Author Archives: trudystattle

Exploring the Creative Process, Part IV: Interview with Nancy Klein

We invited Thornton and Guy fan fiction  author Nancy Klein to share how she works and offer some advice.

GWIW

What type of environment do you need to write?

Quiet helps. A cup of coffee. I’ll often sit down to write after I’ve just exercised or done a bit of meditation and my mind is quiet.

 
How do your ideas come to you? Do you always write them or do you let them disappear?
A lot of my ideas come when I’m doing my daily walk. I’ll just go along day dreaming and things will often pop into my head and I’ll play with them. I try to write them down when I get home-this works sometimes, and sometimes the ideas are gone. Ideas also come to me in my sleep, but I never remember to keep pen and paper by the bed.
Nancy Klein
Nancy Klein
Do you plan a story from the beginning to end or start with an idea and let the chapters come to you as they do?
I have to have a plan from beginning to end–not every detail, but just to know where the main thrust of the story is going to go.
 
Do you prefer writing easy, quick stories or long, layered stories?
Long, layered stories are what I write, even when I think I’m going to create a quick story. Ideas end up branching off one another, and the story sometimes takes a detour or two.
 
Which do you find easier to write: dialogue or description or are the equally hard/easy?
Dialogue is by far the easiest for me–my betas often have to prod me to put more details in my descriptions.
 
Is there anything that you won’t write or feel uncomfortable writing?
I won’t write detailed sex scenes–I feel silly doing it. 
[Armitage Authors note: Don’t believe that her stories lack passion, however! Nancy’s sex scenes pack a powerful punch without all the mechanical details.]
 
What do you do to cure writer’s block? What advice can you give to new writers who might be scared to post their stories?
Just keep writing, even if you do a few pages and throw them away. Keep at it. Write descriptions of your characters, things they might say. Try writing the last chapter first, just for fun. Everyone is afraid of posting their stories–I still am, and I’ve posted three pretty long ones. Ask someone else who writes to look at your story. I have the best betas in the world–they make sure I stay true to the characters and details, and nag me when I’ve gone too long without posting (like now, ahem). Also, reading helps me. I will read something wonderful–often poetry–and it will inspire me to get in front of the computer again.
 
What is your favorite book and why?
I don’t have a favorite book–it seems like every fifth book I read is my new favorite. But there are some that I read over and over again, and I feel like they are fresh that 20th, 30th time–North and South, Wives and Daughters, Persuasion, Jane Eyre, Shirley. Right now I am in love with Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. What she does with point of view and plot is amazing.
 
howfartheworldwillbend
Nancy’s North and South story, How Far the World Will Bend, is available at Amazon here.
And don’t miss her fantastic Guy and Marian story, Grant What I Wish, at Wattpad.com here.

Exploring the Creative Process, Part II: Interview with Georgia Hill

Today we continue our series about the creative writing process by asking author Georgia Hill about how she works.

Armitage Author Georgia Hill with spaniels Bert and Georgie. Click on the picture to go to her author page at Harper Impulse

Armitage Author Georgia Hill with spaniels Bert and Georgie.

What type of environment do you need to write?

It depends what stage of writing I’m at. If it’s the first draft or I’m at the jotting ideas down stage, I can write just about anywhere and using anything! When I get to the second and subsequent drafts (which I always find far more difficult), I have to sit at my desk in my study. I have the radio on very low and hunker down. I have a huge sheet of paper stuck on the wall with a plot outline and a notebook next to me. It reminds me where I’ve got to, how each character speaks, what they look like, their mannerisms, the place names of the setting and other details which I’m inclined to forget!

How do your ideas come to you? Do you always write them or do you let them disappear?

Sometimes ideas arrive in dreams. It’s only when I write them down that they seem too crazy to work. Often a story is suggested to me by the characters turning up in my head. They won’t leave me alone until I’ve written them down. I lived with Rachel and Gabe, Hetty, Richard and Edward in While I Was Waiting for a long time. In my next book, Matt came along more or less fully formed. I know exactly what he looks and sounds like and even what he wears. The heroine is vaguer but, as I write, she’s coming into better focus. I have an image board immediately in front of me, which helps. I have a ton of notebooks full of messy jottings. I don’t let ideas for stories disappear exactly but I’m guilty of writing them down and then forgetting all about them. I found an outline for a story about two sisters at the weekend and really can’t remember recording it. Sounded quite good too!

