Because to me a hero or heroine is more striving and heroic if they win through after many trials and adventures with their own skills, wit and effort, not because they happen to be born into a class or position.
Because a hero is more beautiful to me if he is not massively handsome but that feeling, true emotion for the heroine, makes him ‘pretty’. (I also like this theme the other way round – I love the part in Jane Eyre where the heroine goes down to breakfast after accepting Mr Rochester’s proposal and she looks, even to herself, glowing and pretty, ‘truly pretty’ as Mr R tells her.)
Because if the hero or heroine has tons of money or special powers that they can use at the snap of their languid fingers, where is the tension?
Skill impresses me and has a poetry of its own. Watch anyone who is really good at something – a potter with a wheel, a farrier, a shepherd, a dustman dealing with wheelie bins – and there is an elegance, a romance. I love to celebrate skill in the romances I write and I always have my warrior have a gentler skill as well as their fighting. (I don’t admire a fighter who can do nothing but battle, because how can such a person create a life and a relationship if they only destroy?) A warrior as strong protector, yes, a warrior fighting for kudos, OK, but a warrior who is a glory-junkie and no more? No thanks.
We live in a complex world and I like to write romances that reflect this and celebrate whose who heal, who create, who build, who make.
So I write about knights but mainly younger sons, who have to make their own way and who don’t have everything handed to them – I do this in A Knight's Enchantment and A Knight's Captive - and knights who are scarred or grieving and must find another path to live their lives - I do this in To Touch the Knight, A Knight's Vow and The Snow Bride.
I write about foresters and dairy maids (Midsummer Maid), slave girls and scribes (Flavia's Secret), serfs and peasants (To Touch the Knight, The Lord and Eleanor) bull-leapers and kings of small, rural kingdoms where the king helps with the harvest and is also a healer (Bronze Lightning).
In all these, I try to weave the everyday into the stories, those special everyday moments – the first kiss, the ‘I love you’ time, the recognition that this person is ‘the one’, the moment when my hero and heroine meet again, feeling a happy glow, even if they’ve only been apart for a moment.
We all have times when the world shimmers about us and we feel apart from the hurly-burly, when we step into our own magic world with those we care about.
Everyday but special. That’s what I love to write about and read about.