Old Skool. That's where I've spent the last few weeks. Living the dream. What dream? or more to the point which dream, I hear you cry. The stay up late, read til your eyes turn red and you want to call in sick but don't because you no longer work retail. Yes, I've been rereading Julie Garwood. And not contemporary Julie Garwood. Or even Western Julie Garwood or crazy -ass Regency Pirate Julie Garwood. No. I'm talking Medieval Scottish and Norman England. Oh, yeah. Old Skool. (did you notice the misspelling to make it more emphatically OS?)
I have this memory of Green and Orange. No. Not the NY Mets. I have very few memories of baseball. (they are baseball, right?) No, it was my parents' orange couch and a green book - The Secret. I was working at Crown Books at the time, and it had arrived in the shipment. Brand new. Day one. Or near abouts because this was the Olden Days when only novelists Danielle Steele, Tom Clancy and Scott Turow arrived on the store floor on its proper release date. So, back to The Secret and my parents' couch.
I stayed up all night reading that book. All night. As in, bed at about 5 in the morning. Jet lag for the next day. I loved it. Medieval Scotland, complete with daily bathing, Highland Games, and sweet cottages for the clan to live in. (Unless you were a warrior who preferred sleeping under the stars.) There were plaids, rushes on the floor, men tall as pine trees, a heroine in danger, and food eaten from trenchers. Oh, yeah. Julie Garwood's Medieval Scotland. So glossy it should be sponsored by Maybelline. And I loved it. I loved Iain, with his way over the top alpha-ness, his broad shoulders, his bluster, his over protectiveness, the way he wore his plaid so masculinely, and the way he fell for the heroine.
And so, I wanted to revisit that feeling and see if I could still ignore the head-hopping, the historical not even inaccuracies but complete glossy blunders, a heroine so beautiful and naive as to not be believable, and a situation too farfetched to be even possible. I read The Secret when it was first published in 1992; it is twenty-three years later. I could have given birth and had a grandbaby in this time. My go-to reads now include Barbara Samuel O'Neal, Ruthie Knox, Simone St. Claire, Jennifer Crusie and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I hesitated before picking up Ransom, the sequel to The Secret, which actually is my favorite of her Scottish Medievals, because in honesty, I didn't want to lose the love.
The feelings that Julie Garwood gave me, the clutch in my belly, the sighs, ohmygod, this feeling is why I want to write. This is what I want to create. And I was so afraid that if I reread her novels, all I would see is the problems, and I'd no longer read the story. But I needed the familiar. I wanted to feel it, experience it, be swept away by it. I wanted to once again read about Jamie in The Bride and Madelyne in Honor's Splendour warming Duncan's feet. To feel Brodick's possessive desire for Gillian in Ransom. So, down to the basement I went and pulled all of these books from the back of the keeper shelves, and set about reading them, plus several others.
And, yes, there are problems. But ohmygod, Julie Garwood still pulls me straight into those Medievals, and delivers on everything. Hot, possessive hero. Humor. Emotional rewards. It is all there. Still. I am brought back to that Orange and Green feeling of rightness. Of the power of being literally swept away for hours on end into a completely unreal, Brigadoon-ish Scotland - or the Highlands, to be more JG-accurate. And all has been good with my September.
What Old Skool books have you been reading - or meaning to read recently? Who made you want to write in the positive way? In the I-want-to-cause-that-in-my-reader way?