WIWW final cover copy

Do you plan a story from the beginning to end or start with an idea and let the chapters come to you as they do?

I’m most definitely not a planner. It’s my undoing now I’m writing novels with more complicated plots and dual narratives. Hence the notebook and plot outline – colour co-ordinated to show the different time frames. But – I’m writing romance, so I know the beginning and the end – it’s the soggy middle I have most trouble with.

Which do you find easier to write: dialogue or description or are the equally hard/easy?

I don’t find anything particularly easy to write although novellas take less time – from the first draft through to the final edit simply because there are fewer words to wrangle. I love writing layered, more complicated novels as those are the stories I most like to read. My first draft is almost entirely comprised of dialogue. I add any necessary description in later, when I sit down and attempt the second draft. I often come across notes: ‘Add more detail here’ is usually what I’ve told myself!

Say it with sequins

What advice can you give to new writers who might be scared to post their stories?

I sympathise. Posting something the first time is terrifying. However, my advice would be to go for it. It took nine or ten years but putting my writing on a forum led to me getting a publishing contract. The first step is never easy but it can develop your writing career – and a reading audience. And, you never know, they may absolutely love your writing.

What is your favourite book and why?

I have lots of favourite books but I suppose my all time fave is Pride and Prejudice. I love Lizzy Bennet, the wit, Jane Austen’s insights into her characters – and the plotting is sublime.

 

Find Georgia’s works at her Amazon author page here.

Amazon UK page here.

Our previous interview with Georgia can be found here.

Interview with the unsurpassable Kate Forrester

If you have spent pleasurable hours diving into Armitage-related fan fiction but haven’t yet run into Kate Forrester (alias Khandy), then you’re in for a wonderful treat! When it comes to Richard’s various roles, Kate is the queen of versatility and volume. She has written stories for at least 8 of his characters, including the good doctor, Alec Track.

Dr Track

Your interest in fan fiction need reviving? Dr Track is here to help.

However, it’s not versatility or volume alone that gives her claim to fan fiction fame. Kate is a gifted storyteller, whose work pulses with real emotions and drama. She’s also proved she can create compelling original work. The Armitage Authors Network is happy to showcase Kate and her talent.

Armitage Authors: You’ve been a fan of Richard’s for a long time. Tell us how you discovered Mr. Armitage.

Kate: My daughter was given a box set of BBC dramas, North and South was one of them, for Christmas in 2006.  We sat down one Sunday afternoon to watch one episode and four hours later we finished having been unable to stop watching. My ovaries didn’t explode but there was a loud thud.

AA: You have written fan fiction for such a wide range of Richard’s characters. Do you have a favorite?

Kate: That’s tough. I like different ones for different reasons. A New Track because it I proved to myself I could write a story. Black Knight’s Redemption because I began to learn about how to construct a plot. The Gruinard Project because I set myself the task of writing a novel length story that would hold the readers interest. I suppose looking back on them all there were two where it all comes together in a way I was really pleased with. The characters, plot, story, the actual writing – all of it, just seemed to gel perfectly in Let Right Be Done and Absolution.  But my own favourite was Redemption of a Haunted Man. I loved writing about Peter MacDuff. Richard had very little screen time but he blew me away and I wanted to explore MacDuff further.

[All the above-mentioned stories can be found on her Wattpad page.]

I have to mention North and South because it so loved. Of all the things I have written A Nightingale Sang was the hardest I think because the characters were so loved I felt this enormous amount of responsibility to the original that I felt a little restricted.

AA: What is it about Richard’s work that is compelling to you?

Kate: It’s his attention to detail. He invests so much in each character and that makes them so compelling. Like Peter Jackson I’m drawn to his stillness. I find it absorbing. It makes his explosions all the more interesting. I also love the breadth of his work. He has played everything from posh boys, poor boys, soldiers, spies, teachers, doctors, real people, fantasy, drug dealers, philanders, murderers, pedophiles, comedy, drama, ancient, modern, lover, husband, and father. He has done all this on stage, small screen and big screen. I guess what I’m saying is I love his versatility

AA: Were you a writer before you discovered Mr Armitage? If not, did writing fanfiction encourage you to write your own original stories?

