Monday, June 16, 2008

Did you know that I'm a serial killer? - Anne Gracie


It's true. I've killed off at least 10 - 12 people.

"Ten or twelve?" I hear you say. "Don't you even know how many people you've killed?"

I shrug my shoulders carelessly. There are at least a dozen. (And a puppy, but that's another story. It was on the first page of a book, but some people still haven't forgiven me for it , she says with a guilty glance at Anne McAllister.

But I'm not the only serial killer -- most romance writers are serial killers.

So many of us kill off our hero or heroine's parents. Often both. I think romances star the highest proportion of orphans than any other genre.

Certainly most of my heroines are orphans. I do it not for any deep-seated hatred of parents, but because I want my heroines to have nobody to turn to except the hero. I want them standing on their own two feet, battling against the odds, and just when a girl most needs a hero, along comes one of my gorgeous men, and whether she wants help or not, he's there for her.
I love it, and if I have to kill off their parents before the story starts, so be it.

Sometimes I haven't completely orphaned them -- in several of my books my heroines have had fathers, at least for a time. Mostly they're not very good fathers -- they're sometimes cold and unforgiving types, or weak men, remittance men, gamblers, and they've usually left the heroine in a difficult situation.

And this brings me to the point of this blog. People often wonder if I take my characters from life at all, and I've written so many rotten fathers than I've had a few comments from people asking if my father was A Bad Man. LOL.

So this is Dad's birthday and I'm here to set the record straight, as he's not here to defend himself. He died five years ago, and I still miss him heaps.

He was strict but fair, an affectionate and loving father, and he and my mother fell in love at first sight and stayed that way until the day he died. I was the baby of the family by a long way, and my friends were amazed to wander into our kitchen to get a drink or a snack, only to find my parents kissing -- even though by then they were OLD! LOL. Even when they really were old, they still kissed and held hands like teenagers.

I always loved to watch him and my mother dance together. They loved to dance and they moved as one person. One of my last memories was helping Dad to his feet so he could have one last dance with Mum.

Dad was sick for a long time before he died, and the night after he died, I made a book of his life, to be given out at the funeral, putting together a heap of photos from recent ones to when he was a boy. Making that book renewed so many memories and gave me back the dad I'd grown up with, and the dad of my adulthood, as well as the old, sick dad I'd known for the last years. It was a gift to me and my family, as well as a tribute to him and his life.
Not long after that I wrote this piece [] on my website.

So I'd hate you to think the fathers of my heroines had any relation to my actual father. And I'd love to hear about your father: what's a special memory you'll treasure?



Helen said...

What a beautiful post Annie I have loved all of yours books they are totaly enthralling from start to finish.
As for fathers yes mine was terrific I lost him 10 years ago and yes I too miss him heaps he was a true gentleman and had a wonderful sense of humour he played 1st grade cricket and I spent many summers watching him play and meeting some great Australian cricketers. He had four daughters no sons and was such a great sportsman and was never sorry that he didn't get a son. When the grandchildren started to come along he was the best babysitter we had and his 10 grandchildren worshiped him and they all still miss him.
Thanks for the great stories Annie and letting me talk about my Dad.
Have Fun

Alli said...

Hi Anne,
Now I know why today is such a special day for you. What a lovely post.
I lost my dad 7 years ago. It's amazing how often I still think of him even after so long. I don't think any of us will ever stop thinking of our fathers.
Thanks for sharing:)

Cheri2628 said...

What a sweet story about your Dad. Mine is still alive, and I thank God for that since my mother died 15 years ago. He is 83, still in good health, lives close by, and is a rock-solid presence in my life.

Anne McAllister said...

I love the photo of your parents, Anne. Thanks for sharing your love and memories of your dad, and happy birthday to him even now.

I am glad you are still feeling guilty about the puppy. He will haunt you. Or I will! But I know that Chloe-dog is proof positive that you are a dog-lover when it comes to the real deal.

Lois said...

Nah, I don't think there would have been anyone think the parents in your books were based on the real thing. . . and great stuff you wrote about him! :)


Lisa Marie Wilkinson said...

My Dad was only 67 when he passed away. He was Cherokee Indian, and he was a very calm, spiritual soothing presence. Growing up, we did not have much money, but my Dad would spent hours handcrafting gifts for my sister and I and he always let us know he was proud of us. He's included in my first book dedication for my book being released next March. I only wish he could be here to read the dedication.

Annie West said...

Anne, what a lovely post. Both your parents sound delightful. I think those of us with terrific parents are so fortunate. I'm lucky to still have my dad as well as a lifetime's memories with him.

I'm glad to hear that someone else is a serial killer. My poor heroes and heroines keep losing their families (like you, usually before the book starts) and I can't help but feel sorry for them!


Pat Cochran said...

Like your parents, my father and
mother loved to dance. In fact,
Daddy was called by family and
friends by a special nickname. He
was called "el rey del vals" - the
king of the waltz. When he and
mother were out on the dance floor
and a waltz began, everyone would
clear the area to watch them dance.
Honey and I both lost our fathers,
within six months of each other,
in 1970. It was much too soon!qoiyp

Anne Gracie said...

