I’ve always been a prolific reader. Since I was a small child armed with Dick and Jane books, the phrase Get Your Nose Out of That Book! Has echoed around our house. When I went to highschool, I ramped up the reading – both required books and my new-found love of historical romance. Rosemary Rogers, Shirlee Busbee, Bertrice Small. And then I read the Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss, and reading romance was never the same again.
She was born Kathleen Erin Hogg in Alexandria, Louisiana, the youngest of eight children. Her father passed away when Kathleen was only twelve. Raised by her mother and older sisters, Woodiwiss remarked once that “every single one of us had minds of our own even then; I was no exception. I suppose that carried over into my creations of heroines who weren’t weak-willed.”
Her revolutionary debut novel, The Flame and the Flower, was rejected by agents and hardcover publishers alike for being too long – and at 600 pages, it put the smaller historicals that were popular to date to shame. Woodiwiss then submitted it to Avon, who purchased the novel in paperback. It sold over 2.3 million copies in its first four years. Way to go!
Published in 1972, The Flame and the Flower was a historical romance, with an alpha hero – and real sex scenes. Not just hints and tremors, ocean waves crashing in the distance or murky feelings, but actual sex scenes. The Flame and the Flower is credited with starting a new romance writing phenomenon, following the hero and heroine into the bedroom. Novels following this breakthrough book by Woodiwiss contained longer plots, very intimate sex scenes and a stronger heroine.
Kathleen Woodiwiss gave her heroines spunk. Have you ever read Shanna? Now there’s a girl with a boatload of spunk! Determined to meet her father’s requirement of marrying, she instead married a prisoner meant for hanging – she’d be married as per her father’s request, but have no husband to burden her down while she searched for true love. =) Of course the prisoner didn’t hang, and guess who her true love turned out to be? Absolutely.
Kathleen’s stories absolutely took me away to another time and place. With The Wolf and the Dove the castles, serfs and wars of Normans versus Saxons came alive. With Ashes in the Wind I discovered the horrors of the Civil War. In So Worthy My Love, we met a feisty heroine, an irritable – yet dashing-hero and got a fine taste of Kathleen’s sense of humor, when two bungling would-be kidnappers take the wrong woman. Kathleen’s mastery at story-telling kept me, and many others I’m sure! Up until the wee hours of the morning, trying to read just one more page.
In my own personal collection, I have at least two of every book, as well as approximately seven different copies of Shanna. Just in case. =)
Kathleen passed away, July 6, 2007, with twelve novels to her credit and over 36 million sold.
Next time RU authors, you write a particularly spunky heroine into your latest romance manuscript, give a nod of thanks to Kathleen Woodiwiss.
RU Crew – What book and/or author has made a difference in your writing or reading?
Join us on Wednesday when we chat with agent Sara Megibow about who is a good literary agent?
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for May 14 – 18, 2012
- It’s Only Funny Until Someone Loses an Eye – Darynda Jones
- Writing the Small Town Romance with Katie Lane
- Changing of the Guard II – Introducing What’s New at RU!
- Janet Evanovich Speaks