Kate: No, I wasn’t a writer but, I was a dreamer and so when I discovered fanfiction on C19 I decided to try my hand at it. I feel that fanfiction allowed me to develop the skills to be a writer. It provided not only an audience of readers but, also critics and editors as well. It gave me the courage to publish something of my own.

AA: What was your first published work?

Kate: My first published work is called: Weathering the Storm which I adapted from my fanfiction In the Bleak MidwinterIt tells the story of a lonely Yorkshire farmer and the women who literally crashes into his life. Like all my novels it is available at Amazon.

AA: Tell us about your most recent release.

Kate: My latest novel is called The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing. It is set around a celebrity dance show and tells how shy, gauche, red haired Molly Cole is paired with Oscar winning actor, Adam Elliot. As the couple dance through each chapter, a troubled past is exposed and secrets are laid bared before they find the courage to realise that the best things really do happen while you dance.

Kate's Book

AA: Is there a work of yours that is particularly close to your heart?

Kate: Obviously Degrees of Silence is very close to my heart, as a lot of Sabrina’s experiences as a deaf person are actually my experiences – for example, in the book, there is horrible incident in a shop which is based on something that happened to me.

AA:  What would you like Armitage fans to know about you or your work?

Kate: Most people know that I am deaf but not many know that I was twenty–two years old before it was picked up. I had been through school and nurse training and nobody realised not even my parents.

I’m also colour blind which is very unusual in girls. I never buy clothes on my own because I worry about what they will look like. So two of the hardest things I have to write about are sounds and colour. And my deafness means I cannot really hear Richards voice that well.

My dog Rufus is the hero of Redemption of a Haunted Man

I am a nurse but after A New Track I swore I would not write another medical romance but, my characters do suffer a lot and there is normally a hospital scene in my work somewhere.

I’m working on a new novel:  In the Shadow of the Games a re-working of The Gruinard Project set round the 2012 Olympics. I also have a new project in the planning stage about a detective in WW2 based in Cornwall.

Armitage Authors interview with Georgia Hill

The Armitage Authors Network is pleased to have Georgia Hill back on the site with us. Georgia shared with us some of the impact of Richard Armitage’s first entrance into the world as John Thornton in our post about the BBC mini-series’ tenth anniversary here.

Thornton

Armitage Authors Network: You’ve been a fan of Richard’s for quite a long time. Tell us a little about how you discovered Mr. Armitage.

Georgia Hill: Like many fans, I discovered Richard Armitage when he played John Thornton in North and South. I have to admit to hating the character in the first episode but, by the end of the second, I was in love! I caught the last two episodes on a drama channel recently and it hasn’t lost any of its impact. I loved the book and adored the miniseries.

AAN: Did you write fan fiction for the Armitage fandom? And was it your first attempt at writing fiction?

GH: I didn’t exactly write fan fiction but found I was basing male characters on John Thornton and their physical characteristics were definitely inspired by Richard! Also, I found little details from the television series found their way into whatever I was writing. In In a Class of His Own, Nicky Hathaway has a bouquet given to her and they’re yellow roses of course!

AAN: Oh, I read In a Class of His Own and remember some of the North and South similarities I recognized in the story!

Geogria Hill

Link

If you didn’t write fan fiction, what impelled you to begin writing?

GH:  I had two characters who refused to leave my head. I had to write them down. They became Perdita and the gorgeous Nick Wainwright in Pursued by Love, my first book. I began posting chapters on the website C19 and things have evolved from there. It’s been amazing.

AAN: C19 has helped nurture a flock of budding writers over the past decade. For many of these authors, John Thornton or North and South was a big influence.

GH:  North and South has definitely had a big influence on my writing.

AAN:  When did you publish your first book?

GH:  My first book was Pursued by Love. It came out in 2009 and is about a troubled actor making a new television version of Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen is another huge influence!

AAN:  I know you’ve just released a new book. What is it about?

GH:  I’m so excited about this! While I Was Waiting is my first historical novel. It was just released July 2nd. Rachel moves to a rundown cottage in the country and finds a tin full of letters and diaries. They document the story of Hetty who lived and loved during World War One. Rachel gradually pieces together the details of Hetty’s life and, in doing so, learns how to love the man she’s just met. It’s tragic in parts but ultimately life-affirming. I’m very proud of it. (And, by the way, one of the characters is called Richard!)

