Friday, February 10, 2012

The Origins of "Romance with Dangerous Curves"

Hi everyone. I'm Francesca Hawley and I'm new to Sweet and Sexy Divas. This is my first official post as a diva, so I wanted to tell you all a bit about myself.

When I first started reading romances back in my teens and twenties - a LONG time ago - all heroines were gorgeous and thin. They possessed the requisite slender waist and perky bosom. Now, for you ladies that fit that mold, I'm happy for you but I never looked like that. And I do mean never. Reading those romances often reinforced the feeling I had as a young woman that only thin and pretty girls got the guy. I know that wasn't the message the writers intended, but I was...um...sensitive.

However, the books I read back in the day inspired me to hope I might one day write romances too. In retrospect, I have no points of contention with the authors who wrote (and still write) stories with slender heroines. But back then I wondered, "where is a heroine like me?" Where are the heroines with wide hips, full busts, and legs that aren't long and lean?

As I grew older and my thoughts turned to writing seriously, I didn't immediately decide to "break the mold" with my heroines. I tried to write about slender heroines. Women with waists whom a man's hands could span. Heroines with legs that didn't rub together.

Alas...I had major trouble. Why?

The last time anyone could span my waist with his hands or my legs didn't rub together, I think I was about...three? Five? Probably around five. Yeah, I've been fat all my life. Yo-yo weight for better living through yo-yo dieting. Hence, I was usually fatter rather than thinner. As much as I loved stories with slender heroines and their sexy heroes, I had trouble relating to those heroines. I think we all have a little trouble relating to people and situations with which we aren't familiar.

That translated to paper when I started writing, because when I tried to write thin heroines they didn't feel authentic.Probably because I've never inhabited a small body.One thing writers hear when they are getting started is: "write what you know." Well, I don't know thin. I have thin friends, but I've fought my weight all my life to be thin. I never was thin. At best, I was pleasingly plump.

So what's a writer to do? Write fat. Plus-size. Rubenesque. Whatever you want to call it.

I decided to write heroines like me. Even if no one ever read my stories, at least I'd recognize the women I wrote about. My heroines are big girls. Some have issues with their weight and believe they aren't beautiful, so they work through those issues. Others know they are fine and expect everyone around them to acknowledge it too. It's fun to explore those issues. Especially now.

I think the way society is beginning to look at all kinds of women as beautiful makes it easier for me to write my BBW heroines because publishers recognize that heroines come in all shapes and sizes, too. Many of them accept...even welcome...plus-size heroines.

When I was in my twenties (many years ago), it was unusual to find a big girl as a heroine. And if she started out big, she had to lose weight to get the boy. Now, that's no longer the way it is and I'm really glad about that.

So that's how my tag line, Romance with Dangerous Curves, was born.

It's wonderful that as writers we are given the freedom to make our heroines exactly who they are...fat, thin, or somewhere in between. It's a good thing.

And to celebrate Valentines day, I have a contest running all February long. Comment on my blog posts or anywhere else you see me (like Facebook) and each response will count as an entry for the contest. At stake, a $25 gift certificate to Barnes and Noble and another $25 gift certificate to Ellora's Cave Publishing. And you know me...there will be other sexy goodies thrown in - like print copies of my books and sex toys for the adventurous reader. Wink...


Tina Donahue said...

Hey Francesca - welcome to SNSD - so happy to have you as a member author. :)

I recall those early romances where all the ladies were beeeeyoutiful! In fact, when I read the opening line of Gone with the Wind in highschool - "Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful" - I thought WTH???

I went through two pages before I realized I wasn't paying attention to what I'd been reading. I was still stuck on that Scarlett O'Hara not being beautiful thing. It really threw me.

As a teenager, I wondered if I should give the book my time. Teenagers, as we all know, like perfection. No zits, unsightly bulges, guys with bad breath who act like they're brain dead, etc. etc. You know, real life stuff.

Eventually, I did get into the book and learned that how the heroine looked didn't really matter. It was how she behaved.

After that, I was more taken with a heroine's courage, what was in her heart, her wit.

I think we've finally reached that stage in literature. I can't recall the last time I read about a reed thin heroine who was breathtaking gorgeous. :)

Francesca Hawley said...

Hi Tina,
Glad to join the Diva crew. Thanks for inviting me and stopping by today to comment. :-)

And you're right, beauty is only skin deep. Once the wrinkles arrive (or the babies) the body changes so there better be something UNDERNEATH that's beautiful. I like to think my heroines are like that. Grin.

When I was in my teens though, I preferred to read about the ugly duckling heroines. Of course back then they all turned into swans by the end of the book. It made me grumpy but I went with it because I wanted the heroine to have her HEA.

I'm happy to have the freedom to write imperfect heroines who get their HEAs without the dramatic makeovers that turn them into swans.


Tore said...

Hi Francesca

I think todays' society judges people too much on what they look like and not whats inside of them. I am glad you write about heroine's that are not perfect and not really skinny. Most women are like that and it feels good when you read about women who are not perfect but who are still beautiful in the eyes of the hero. Tore923@aol.com

Francesca Hawley said...

Thanks for visiting the blog today and leaving a comment. I really love it when my heroines are beautiful to the hero, regardless of what anyone else thinks of them. It certainly impacts me in real life when I'm with a man who loves the real me and isn't expecting a perfect body. It makes HIM sexier too. Acceptance is very sexy. ;-)


jean hart stewart said...

Good for you, girl. That was a post that needed to be written.

Fiona McGier said...

Since I have 4 kids and I sub in high schools, I have lots of teenagers on my "real name" FB page. Someone posted a side-by-side poster of Marilyn Monroe in a bathing suit, next to some anorexic young thin in a bikini. The tag line is "Which one is sexy?" All the teenager boys are lusting after MM! My own sons tell me the same thing. I think that real men can't be brain-washed by the fashion industry to think of Q-tips with enhanced boobs as sexy! Hurrah!

Francesca Hawley said...

Jean! Thanks. I'm just glad authors can write about whatever heroines please them (And especially their readers) now!

Fiona - thanks for stopping by. Yes, I totally think Marilyn Monroe is hotter than say...Kate Moss. But I admit to being prejudiced on the topic. If MM were alive today Karl Lagerfeld would be telling her to lose weight instead of Adelle. Yaaaay for the real men and the real women. Grin.

Tim Smith said...

Welcome, Francesca, from one of the male "divas." Loved your post. You're right about the way society views people and how that's changing. I feel the same about men in romance stories - why make them all Brad Pitt lookalikes? If you're writing contemporary romance let's keep it a tad bit real - not all of us are over six feet with washboard abs and thick flowing hair.

Francesca Hawley said...

Tim - great points. Though I'm one of those authors guilty of making my heroes all hunky and ripped. Though they do NOT look like Brad Pitt. For some reason that guy does not ring my chimes. Now Viggo Mortensen, yes. Pitt...NO. Grin

Thanks for the warm welcome!

Stormie Kent said...

Hi Francesca,
I loved your post. It's great to be a new Diva ;) I feel good about romance novels right now. Whatever you can dream up someone will identify with it. Write what you love.

Francesca Hawley said...

Stormie, Thanks for dropping by to say, "Hi!". And you're so right...for each reader their book and each writer their story. Grin!


Christy said...

Hi Francesca, I can so relate. I think we are all condition that thin is what we should be. But I look around in everyday life and don't see these thin people. I love your tag line... dangerous curves. You go girl. I am from TRS party and am having fun. christina_92 at yahoo.com

Lynne said...

As long as your significant other is happy with you and how you look then nothing else matters who wants to be poked with bony knees and elbows, etc.