Hi, everyone! It’s such a treat to be here on Long and Short Reviews. Judy told me I could talk about pretty much anything I want to, which is very dangerous – I’m not only a writer, I work as a lawyer in the day job! Turning me loose and letting me talk can lead to unexpected results – I love to express my opinions, and believe me, I have no shortage of ‘em! Today I’m basking in the afterglow of a whirlwind visit to Orlando, and I’d like to share some of my thoughts about it with you.
One of the perks of living in Florida, even here at the very doorstep to Alabama where I am, is that I get to go to the theme parks fairly regularly. I regard it as a perk, anyway. My husband, The Lord of the Far Junior College, sees it more as a punishment. But anyway, in my day job, I get invited to at least a dozen conferences in Orlando every year. It’s right in the middle of the state, it’s easy to drive/fly in and out, and there are plenty of hotel rooms, so it’s not terribly expensive, at least in the off season. In fact, two of the state professional organizations I’m in have just submitted to the inevitable and hold all their meetings there.
So last week, I went to the State Bar Conference at Disney World. (That would be bar as in law, not liquor, more’s the pity.) I had to sit for several hours discussing student first amendment rights, special education appeal procedures, and worker’s comp rulings, but after that, I was free to take my babies to – if not the happiest place on earth, surely the most magical: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. And while I was there, I had an epiphany about exactly why I love being an author.
Now, I realize that it is the height of presumption and self-aggrandizement to even mention my writing in the same context as the Divine Rowling’s. She is the best selling author of our time, and even richer than the dear Queen. I am a soon-to-be-epubbed Romance and Chick Lit author. I know I am not worthy to clean J.K. Rowling’s Jimmy Choos. But . . . I am gonna jump in here and be presumptuous anyway. For one thing, pushy and overbearing are my middle names. And also since I signed a contract to publish my first book, I have a different understanding of exactly what Ms. Rowling accomplished.
About two years ago, I made up two people, The Duke and Duchess of Danesleigh, and all their accompanying friends and family. I made them become real, at least in my mind. And there are a few people so far who have read my book and enjoyed living in the Danesleigh’s world for a few hours. I hope that, come November and publication of PROOF OF LOVE, more people will get to know my characters, and at least for a little while, like being with them. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to know that Susan and Edward are alive in my reader’s imaginations after being in mine for so long.
But can you imagine what it must be like to be J.K. Rowling? The woman sat in a coffee shop for hours upon hours, nursing a single cup a day because that was all she could afford, and she wrote her characters down. She slaved over them, became obsessed by them, and put her life on hold for them. They were alive for her, and like all of us who write, she hoped that maybe, one day, they would come to life for someone else.
And now, everyday, thousands of people not only read her books, they care so deeply about these people she made up that they travel across continents to come to Orlando, and for a few wonderful hours, they can live in Harry Potter’s world. They can stroll the streets of Hogsmeade, they can lift a butterbeer in the Three Broomsticks, and they can fly on broomsticks above the Forbidden Forest. It reminds me of the moral of one of my favorite children’s books, The Velveteen Rabbit. Ms. Rowling’s fans loved Harry so much, they made him real.
Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is incredible power. An author can take something that exists only in her mind, and make it matter so much to people that they force it to become real. Wow. As I said, I am not worthy of comparing myself in any way to La Rowling. But, in my own tiny little way, I create worlds. It’s the best job there is.
DISCUSSION QUESTION: Is there a story you love so much that you want it made into a theme park? For example, my idea of a little slice of heaven would be Jane Austen Land, where I could dance the quadrille with Mr. Darcy and practice archery with Emma. What about you? One lucky commenter will win a $10.00 Champagne Books Gift Certificate, so tell me what you think!
Arabella Stokes was born in a small cottage in Surrey, and was raised by her loving parents, along with her seven brothers. After attending the Ecole du Bois in Switzerland, she moved to London, where she resides in a lavish flat overlooking the Thames, with her husband the heir to. . .
Oh, who am I kidding? I was born in Tallahassee, Florida – no rose covered cottage, but definitely the loving parents and just one brother. I attended Florida State University (let’s go, Seminoles!) for undergraduate and law school, and I have practiced law in NW Florida ever since. But I do have my own personal Mr. Darcy, and two vivacious daughters. We live in Pensacola, Florida, home of the most beautiful beaches on earth!
Because the practice of law requires great amounts of concentration and because the areas I concentrate on (Family & Children and Criminal Law) are particularly distressing, I come home every night and lose myself in a bright, sparkling romance where everything comes right in the end. After reading hundreds, nay, thousands of romances, I said “I can do that!” and wrote my first novel, Proof of Love, an 80,000 word Georgian-era historical, which will be released on November 7, 2011 by Champagne Books. It tells the story of a scientifically-minded nobleman who doesn’t believe in anything he can’t prove through logic and research, and the lady who teaches him that love is the greatest experiment of them all.
I’m a member of the Gulf Coast, Beau Monde, and Chick Lit Chapters of the Romance Writers of America, I am working on several other projects in various stages of development. I love twitter, so check me out @romancemama!