WIWW final cover copy

Link

AAN:  I love historical fiction. I’m excited that you’ve entered this genre. You have to love history to write historical fiction.

GH:  I love history and have a degree in it. One of the reasons I love living in my part of the UK is its rich history. A mile away is the remains of a major ancient Roman fort, the village I live in is mentioned in the Domesday Book and a hill not far away is rumoured to be where King Arthur slayed a giant! It’s very inspiring. For my next book, I’ve looked to the Jurassic Coast of Devon and Dorset. It’s all about family secrets and fossils – oh and a hunky boat-builder. He’s tall and dark-haired. Must be the North and South influence yet again!

Thank you so much for having me on. Happy reading!

 

For a full list of Georgia’s works, visit her website. Follow her on Twitter as @georgiawrites. On Facebook here. And at Pinterest.

New Vitality for the Blog – Introducing Lillianschild!

Lorraine-Mar13-02

Hello! We’re Back!

Thought we’d vanished? No such thing. The Armitage Authors Network is back with a new assistant administrator and contributor: Lillianschild (also known as Lexie171170 in some venues).

Lillianschild has been active in the RA fandom for five years and has rather extensive knowledge of the fan fiction out there. She’s agreed to help Jazzbaby and me introduce our blog readers to stories and writers that make up this fantastically creative fan world.

We hope you’ll welcome Lillianschild to the blog.  If you don’t already know her, you’ll enjoy reading about her discovery of Richard and some of how her writing takes form. Links to her stories are found at the end of our interview. Enjoy getting to know our new assistant blog administrator!

 Tell us a little about how you discovered Mr. Armitage.

Although I’d seen his first jobs on the screen- including Cats- just like most of Richard’s earliest well-wishers, I truly “discovered” him and started following his career with interest when I saw his portrayal of Mr Thornton in North & South.

Living in South America means I didn’t get to see his breakthrough performance back in 2004 but some five years later. Actually, I stumbled upon it on a now defunct blog written by an anglophile and devoted to shows and films from the UK. It had a special section focusing on programmes inspired on literature and had a great directory of BBC costume dramas, amongst which was North & South.

I was already familiar with Gaskell, whose Milton tale I’d read as part of one of the four British Literature courses I attended to get my English teaching degree. Having a huge soft spot for Victorianism and the Industrial Age and being an incurable romantic, I was pleasantly surprised when I learnt the novel had been adapted by the BBC… and well, the brooding, tall, dark and handsome man on the DVD cover sealed the deal for me.

Mr Armitage grabbed my attention the minute he appeared on the screen for the first time and stood on that platform surveying his “kingdom”. I just knew I was about to witness something really special. And oh, he won my heart over with his “No one loves me – no one cares for me, but you, mother”!

Needless to say, I too am amongst the besotted well-wishers who devoured the show in one sitting and stayed up until the wee small hours of the morning to see John and Margaret’s love story unfold. And that was just the beginning, I binged on it several times in a row- once with my Mum, who insisted on my playing the second DVD when episode II finished even though I had to get up for work four hours later.

I’ve lost count of how many copies of North & South I’ve given away as presents to my friends and my parents’, all of whom have had nothing but words of praise for the production and the wonderful cast, including our lovely Mr Armitage. Of course, I’ve taken pity on the males from time to time and supplied them with copies of Spooks and Strike Back.:)

Oh, my, that was long-winded! I’ve just remembered the phrase ” a little” was part of the original question. 😀

What character was it that first impelled you to write fan fiction? 

That’d be Smallville’s Lex Luthor.

I suppose what attracted me to this particular portrayal of Superman’s nemesis is what also won me over when I saw Sir Guy of Gisborne in Dominic Minghella’s Robin Hood. Both are survivors with a tragic childhood, constantly fighting to find their place in the world while struggling with the darkness within them. Both take morally questionable decisions that send them into a downward spiral from which they try to emerge when love unexpectedly comes knocking at their door; a love that becomes a destructive obsession when the only woman capable of seeing beyond their protective armour chooses their nemesis over them.

