MamaWriters are thrilled to welcome special guest Tessa Dare, who’s burst onto the historical romance map this summer and fall with her back-to-back Regency releases, Goddess of the Hunt (Starred in Publisher Weekly and Library Journal), Surrender of a Sire, and A Lady of Persuasion (all three Romantic Times Top Picks).
She’s with us today, chatting about the birth of her Muse, and its strange, certainly-unrelated, entirely-coincidental arrival at a time when she was pregnant.
Odd, for creativity to work in tandem like that. Hmmm . . .
Please help us welcome Tessa, and chat about Muses, writing, romance, or anything else that floats your romance-loving boat.
The Birth of a Muse
I like to say that my romance writing career is the same age as my three-year-old son. After all, I started writing my debut historical romance, Goddess of the Hunt, when he was just a few months old. I had the rocking chair pulled up to the computer desk, and I would nurse and rock him with one arm while I typed with the other.
In many ways, I think romance novels are all about recapturing that high of an infatuation in its earliest stages. The giddiness, the awareness, the fascination with every little detail of another person. Who better to help me recapture that feeling than a precious little newborn? I could (and did) spend hours marveling over every little wonder of his tiny fingers and dimpled ear and mile-long eyelashes, feeling so very full of love I could burst. He was my muse.
But it actually started before that, during my pregnancy. He was just an embryo (a zygote, perhaps!) when the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice rekindled my interest in all things Austen, and I began writing Austen-based fanfiction online. It must have been the hormones, but for those nine months, I just couldn’t get enough of Regency-set courtship and romance. That pregnancy really uncorked my creativity, and I was able to complete my first work of book-length fiction. Granted, it was fanfiction—but seeing a story through to the end was something I’d never managed to accomplish before. I continued reading historical romance through the rest of my pregnancy. In fact, I was reading Amanda Quick while in labor! And it came as a surprise to no one when I gave him the middle name “Austen.”
Right after my son was born, I was obviously up at all hours of the night, rocking and feeding him. And that’s when I lucked upon the 2006 Avon FanLit romance-writing event. It was an Internet writing competition that spawned an entire online community.
During the six weeks of the contest, I had both an outlet for my creativity (I managed to type out my 1500-word entries during naptime, or sometimes while nursing) and a welcome source of social interaction. FanLit is how I met several of my best writing friends and my two wonderful critique partners—Carey Baldwin and Courtney Milan—who, for reasons of their own, were online at odd hours of the night too. Shortly after the competition ended, we began working on our own original novels, and we’ve become very close friends.
Now my son is a happy, bright, growing three-year-old…out of his infancy, just emerging from his terrible twos, but still taking a few spills here and there as he pushes himself to try new things.My writing career is probably at about the same stage!
Now I look to him as a source of inspiration in different ways—he is always eager to learn, fearless in his pursuit of new skills and knowledge, as all children must be.
How has motherhood affected your own writing journey? (If you don’t have kids, pets count!)