Tag Archives: home

Country of the Mind

Thea Devine today. On this past Monday morning, around 11am, we drove into town for the annual Memorial Day parade. Perfect day: bright sun, blue sky, warm weather, fresh breeze — and people. Town was jam-packed with people all along Main Street, two, three, five deep, and there wasn’t a place to park anywhere near. We finally got a spot in a little field about a quarter mile from Main Street and joined a crowd hiking toward to the main event.

It hadn’t started yet, but the staggering number of people lining the street was an event in itself. Kids, parents, teens, tweens, boyfriends, girlfriends, dogs, grandparents, town officials all merging and mingling, looking for friends, space, refreshments, for the parade to begin.

This, I thought, was the essence of why hearth and home books resonate so vibrantly in romance. This is the country of the mind; it is a Norman Rockwell painting come to life, a place that exists in the imagination, in the heart, and sometimes in life.

A place, perhaps, one has been seeking without even knowing it. The place you know is home in a deep visceral way, even if you don’t want to admit it.

In fiction, it takes a good three hundred pages for the heroine to come to terms and admit it. The reader is already there, because those tropes tap into our deepest desire for community and acceptance in a place where everybody knows who you are. Your family, as it were.

Standing on the sidelines and watching the parade — the bands, the old timey cars, the re-enactors, the antique fire trucks, the members of the Service clubs, the staff of the Library, everyone who marched — I turned to John and whispered, I love this place.

I do … love this place. I feel like the heroine who has finally found her home. I’ve had deep yearnings to gather my cousins here, in my place, so we can be as close as our families were when I was growing up in Brooklyn and Sunday was mandatory visit grandma day.

But a visit or an email isn’t quite the same as noisy family dinner on a Saturday night. Like any beleaguered heroine, I never thought I’d miss that after all these years, or wish I could recreate those times. I’m sad my sons will never experience them too.

After the parade was over, everyone poured into the street which had turned into a traffic-free plaza — either to meet friends, or see who was there, or to wend their way to where they’d parked, stopping to chat with neighbors, friends, parade participants, along the way.

I took lots of pictures, grateful this wasn’t the small town of my imagination, or a small fictional town in a future novel I might write. It was my town, here and now, my place, my home.

Did you go to your Memorial Day Parade? Do you feel like you’ve found your place, your home? Is it what or where you thought it would be?

PS re: RT. I’m pleased to say I was one of the thirty- year “pioneer” authors honored by RT at this year’s convention in Kansas City. It was a well attended convention, I heard estimates of as many as 1500-2000 attendees, and there was a spectacular number of workshops to suit every taste, every genre and every level of experience, plus receptions, parties, meet and greets and a special fan event.

The big booksigning was HUGE and swarming with avid readers. The hotel was lovely with lots of places to sit and chat. The 30th Anniversary Gala was fun; we were all asked to say a few words to the attendees after Kathryn Falk spoke about the thirty years that Romantic Times had been a force in the industry.. You might have heard EL James was there — she was, but I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting her. I had a wonderful time.

Home is Where …?

Happy belated new year, Scribers. Thea Devine today. We had an interesting holiday ourselves. After spending Xmas with our grandson and his parents, we went to visit family in Arizona. Our first trip. A wonderful visit to a place my husband’s family members had wanted to live for years, had dreamt of living there for years.

Which led me to wonder about home, and what makes you feel that this is home: the desert, the painted sky, the dusky colors, the unlimited horizon — as opposed to the unlimited horizon of the ocean, the rocky shore, trees that touch the sky, winter that cradles you in snow and the warmth of the fire. A big Victorian, or a roomy ranch. In the woods back of beyond or in a cluster of houses in a development. A brownstone in the city or colonial in the suburbs. A cabin in the woods or a condo on the edge of a bay.

Do you live now where you grew up or thousands of miles away?
I was amazed, when I attended my fiftieth high school reunion, at where many of my classmates wound up. A fair of them stayed in New Jersey. But others lived as far away as Hawaii, California, Tennessee. What said home to them in those disparate places, I wonder.

Place is so important, especially I think to writers. We once bought a house that after a couple of months, I told my husband I wanted to go back to where we moved from. He did not ask for a divorce.

Of all the houses and places we’ve lived, I love living here in CT the best. I love the town, I love how much there is to do, how many opportunities to volunteer. I love our house which is a typical 1970’s ranch. It’s sited beautifully on a rise so when you look out the door, you feel like you’re living in the trees. The sun is at the back of the house, south. I never feel comfortable when it’s at the front of the house. We keep the front door open most times so it’s like another window to view the landscape. I love winter days when we light the fireplace, play music, low, and curl up with a book. I love watching birds hanging onto icicles pecking away at the feeder. I love warm days when my husband and I just sit on the deck and talk.

So when you create your heroine — where is her home? Is it where you live? Where you wished you lived? Someplace you have lived? An imaginary small town where everybody’s known you since the day you were born?

Is it where you’re comfortable or where your heroine has to find comfort? Does she resist or embrace her home? Do you? Have you lived places that just didn’t Feel Right?

What makes a house feel right to you, the sun pouring in from the south or sunrise to the east. The layout? The fireplace? The kitchen. The property? The look of the house? Being near water? Do you like the snow or the heat? The changing seasons or a constant landscape?

What says home to you? Do you wish you could live someplace else or do you love where you are? Have you put your heroine in places you’ve never been? Or do you keep her close to home? Do you think writers are super sensitive place — or is it just me?

Thea Devine’s books defined erotic romance. She’s written 25 historical and contemporary erotic romances and a dozen novellas. Beyond the Night, the sequel to The Darkest Heart, will be released September 2013 from Pocket Star. She’s currently at work on her next erotic romance. Her 2008 novel, His Little Black Book, was reissued in October.