I loved Lex’s humanity as portrayed by Michael Rosenbaum on that show just as much as Richard’s incarnation of Sir Guy. They’re both very gifted actors, who managed to elevate a cartoonish character off the page and turn him into a fascinating multi-layered creation. Both Lex and Guy are so human in their flaws and therefore, so relatable- they’re perfect embodiments of humankind’s duality.

The reason why I decided to put pen to paper and write my first fanfic was pretty much the same that led me to create my first story for RA’s fandom, the need to set right what I felt the writers had messed up. It was also my way to honour the painstaking and loving labour of two actors whose creations were often maligned with capricious and unbelievable retcons or OoC storylines- a karma for many a character portrayed by Mr Armitage (Lucas North, anyone?).

I wrote fifty-four fanfics with Lex as an inpiration before activity in the fandom started to dwindle when the show went off the air and my Luthor Muse stopped whispering into my ear.

Were you a writer before you found Richard Armitage?

Yes. I’ve always been fond of telling stories- I remember having my mum put them on paper when I was too young to write on my own.

I began writing fanfic almost nine years ago. After having read fanfiction for two years, I told myself it was high time I gave it a try. 2006 was the breaking point for me; I realized I had spent too much time correcting other people’s essays and papers- an English teacher’s karma- and I asked myself: why not put pen to paper and do it for fun?

Although Richard wasn’t the first actor to ignite my creativity, he was the one responsible for reawakening my Muse after almost a year of inactivity.

Is fanfic just a hobby for you or do you hope to go further with your writing?

I consider writing the perfect means of escapism. Still, I won’t deny I’d love to go further with it. Starting a story from scratch with characters that you infuse life to and whose backgrounds you invent can be liberating, but I haven’t reached that point yet.

I’ve toyed with the idea of a Guy of Gisborne or North & South-novel. I love their historical periods and both leading men have a very special place in my heart; plus, they’re in the Public Domain.

However, publishing a book in paper or digital format – even independently- would be a venture I can’t afford right now. Writing in English means I’d have to commercialise the novel via the UK or America, and my country has no royalty or tax agrements with either of them. In short, I’d have to pay taxes everywhere and charge an astronomic price to my readers in order to make it worthwhile. And then there’s the nightmare of how to cash in my sales.

It’d take a whole book to explain to you all the intricacies of Argentina’s current economic and copyright/royalty policies, all of which violate rights protected by our Constitution. And I guarantee once finished you’d still be completely at a loss.

In short, I’d love to. But, unless things change dramatically here, it’ll remain just a dream.

What type of environment do you need to write?

I’ve been known to write in the oddest of places – from a bench in the park to the waiting room at my dentist’s. I don’t need to be anywhere in particular to be able to write. I’ve always been a multi-tasking kind of person and can work even with background noise. I’ve got the ability to create my own bubble at will even when I’m not alone, to the point that sometimes I don’t know what’s going on around me.

The best time for me to sit down with paper and pen are the summer holidays. As a teacher/tutor I get a forty-day summer holiday every year, and I try to take as much advantage of it as I can so as to have enough material to post throughout the year. Unfortunately, for my readers, that routine was disturbed the last couple of years when I travelled to the UK. There was just too much to see and absorb for me to be able to focus on my writing.

How do your ideas come to you? Do you always write them or do you let them disappear?

There isn’t a fixed pattern. The germ of a story may be triggered by a line of poetry, a few chords, a photo or a particular scene of either a show or film. More often than not ideas seem to come out of the blue; it’s as if someone were whispering them into my ear.

I always start writing when an idea comes to me. I don’t keep a notebook with notes, though, I begin the story right away. 

Do you plan a story from the beginning to end or start with an idea and let the chapters come to you as they do?

I only planned a fic in detail once, and I have to say it was the least satisfying of my works. Considering a large number of the stories I’ve written have an element of mystery in them, I prefer not to know what will happen beforehand. It’s the best approach to surprise readers when the enigma is solved since, in all certainly, I’ll have been the first one to be suprised when writing the twists and turns and the ultimate ending my Muse has come up with.

Do you prefer writing easy, quick stories or long, layered stories?

