compare them with the 3 fables we’d listed. Snap! It was amazing how well they correlated! One of my friends put down her favorite story as Beauty and the Beast. And guess what – she loves to write about wounded heroes who need saving by the woman they love.

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Personally I’m a Cinderella sort of girl, though Sleeping Beauty ran a close second. (Number 3 varied between several contenders). I know, I know, in some versions of those stories the heroine is pretty passive, not active in achieving her happy ending. But then it depends on the version you read. I have to say I’m a sucker for stories of transformation (ugly duckling stories of whatever sort) and of awakening. And you have to admit these are great themes for romances, especially when they’re updated a little to our twenty first century.

 

What was my first Presents novel about? It was a transformation story, about a woman who finds herself pretending to play the role of rich man’s mistress while they work together to bring down a common enemy and win back her family inheritance. Marina is intelligent, capable and independent, but with a poor self image that dates back to her teenage years. It’s only through Ronan that she learns to see herself as others do, and to believe in her own femininity and desirability. Double whammy – transformation and awakening!

 

Thinking through the stories I’ve written since then there are definite themes. My most recent release ‘For the Sheikh’s Pleasure’ is about a strong woman who has overcome terrible trauma in her past, but who is unawakened to true passion. Sleeping Beauty anyone?

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My next release, ‘The Greek Tycoon’s Unexpected Wife’ again has strong Cinderella elements but then there are definite elements of Beauty and the Beast or perhaps The Frog Prince. Stavros needs to change before he’s a fit hero for Tessa! As I was wrestling with that book I was in a garden shop and found a lovely cast iron frog wearing a gold crown. He seemed to embody the struggle I was facing, turning my hero into the man he needed to be in order to win his heroine. That frog came home with me and now sits in the garden where I can see him from my desk. Of course his name was Stavros just like my hero!

 

I’m currently working on my seventh Presents novel and along the way I’ve tapped into lots of other themes as well. It’s so much fun to draw correlations with traditional tales. After all, those folk tales have survived because they delve into themes that resonate with people around the world. I suspect that our favorites probably tell us something about our personalities (or at least the books we were given as children!).

 

Think about the romances you most like to read. I suspect you’ll find some common themes there. Hidden identities? Major life changes? The transformation from innocence to experience or from insecurity to success? Are they about strength and courage under adversity? Wounded heroes in need of love and redemption? Heroines who outwit and outclass wicked villains? I wonder if they relate back to the stories you liked most as a child.

 

Which fairy tales do you think make the best romances? Do you have favorite romances that link back to fairy tale themes?

 

To celebrate her first official visit to Novel Thoughts, Annie is giving away a signed copy of her most recent book ‘For the Sheikh’s Pleasure’ to one person chosen at random from those who post a comment on this blog.

  

Annie is newly published with Harlequin Presents. Her first three Presents novels were published this year. She lives with her family on the east coast of Australia and loves fantasising about wonderful men and their love lives! You can find out more about Annie and her books by visiting her website at: http://www.annie-west.com

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