We are so excited to be the final stop on The Winner’s Curse blog tour today. As many already know, Kat and I were lucky enough to read it early last year and were completely blown away. It still remains one of our stand out reads of 2013. If there is one book that you have to get this year, let it be this one.
We asked Marie to talk a little about writing romance and since she’s naturally awesome beyond reason, she went above and beyond. Check out her guest post on her first experiences reading romance–complete with bodice rippers–and the advice she gave herself while writing The Winner’s Curse.
I’ll tell you a secret.
Sometime between when I was in junior high and high school, I noticed that my mom would swap romance novels with both of my grandmothers. One grandmother enjoyed Harlequin romances:
My other grandmother tended to deliver black garbage bags full of fat historical romance novels with lots of “love scenes.”
(How do those flowers stay in her hair? HOW??)
Now, even though a good portion of my Scholastic book fair money was spent, even when I was in grade school, on the ultimate romance novels for tweens (the Sunfire books, with a love triangle in each—except in Caroline. I think she had three guys after her), I had at a pretty early age decided I was Someone Who Loved Books, and this had led to all sorts of assumptions and beliefs, like the time I was twelve and stared at a collection of Shakespeare’s plays in my classroom and thought, “I don’t know who Shakespeare is. But I know that Someone Who Loves Books loves Shakespeare. Therefore: I must read and love Shakespeare. RIGHT NOW”).
Another (foolish!) assumption I had was that Serious People Who Love Books do not respect romances. So Teenage Me used to nag my mom:
“God, Mom, why do you read that crap?”
“I like it,” she said.
“But you could be reading literature. You could be reading Shakespeare.”
Now, none of what I’ve told you is my secret. Just a portrait of me being insufferable. Here comes the secret, which you might have already guessed:
Although I scolded my mom about those sexy romances my grandmothers brought over, I had in fact been TAKING THEM and READING THEM and HIDING THEM under my bed THE ENTIRE TIME.
Oh, the little hypocrite! The closed-mindedness of it all—to not notice that discussing romance novels were a way for my mom and grandmas to build their friendships. To not face and understand my own attraction to these books. To not appreciate that I was getting a very interesting education.
Well, I was young.
(And maybe I did appreciate that education, after all).
I stopped squirreling away romance novels under my bed—I can’t remember why—and eventually, more than a decade later, became a professor of English literature. But somewhere along the way—when I was crying at the end of Villette, or dying at the choices of Henry James’s Isabel Archer, or holding my breath as I read Jane Eyre—I admitted to myself that I loved to read about love. And why wouldn’t I? Isn’t love the best thing there is? What are the battered books on my shelves? The most worn? Jellicoe Road. Pride and Prejudice. Sunshine. Graceling. The Queen of Attolia. The Hema and Kaushik section of Unaccustomed Earth.
I can’t claim to be an expert on writing romance, but I have been asked to share some thoughts about it, so I’ll give the advice that I urged myself to remember as I wrote The Winner’s Curse.
1. Be precise.
Now, yes, I know that Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels has some spectacularly sexytimes, but the most delicious moment in the whole book, for me, is when the hero turns up at the ball and seizes the heroine’s fan. She has been writing a name down on each stick, using it as a way to keep track of the dances she’s promised to different men. What does the hero do? He holds up the fan for the entire ballroom to see and snaps each stick of the fan, one by one. That is precise: the sound of each snapped stick.
This is precise, for me:
“I should go,” Arin said, though he didn’t move.
Kestrel looked at his face glowing in the lamplight. She became aware that she was close enough to him that her bare foot rested on the damp edge of carpet where Arin stood, seeping rainwater. A shiver traveled up her skin.
Just a bare foot on a wet carpet. That’s it. That’s all I needed right then.
2. Be imprecise.
Do we really, truly need to know how people kiss or where they put their hands, etc.? Ok, maybe sometimes, but I try my best to make the language sensual, to show the passion of the characters embedded in my writing style, as if the thrum of that energy is taking over the book and me. What I try to do, ultimately, in the most intense romantic moments in my books, is to offer a dance of the precise and imprecise, and to make the writing style stand in for the physicality of what the characters are doing:
Kestrel’s mouth found his. His lips were salted with her tears, and the taste of that, of him, of their deepening kiss, filled her with the feeling of his quiet laugh moments ago. Of a wild softness, a soft wildness. In his hands, running up her thin dress. In his heat, burning through to her skin…and into her, sinking into him.
Although both of my grandmothers are gone, I’m glad to say that my mom and I talk about romances all the time now, and it’s really nice to share such books with her, and to recommend my favorites (Sarah MacLean, Eloisa James, Lisa Kleypas) and hear about hers (she loves Nora Roberts).
On a farewell note:
I had lots of fun looking for romance covers for this post, and have to share this one:
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love
As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.
One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.
But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.
Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.
Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the Tour!
My Friends Are Fiction
Monday, February 10
The Midnight Garden
Tuesday, February 11
Wednesday, February 12
Thursday, February 13
Friday, February 14
The Book Rat
Saturday, February 15
Good Choice Reading
Sunday, February 16
Jenna Does Books
Monday, February 17
Love is Not a Triangle
Tuesday, February 18
Wednesday, February 19
Thursday, February 20
This giveaway likely doesn’t come with a curse, but it does come with lots of goodies! Thanks to the publisher and Marie for providing:
–The Winner’s Curse
- To enter, please fill out the Raffelcopter form below.
- We ask that all entrants be at least 13 years or older to enter.
- The giveaway is open for US and Canada ONLY.
- When the winners are chosen, it will be announced here and the winners will be emailed.
- Please enter your email address in the Rafflecopter form and not the comments.
- Also, please understand that giveaway sponsors reserve the right to disqualify any entries they find gaming the system. Cheaters never prosper.