Long stories used to come easier to me than one-shots when I began writing fanfic. I imagine this is only natural; one can’t expect to run before crawling. The ability to create a scene with a few strokes of the brush comes to a painter after having spent hundreds of hours in front of an easel, and so it is for an amateur or professional writer when writing a brief piece. You can’t paint or write in abstracts without mastering the art of painting or writing with great attention to detail. It’s only after you’ve been through such a descriptive phase that you’ll be able to tell a whole story with a few simple strokes of a brush or a pen.

Writing vignettes or one-shots has been my safe haven during my tutoring months, particularly when the second semester arrives and my workload increases exponentially. Brief pieces allow me to keep my creative juices flowing and my Muse satisfied without keeping my readers hanging. As a matter of fact, that’s how one of my best-received RA-inspired series was born- Guy & Marian’s Acrostic Series.

Guy and Marian

Quick stories are also the perfect vehicle to delve into the mind and heart of a character. I also find this format the most appropriate to deviate from the typical third person omniscient narrator, and it’s the one I’ve chosen for most of my Guy or Guy & Marian fics, the POV being that of the Black Knight. These works have often been described as my most powerful and lyrical, which I suppose is due to the extra care one has to take when choosing the right words and imagery to convey so much in such a small package.

I love writing long, layered stories as well. However, my very busy teaching and tutoring schedule- my working day sometimes lasts twelve hours- leaves me very little time to work on them. So far, I’ve only completed one multi-chaptered fic for RA’s fandom, an Alternate Series 7 Lucas North story called “A Voice in the Dark”.

At present, I’m writing and posting two long fics, “To be Worthy” (a what-if story which explores what impact an earlier acquaintance with Marian and another mentor might have had on Gisborne’s life and ultimate fate) and “From Russia with Love” (another alternate Season 7 fic; this time focusing on Lucas and Vyeta’s marriage).

You can find Lillianschild’s stories at Wattpad and at an Archive of Our Own

 

 

 

 

Love is in the Air: The Best Love Stories Ever Penned

It’s the season for hearts and flowers and The Armitage Authors Network has asked a few of our own talented romance authors — Elizabeth Hanbury, Nancy Klein, Hazel Osmond, and Charlotte Hawkins — to share which written tales of  love are most dear to their hearts.

Discover some traditional favorites and maybe one or two you haven’t read yet. What are your absolute favorite stories of true love?

vod01

 

Elizabeth Hanbury:

Persuasion by Jane Austen

I love Darcy and Lizzie in Pride and Prejudice but Persuasion resonates with me more. It’s a deeply moving, against the odds story of two people who get a second chance at love. It’s also about Anne’s personal journey. Anne is a slightly older heroine who is also the overlooked middle sister at everyone’s beck and call. During the course of the novel she realizes she is the best judge of what will make her happy, and learns how to live her own life and stand up to her family and well-meaning friends. You feel for Anne (and Captain Wentworth, the self made man who never stops loving Anne through the intervening years they have been apart) in such a visceral way you can’t put the novel down.

Favourite scene: When Captain Wentworth ‘placed it before Anne with eyes of glowing entreaty fixed on her for a time’. ‘It’ is one of the most beautiful love letters in literature:

‘You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan.’

Le Sigh.

The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer

One of Heyer’s most tender romances. No spoilers but due to circumstances Sir Anthony (Fanshawe) and Prue (Merriot) spend a lot of time alone. This is different from many of Heyer’s other novels—society at the time didn’t allow unmarried young women to be in a man’s company without a chaperone present.

Prue and Sir Anthony’s romance is also very tactile; Sir Anthony touches Prue on the shoulder or on the hand a great deal.

Georgette Heyer wrote The Masqueraders early on in her own marriage so perhaps that had some bearing on the restrained yet heartfelt passion. The high stakes plot also heightens the intensity of the romance.

Favourites scenes: Sir Anthony fighting a duel on Prue’s behalf (it’s complicated but trust me it’s incredibly romantic), the ‘ride through the night’ and ‘the proposal’, where Tony makes his feelings and desires for Prue very clear.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

There can be only one! The classic love story of John Thornton and Margaret Hale, beautifully imagined by the 2004 BBC adaptation and Richard Armitage’s broodingly powerful yet subtle portrayal of John Thornton. You have to look ‘ard ;0) for the romance in the novel but it’s superbly done.