Helen, I loved your post. My father's gentlemanly manners stayed with him right to the end and the nurses loved him for it. He was a serious cricketer, too. We did a lot of long trips in cars when I was a kid and we had a saying about all sorts of intersting places that passed in a blur - DWS - Dad Wouldn't Stop. LOL. But if there was a cricket match happening, well, it was time the car needed to cool down, or the kids needed to stretch their legs, or time for a cuppa. Or else we'd drive reeeeally slowly past the match with my mother saying "For heaven's sake, Jack, watch the road!"
I bet your childhood was a ball throwing and fetching childhood, too. ;)

Anne Gracie said...

Thanks Alli, I think of my dad often, too.
Cheri, that's wonderful. Treasure your Dad while you have him.

Anne McA -- Dad has a 'twin' grandaughter who shares his birthday, so we alwayss remember the two of them on the 16th.

As for that puppy, that made-up puppy, he won't haunt me, but I guess certain of my friends will ;)
And I'm not sure Chloe-dog will share those sentiments. She doesn't approve of me fraternizing with other dogs. A Staffie jumped up and gave me an enthusiastic lick on the nose the other night in the park and Ms Chloe-dog chased him off furiously and pinned him down. Everyone there was stunned; normally she's a gentle and easy-going, but not this time. And it was a Staffie! Much bigger and stronger than she is.

Anne Gracie said...

Lois, thanks, but I've actually had letters from people who had lousy fathers and assumed from my books I had, too.
I know about lousy fathers -- I was a counsellor for a while, and I've seen some in action and dealt personally with a few very nasty types.
But my dad is more a model for my heroes than my villains. My mother would say so, certainly.

Anne Gracie said...

Lisa, what a lovely story. It must be lovely to have things your father made for you. I'm sure your dad knows about your book, wherever he is, and is just bursting with pride for your wonderful achievement. My dad didn't get to read my books, either -- he read bits, but was too sick for a long read. But one of my first things I had published was a short story based on a story he'd told me when I was a child. He'd forgotten he told it to me, and he was so proud of it and read it over and over. I made it into a small book and he kept it on his bedside table in hospital.

Anne Gracie said...

Hi Annie, yes, the serial killer club.
I was telling my fiend, Marion Lennox that I had finally come out and confessed in public to being a serial killer and she agreed. (She also frequently reminds me of the Bad Thing I did to that puppy)
She said it's a known fact that the most dangerous jobs in the world, the one with the highest mortality rate is that of being the parent of a hero or heroine in a romance.

Anne Gracie said...

He was called "el rey del vals" - the
king of the waltz. When he and
mother were out on the dance floor
and a waltz began, everyone would
clear the area to watch them dance.

King of the waltz... blissful sigh... There's something special about a man who can dance, isn't there?
Pat's that's a wonderful memory to have. There's a special magic between a couple who love to dance and who've spent a lifetime dancing together. Do you think it's something that's lost, or is it coming back, I wonder, with the return to popularity of ballroom and similar pair dancing ...

Anne Gracie said...

Hi, this is very bad of me, I know, but I'm just experimenting to see if my attempt to give myself an avatar has worked.

Anna Campbell said...

Anne, what a beautiful post. I too lost my dad a few years ago and he was an amazing man - like yours, one of nature's real gentlemen. I still really miss him. Pat, I love the description of your father as the king of the waltz!

Trish Morey said...

Coming in so late on this gorgeous post (was trying to ignore it - talk about Anne Gracie being a hard act to follow!:-) but in all seriousness, what a great celebration of all things Dad.

Mine is wonderful and thankfully still with us - and like most bush Ozzies, can make or fix anything with a bit of fencing wire and piece of corrugated iron. And even without he can improvise - when we lived in England and he'd borrowed our little car for a jaunt around and the exhaust fell off (how embarrassing!), what did he use to fix it? (No fencing wire handy in the fields of Norwich) He used his shoelaces.

Yep, he has no pride as well:-) Gotta love Dads. Scares me to death he might not be there forever but you're so right Anne. Treasure them while they're there. Great advice.

And I loved that pic of your folks too. Can see why you turned out okay:-)

Anne Gracie said...

My niece, Kellie, who was my dad's 'twin' just sent this to me so I'm posting it for her. She said:
I tried to leave this on your website but don't have a Blogger or Google Account so it'll have to be for you only. THANKS!

Dear Anne,
I am the twin granddaughter and I am about to go on a family holiday with my Dad who is a wonderful father. But what I wanted to say is that you made me cry with the beautiful things you've said about Pa and I so terribly miss him. I also miss seeing Nanny so I would like you to wish her a wonderful birthday on this day 27th June.

Anne Gracie said...

Anna, thanks for dropping by. Hugs for your dad.

Trish, your post made me smile. My dad was no handyman. I remember he built this shade house for his orchids and bonsais (he was a passionate gardener.) It sagged and listed to one side and after a few years it fell over and the only thing that kept it from being flat was the fence. Did that bother my dad? Nope. He kept on using it...
So a handy bush-aussie legend he was not, but yeah, a gread dad and a lovely grandfather.

Kellie's off to her brother's wedding in the UK - he fell for a lovely scots lass, and Dad would have been so thrilled. He'll be there in spirit, as will I.