“Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their…well, Inspirations and Influences. The cool thing is that the writers are given free rein so they can go wild and write about anything they want. It can be about their new book, series or about their career as a whole.
Today’s guest is Smuggler-Favourite Kate Noble, author of some of Ana’s most treasured Romance novels (including Revealed, The Summer of You and Follow My Lead. With a new book – If I Fall – and a new novella – The Dress of the Season – coming out this week, we invited Kate to talk about Inspirations & Influences.
Please give it up for Kate!
Who doesn’t like a little swash in their buckle? I certainly do. I have always been madly in love with adventure stories. Whether it be Joan Wilder swinging across the jungle in Romancing the Stone or Errol Flynn hiding out amongst Robin Hood’s Merry Men, I’ve always enjoyed a bit of an adventure.
If I Fall is an adventure story that doesn’t look like one on the surface. The heroine, Sarah Forrester, is angry and hurt, having recently been dumped by a duke. So she reinvents herself as the queen of society. And her childhood friend, Naval Lieutenant Jackson Fletcher sees her brittle popularity for the lie that it is. Desperate to figure out a way to get her to return to the sweet, happy girl he once knew, Jackson throws whatever is the Regency version of a Hail Mary pass: on a lark, he pretends to be Sarah’s childhood hero, the Blue Raven.
However, the real Blue Raven doesn’t find it very funny. But he does happen to need Jackson to play the role of Blue Raven again, to help him solve a murder.
Thus Jackson and Sarah find themselves falling into a mystery…and falling in love… (cue group awwww…)
The Dread Pirate Roberts
“‘I am not the Dread Pirate Roberts,’ he said. ‘My name is Ryan; I inherited the ship from the previous Dread Pirate Roberts, just as you will inherit it from me. The man I inherited it from is not the real Dread Pirate Roberts either. His name was Cummerbund. The real Roberts has been retired 15 years and living like a king in Patagonia.’”
When Wesley makes this speech to his beloved Buttercup in The Princess Bride, he is giving light to a fact that does not often get stated: Our heroes get old. We may not like to think about it, but those that survive their battles age like the rest of us. They get tired. They want to retire, they want families. But, the world still needs its heroes. Or in the case of The Princes Bride, its pirates.
Wesley took over the role of The Dread Pirate Roberts. Heck, even Dick Grayson took over the mantle of Batman when Bruce Wayne died (note: in true comic book death, Bruce came back. Don’t worry.) The idea of having to replace a hero got into my head and would not get out.
In Revealed, one of my previous books, I introduced the Blue Raven, an anonymous spy made famous by his exploits from the Peninsular War ending up as adventure stories in the Times. Well, I thought, what if he had to come back – but several years later? What if his fame never really died, but his abilities as a man of action had faded with age? What if…he needed a young man to help him out?
I adored Indiana Jones as a kid. I was of the right age where Temple of Doom was a fun, crazy, monkey-brains eating adventure with a dashing man to steal my young heart (as opposed to the movie being a serious let down from the superior plotting and construction ofRaiders of the Lost Ark – that kind of differentiation would come later, when I was in film school. And yes, I went to film school. It was the only major that would let me write off watching TV as homework.) And by the time Last Crusade came out, I was madly in love with not just Indiana Jones, but the version of him that I had created in my mind. The one who was totally interested in my 6th grade life, and would scoff at girls who betrayed their youth by worshipping at the altar of the New Kids on the Block. I, by contrast, was a grown up. He only had eyes for me.
The point is this – we do not only fall in love with heroes. We fall in love with a fiction of them in our youth. And this warm feeling is formative, and continues on into adulthood. I know that if Indiana Jones (the one from Temple of Doom or Raiders, not the paternal version from Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – in fact, its better if that movie is never mentioned again) walked into a bar, grabbed me by the wrist and kissed me silly, I would be helpless to resist. Just as Sarah, my heroine in If I Fall, is helpless to resist when she meets her childhood hero the Blue Raven – or at least, when she thinks she does. From the moment she realizes who it is that has dragged her into a closet, her mind is completely absorbed by him, to the detriment of all others.
The Naval Academy
My last inspirational influence is a lot harder to define, as it is something that has always existed in the background of my life. I grew up in Annapolis, Maryland, the home of the United States Naval Academy. My father was a Naval officer, and we largely came of age on base. My swim lessons? At the Academy. My sister’s gymnastic lessons? At the Academy. We even got a half day off from school when the Blue Angels were in town, so we could go watch their show (also, because they tended to fly right over our elementary school, and there was no multiplication tables being learned with the sound barrier being regularly broken overhead).
One facet of being a navy brat that doesn’t get enough press is the sponsorship program. Unlike non-military colleges, the students don’t have free time. In fact, in their freshman year, they are not allowed off base for several weeks. They don’t have cars, and they are not permitted to wear civilian clothes – even while on leave — until their junior year. Realizing these harsh restrictions, the Academy set up a sponsorship program, where local families who have ties to the Academy (of which, since it’s a navy town, there are many) can sponsor midshipmen, and give them a home away from home when they are finally allowed off base. When I was a little kid, my family took part in this program. We always had a running string of skinny, scared, and incredibly polite young men coming to visit on the weekends. It was very much like having a rotating cast of big brothers. My parents keep in touch with many of them today. I wanted my characters to have this kind of relationship – closer than friends, almost family – that allowed them to be comfortable with each other, that let them know each other so well that they could recognize when someone was lying, even to themselves.
Thus, the Forresters grew up in Portsmouth, near the Royal Naval College. Thus, Jackson Fletcher, when still a midshipman, was invited into the Forrester’s home as, his father was an old friend of Lord Forrester. And thus, a childhood friendship between Jackson and Sarah was born.
And now for the giveaway:
We have ONE copy of If I Fall to giveaway to one lucky commenter. The contest is open to ALL and will run until Saturday April 7 at 11:59 PM (PST). To enter, simply leave a comment here, letting us know the title of your favorite adventure novel of movie. Good luck!