Devil in Winter by Linda Kleypas

The rake/wallflower romance is a well-worn plot but Devil in Winter is brilliantly executed. The characters are three-dimensional, the pace and sensual tension don’t let up for a moment and the sex scenes are steamy yet also romantic and moving. A modern classic.

Favourite scene: When Evie decides it’s time to end Sebastian’s restraint and helps him lose his bet. Keep your fan ready to cool your blushes while enjoying the heroine taking control.

The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye

the far pav

Not only a wonderful romance but an epic adventure and a story about identity and belonging, set across the class, cultural and race divides in 19th century India.

Ash and Anjuli’s romance is heart wrenching every step of the way. You doubt they can ever be together given who they are (he is a British Army Officer, she is an Indian princess). When Ash has to escort Anjuli to her wedding in another state thousands of miles away, their turmoil is almost unbearable to read.

Favourite scene: Ash and Anjuli in the cave during the sandstorm. Exquisitely written and never have two characters deserved their moment of physical and emotional release more.

 

Elizabeth writes “wickedly captivating” Regency romances. See our interview with her here. 

 

Nancy Klein:

What are my three favorite love stories? Now, that’s a tough one—I have any number of romantic novels that I will revisit over and over. Putting aside North and South, which is a given, my three favorite love stories, in no particular order, are Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Marion Meade’s Stealing Heaven, and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander.

I prefer my love stories to have a large element of angst—I believe it adds suspense to the story, depth to the characters, and longing to my soul as I read. Persuasion is such a perfect story of a couple who loved, lost, and came together again; Captain Wentworth harbors bitter feelings while Anne Elliott deeply regrets turning him away. The way in which Austen brings them together is quite lovely, and the story holds a great deal of foolishness and fun which I expect from Austen.

Stealing Heaven is a novel I stumbled upon in college when I saw a production (don’t even remember the name) of two actors reading the love letters of Heloise and Peter Abelard. The acting was dreadful, but the words stuck with me. I tracked down their tragic story and stumbled on this novel which portrays their lives and love perfectly. For those who know the story, the novel is a must-read. For those who don’t, the novel is a must-read.

stealing heaven

Finally, I find myself revisiting Outlander over and over again (both in novel form and in the excellent STARZ series, which returns in April—hooray!). This time travel gem catapults a nurse from post-WWII Scotland via a circle of standing stones back to 1700’s Scotland—and into the arms of one of the best modern romantic characters ever written, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser. Their story has been told to date across a series of novels, but the first one remains my favorite.

Nancy’s romantic fan fiction stories of both Guy and Thornton are legendary. We reviewed her published N&S story here. 

 

Hazel Osmond:

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to discuss a few of my favourite love stories …

It’s funny, when I started thinking about those love stories that have really ‘got’ to me, I realised that most of them don’t follow the trajectory of ‘boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins her back again.’

They are more ‘boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl forever’ or ‘loses her and might get her back, we’ll never know’.

I’m not sure what that says about me. Maybe I like the yearning, will they/won’t they element of these type of love stories? Maybe I find it satisfying that the doomed love affair will forever remain intense and unsullied – the couple will always remain true to each other and they will never have to navigate their way through the practicalities and niggles that creep into a life-long relationship? I mean, much as I love Pride & Prejudice, don’t you just wonder how well that love story continues? I can’t help suspecting that Darcy’s brooding intensity might hack Lizzie off three years down the line on a wet Sunday evening when they’ve been arguing about her family yet again.

No, the love stories that I come back to are not the happy ever after variety. One Day, Anna Karenina, a lot of Thomas Hardy’s books, Me Before You, The Fault in Our Stars… you’re probably getting the picture.

And if you can throw in one or both of the couple sacrificing their prospect of happiness for a noble cause, well, I’m hooked.

Here are two of my favourite love stories in novels – they don’t end happily but to me they are satisfying in a bittersweet way – the characters are battered or even defeated by what fate throws at them, but they continue to love each other. Timeless, all- transcending love, who can resist it?

