Today I have Liv Rancourt, the audaciously talented paranormal romance author, as my guest. She’s here to talk about romance, and in particular why she writes fiction woven with romantic themes. Personally, I can’t think of a better topic to compliment the holiday season. Because everything is more magical when love is in the air.
Take it away Liv…
So, why romance? Yesterday I had a couple hours of downtime and spent it in the company of Aidan, Krys, Mirren, Lucy & their friends while reading the novel Redemption by Susannah Sandlin. Okay, there were vampires involved, but the love story rocked and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
That just about sums it up. Write a love story that’s grounded in reality (or some paranormal version thereof), involving well-drawn characters and genuine conflict, and you will have me eating out of the palm of your hand…though that’s probably not an image we want to dwell on. Instead, know that I read to have fun, and good romances are almost always fun.
If I want real-world conflict (read: sadness & pain), I’ll go to work. Sometimes I don’t even have to go that far; conflict comes to me, invading my personal space. That’s how life is. When I read, I want the assurance that the characters are going to end up happy, which is one of the hallmarks of the romance novel.
And then there’s the whole falling-in-love thing. Like most people of the human persuasion, I love to fall in love. However, after seventeen years of marriage, pretty much the only falling I get to do these days is in the pages of a book. My husband is an awesome guy, but our infatuation days were a LOOOONNGGG time ago. With a romance novel, I can experience a little vicarious infatuation stretched out over two or three days, and almost always get dinner to the table on time.
It gets even better when I write my own. I have a whole thumb-drive full of crushes. My ideal romantic heroes are often tough guys with hard fists and soft hearts. Well, except for Joe, from my short story The Santa Drag. He’s an actor, and the heroine Mackenzie describes him as the Robert Downey Jr. type: good-looking, charming and just a little bit naughty. He’s turned up in a couple of my short stories now, flashing his “yep, I’m handsome” grin and driving Mack crazy.
In the end, I bet even you YA types are picking up what I’m laying down here. I mean, where would Twilight be without the romance, right? My own personal young adult period may have faded into the mists of time, but I remember being pretty focused on issues of the heart. Even…a bit obsessed at times. It makes sense that romance should play a part in stories aimed at the YA crowd.
And it’s fun, which is as good a reason as any I can think of. So to keep the fun going, check out the following excerpt from The Santa Drag…
Things aren’t always what they seem, and this shopping mall Santa has secrets only her true love can reveal.
Sneak Peak of… “The Santa Drag”
On a particularly busy Saturday, I was tired and thinking more about a double shot of espresso than I was about the pile of kids who wanted to sit in my lap. The weak winter sun was making its circle over the atrium where the Christmas Village was set up, and my roommate Shauna was buzzing by every so often to giggle at me from the sidelines. She was trying to get all of her Christmas shopping done in one day, which was a good trick for someone with as many fertile brothers and sisters as she had.
“Come sit on Santa’s lap.” Maya, the photographer and kid-wrangler, invited the next kid in line approach my golden throne. Well, it was fake gold, but the kids didn’t know that.
“No,” said a little girl with a stubborn crease between her brows. She was dressed in Seattle’s version of Christmas formal, a stiff, red velvet dress, likely made from organic fabric dyed with beets and rose hips. On her feet were two-toned leather MaryJanes that probably cost sixty-five dollars. At least the green corkscrew ribbons tied around her blond pigtails looked like they belonged on a child. I made myself as approachable as possible, getting down to her level and producing a big smile.
“Come on, Thula,” her mother said, tapping one French manicured nail on her cell phone. “Go sit up there with Santa so we can take your picture.” She sounded as if this was just one more thing to knock off the list.
“It’s okay, sweetie.” Maya put on her encouraging smile. Maya was a tiny thing, barely bigger than most of the kids we saw, with long dark hair, a tiny gold hoop pierced through one nostril, and bugged-out eyes that looked like they’d been molded out of chocolate. She was non-threatening as an adult could possibly be. The kid stared at her and bit down on her bottom lip. At least she wasn’t crying. Yet.
“You want to come tell Santa what to bring you for Christmas?” I kept my voice pitched down somewhere under my sternum. It helped that I had one of those raspy lady voices that earned me a permanent spot in the tenor section whenever I sang in choir.
Sometimes less is more when you’re dealing with preschoolers. We went back and forth for several minutes until the kid went from biting her bottom lip to letting it pooch out and tremble. Never a good sign. Finally, after a ton of coaxing, she was more-or-less close to me, squatting down on the other side of one of the big pretend presents that ringed my throne. That was good enough for her mom, and Maya snapped a picture.
When she was done, the little girl glared at me from behind the big, glossy red ribbon that topped the present. “Bring me a baby brother,” she bellowed and took off running..
Mom’s glare was meaner than the kid’s had been. Hey, it’s not like I made any promises.
The kid ran full tilt past the pseudo-Tyrolean houses that made the Village, and out through the crowds of shoppers. She stopped in the middle of an open space and cut loose, her sobs echoing around the smoky glass dome that covered us. We could hear her carrying on until she and her mom got swallowed up by the Ross store at the end of the north hallway. The whole place fell into a bit of a hush when she was gone, as everyone exhaled in relief. This close to Christmas, none of us needed a crying child to ratchet up the stress level.
A young mother was next in line. She came into the Christmas Village and positioned a slightly damp baby on my lap, moving as if something hurt. The baby was so young that Mom still looked a little pregnant under her loose denim-blue shirt. Or maybe she was already pregnant with number two. I’m not so good with the principles of baby production. Well, I understand the basic concepts, but haven’t had that many opportunities to put them into practice.
The brief quiet was interrupted by a yodeling squeal that I recognized. I stared into the crowd until I caught Maya looking at me funny. I stuck on a smile as close to my normal, jolly-Santa shtick as I could get, and she settled back down behind her camera. The reason for my roommate Shauna’s squeal had me completely rattled. In the two or three beats I’d looked out from behind my wire-rimmed glasses as Mack-the-girl, I’d seen Shauna giving someone a big hug. A really handsome someone. Joe McBride. Joseph Timothy McBride. The actor. The real-life, got a soap opera gig and several commercials and you saw him in Scream 2 actor. The only guy I ever really loved.
Ooh, now she’s got a problem! Will Mack turn all Creepy-Kringle? Will Joe recognize her? What’s a Santa to do? 😉
Liv Rancourt writes paranormal and romance, often at the same time. She lives with her husband, two teenagers, two cats and one wayward puppy. She likes to create stories that have happy endings, and finds it is a good way to balance her other job in the neonatal intensive care unit. Liv can be found on-line at her website & blog (www.livrancourt.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/liv.rancourt), or on Twitter (www.twitter.com/LivRancourt).