Bring on those twisted romantic scenarios, Avril Tremayne says. Even on Valentine’s Day!
Today is Valentine’s Day – the most romantic day of the year, tailor-made for weaving wonderful tales of love.
Think of all those women opening romantic cards from their menfolk (or better yet, secret admirers); being whisked off to fancy restaurants to order lobster and champagne; taking delivery of dozens of long-stemmed roses; saying ‘yes’ to proposals of marriage . . .
Yeah . . . no.
That’s a little too much perfection. At least it is if I’m wearing my writer’s hat. I view books where everything and everyone is perfect the same way I view Facebook posts of perfect lives. I want to ‘unfriend’ those people pronto – partly for reasons associated with my need for a little Schadenfreude (hey, I’m not a saint) and partly out of boredom.
Which is why, when I was asked recently what ingredient made the perfect Valentine’s Day romantic story, I said: something going wrong.
For example, what if we twisted those perfectly romantic scenarios so that . . .
- The Valentine’s Day card from the secret admirer came from a vindictive colleague playing a cruel joke on our heroine?
- The dozen red roses delivered to our heroine came with a card from her boyfriend, but addressed to another girl . . . who was at that moment reading the card meant for our heroine?
- The proposal of marriage our heroine was expecting over dinner turned out to be a break-up – and he expected her to pay for her share of the lobster and champagne?
Now we’re talking, right?
It’s when things go wrong that people show their true colours. So I say bring on some emotional baggage, a few past mistakes to come to terms with, people doing stupid things and getting into trouble. And then let’s get them out of trouble, in interesting ways that make them learn something. Make them earn their happy ending.
The stakes are a little higher on Valentine’s Day, so things can go even more shockingly wrong than usual (and how much fun is that!) but to be honest, I torture my characters no matter what day it is.
Here’s a little snippet from my latest book, Wanting Mr Wrong, of things going wrong . . .
Evie – our heroine – has brought her doctor boyfriend to dinner at the family home of Jack – our besotted hero. (And why either of them thought this dinner was a good idea is anyone’s guess.)
‘Are you all right, Evangeline? You look tense.’
‘It’s just . . .’ I waved a hand, encompassing the whole deck. ‘This whole thing. You. Lachlan. Here. It makes me uncomfortable.’
‘You think Lachlan might attack me with a steak knife over dinner in a fit of jealous rage?’
‘He doesn’t know, Jack.’
‘And if he did, and I told him I wanted you? What do you think he’d do?’
What sort of question was that? I just stared at him.
Jack raised that eyebrow. ‘He’d say: all yours, Jack. And he’d desert the field.’
‘The way you did?’ I couldn’t seem to help asking.
He stepped closer to me. His eyes were like razor blades. ‘Not for him, Evangeline. For you. I did it because it was what you wanted.’
‘So I got what I wanted, and you got what you wanted.’
‘Of course you did. You bagged the only woman on the planet who didn’t want you. Well done. Challenge met. So now it’s done. And there’s nothing left. And I just –’ I broke off. My face felt unbelievably hot. ‘No, I can’t discuss this.’
‘You did want me, Evangeline,’ Jack said fiercely.
I wasn’t answering that. Silence stretched taut.
And then, ‘What if I thought the way you did?’ he asked.
‘What do you mean?’
‘What if I believed I was the big challenge? That you wanted the famous Jackson J Stevens as a notch on your bedpost?’
‘I don’t think like that.’
‘But I do?’ He sounded as outraged as I felt.
Things get pretty dramatic after this scene – all because things don’t go as anyone expected. And that’s the whole point.
Happy Valentine’s Day – may yours be perfect! No, really, I mean that.
Evie Parker has never been one to swoon after celebrities – give her a neuroscientist over an actor any day! So when she develops her first movie-star crush, she’s determined to date her way out of it, starting with the next good-looking doctor she sees.
Yet hovering on the fringes of her life is her gay best friend’s determined brother, Jackson J Stevens, a famous actor who comes with trailing paparazzi. The one thing worse than a celebrity in Evie’s eyes is a media circus, so Jack isn’t an option no matter how hard he flirts with her.
Evie knows what she doesn’t want; Jack knows what he does. And somewhere in the middle, pheromones are making things go haywire every time they’re together.
Avril Tremayne took the scenic route to becoming a writer, via shoe-selling, nursing, teaching and corporate public relations. Along the way, she also studied acting, singing, pottery, oil painting, millinery, German and Arabic (among other things). As a committed urbanite, fast-paced contemporary city stories told with sass and humour are her favourites. Married with one daughter, Avril lives in Sydney, Australia. When she’s not writing or reading, she’s thinking about food, wine and shoes.