‘His Dark Materials’ Trilogy by Philip Pullman

I remember reading these to my daughters when they were still quite young. As I reached the last few pages of the final part of this trilogy where Will and Lyra decide that for the greater good they have to part and return to their separate worlds, I started to cry – the tears streaming down my face variety. I remember my daughters looking at me as if were mad. What was all the fuss about?

Fast forward a few years and my eldest daughter revisited the books and appeared in the kitchen red eyed and sniffing. She was old enough to understand the emotional kick the book delivers. I still cannot think of the gentle, noble Will and the fearless Lyra’s pact to sit on the same seat, albeit in different worlds, every Midsummer’s Day and remember how much they love each other, without dissolving into a pile of mush.

Atonement by Ian McEwan

Atonement

Oh my. The exquisite cruelty that McEwan inflicts on the reader in this one. Robbie is bright, funny, honest but wrenched away from the love of his life, Cecilia, for a crime he did not commit. She waits for him and they are reunited after much adversity. Except they aren’t … we find out the happy ending has been created by Cecilia’s sister the novelist, to atone for the fact that she played a huge part in the misunderstanding that ruined their real lives. The news that Robbie died at Dunkirk and Celia in a bomb attack on London, having only met once since he was taken away to prison, is devastating.

When I read the book the first time, I remember the shock of realising that there wasn’t going to be a happy ending. I felt cheated of it, but now I think the lack of one actually makes Robbie and Cecilia’s story much more poignant. In a story that goes from a dream to a nightmare, they endure as honourable and true.

Sigh …

Hazel has written several contemporary love stories. Her ‘Who’s Afraid of Mr. Wolfe’ was shortlisted for Romantic Comedy of the Year 2012 by the Romantic Novelists’ Association. She’s also written a Guy of Gisborne fanfic that gets raves. Find out more about her and her works in our interview here.

 

Charlotte Hawkins:

The Armitage Author Network contacted Charlotte via Twitter and she gave the following short summary.

AAN: Tell us your two favorite romance books and why.

CH: My two favorites are Caught in the Act by Betina Krahn and Outlander, book one.

Caught in the Act is set in Elizabethan England. It’s about a rogue entering into an arranged marriage in order to pay off his debts. His bride is a naive but very intelligent beauty who tries to get rid of her intended groom. Of course, they fall in love. But …

The story is anything but typical. It’s clever, witty, and romantic. And very sexy.

Caught in the act

As for Outlander, I love it because of the characters. Jamie and Claire are fantastic. The story is wonderful too, and it’s sexy as hell.

AAN: But you are also a big Jane Eyre fan as well, aren’t you?

CH: I wasn’t sure if Jane Eyre would be considered a romance novel, since it’s a classic piece of literature. But yes!

AAN: And you love Jane because….

CH: I am Jane. I feel her experiences and words are mine. Although I’m still waiting to find my Mr. Rochester!

AAN: Thanks for your answers.

CH: Thanks for having me!

 

Charlotte is well known for her very romantic Guy of Gisborne series of books. For more about Charlotte and her work, see our recent interview with her here. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Very Merry Christmas – with Armitage Characters!

red sweater

The Armitage Author Network wishes you a peaceful and happy holiday season. And to help you settle into a chair and relax a little, we’ve collected a smattering of seasonal stories based on Armitage characters from Thorin to Harry Kennedy.

Above all, don’t miss Nat’s brilliant and now classic Armitage-ized rendition of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!  (Link at the bottom)

John Thornton

A Milton Christmas by Angelfish69 (c19) — A short piece about the Thorntons’ first Christmas as newlyweds.

Seasons: Winter by ch215 (C19) — A short, poetic piece that envisions John and Margaret as happily married in   the winter time.

The Christmas Gift by Lillianschild — Another sweet vision of John and Margaret’s first Christmas.

New Year’s Resolution by Chocolateismydrug — A 13-chapter modern story of John Thornton and Margaret Hale’s rather difficult relationship

Harry Kennedy

When Father Christmas Met Geraldine  by Fedoralady60

A Christmas Gift  by Khandy

Lucas North

The Christmas Eve Shift  by KathrynRuthD

Thorin

The Foe that is Mistletoe  by Heyerette (AO3)

Thorin Discovers Xmas  by Jaydee09 (C19)

For Laughs

Bilbo’s Christmas List  by Pattygee (C19)

How the Giz Stole Christmas by Nat