Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Magic or madness? - Kandy Shepherd

Do you believe in love at first sight? I do. 

The night I first met my husband I knew straight away he was “The One”. Luckily, he felt the same about me. I can still remember what he was wearing, his smile, how my heart started pounding erratically, how I couldn’t sleep that night for the excitement and anticipation of seeing him next evening for our first date. Just days later we talked about spending our lives together. Ten months later we were married—and we would have done it sooner if we’d been able to arrange it. Twenty-three years later we’re still together. Yes, I believe in love at first sight. It worked for me!
Allie and Noah fell in love at first sight--the start of a love that endured in The Notebook.

And I believe in it on the pages of romance novels and in romantic movies, too. In fact, one of the joys for a romance reader is that the hero and heroine meet, fall in love (maybe make love) and commit (to some degree or another) all within the pages of the story. Sigh! Don’t you just love that happy-ever-after ending? It’s what keeps me reading (and writing!) romance novels.

Cupid's Span at Rincon Park in San Francisco, just near Tom's fictional
apartment in Love is  a Four-Legged Word
You can tell already that I’m not among the critics who query the speed at which our romance heroes and heroines fall in love. Or the cynics who say you can’t base happiness on instant attraction. Heck, this man-woman falling head-over-heels thing has been going on for a long time!

The Ancient Greeks called it theia mania—madness of the gods. Then there’s the Cupid’s Bow scenario—love coming with the swiftness of an arrow to the heart. The medieval European tradition of courtly love purported the source of the love dart to be a woman’s eyes. At college, studying drama, I played Rosalind in Shakespeare’s As You Like It. I was obviously very influenced by the quote: “Who ever lov’d that lov’d not at first sight?”


It's all about the eyes when we're falling in love
 Scientists put what the French call coup de foudre down to hormones and chemicals and even use MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to study the physical changes in the brain that take place when lovers are in close proximity. (Can you imagine what a turn-off that would be, kissing your man while doctors take an MRI?) But I’m not arguing with this, don’t we often put down that source of instant attraction as “chemistry”?
They're budgies, not lovebirds, but the feeling is the same!
 Of course we know that initial heart-stopping attraction won’t last without what psychologist Dr Gordon Livingstone, in his book How to Love, calls the ten "essential virtues"— kindness, optimism, courage, loyalty, tolerance, flexibility, beauty, humor, honesty and intelligence.

Our romance heroines aren’t silly, they’re looking for those “virtues”, too. And it’s up to us authors to make sure we give our characters a hefty helping of those qualities—along with the lust-inspiring ones, too. That way we can happily believe that their love will endure.


 In my The Castaway Bride, lone sailor Matt and runaway bride Cristy are shipwrecked on a tropical island for just four days—and it’s more than long enough for them to fall first in lust and then in love. 

In Love is a Four-Legged Word, Maddy and Tom have 21 days to ensure the millionaire mutt Brutus gets to keep his inheritance. And it’s more than long enough for Maddy and Tom to fall in love. I love this review from a new reader on Goodreads: “To have a dog, money and find love in 21 days makes for a good book.”

On page 85 of 
Love is a Four-Legged Word, Maddy and Tom have just kissed for the first time but Maddy is cynical about the concept of forever love. 
“Maddy couldn’t look at him; she couldn’t trust herself not to reach up and kiss him again. She looked down to the sidewalk, noting where a youthful hand had chalked a red heart with ‘K & J forever’ entwined within it.”

That chalked red heart is a little tribute in my book to my own real-life romance with my husband, whose initial is, of course, J.

What about you? Do you believe in love at first sight? Or think it’s something that only exists in romance novels and movies? Do you have your own real-life love story to share?

Please leave a comment for a chance to win a signed trade paperback copy of Home Is Where the Bark Is. Please include your email address if you want to be in the draw.

I’m also giving away a free e-book of The Castaway Bride to anyone who comments here over the next five days via a coupon for Smashwords where you can download the book in a format to suit any e-reader or PC. Be sure to leave your email address if you would like the free download.

Author Kandy Shepherd
(Photo of Cupid's Span courtesy of )



Sarah Mayberry said...

Hi Kandy. I have never experienced love at first sight myself, but my good friend had a similar experience to you - she met her now husband, had a date, came home and said to her room mates "I'm going to marry that guy." Two weeks later he proposed. Ten years on, they have three little boys, one of whom is autistic, and they are still in love and still have each other's backs through all of life's challenges. So, yeah, I believe in some kind of instinctive love that sparks at first sight. Why the hell not?!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hey Sarah, thank you for sharing your friend's wonderful, real-life love story.
I'm so impressed by the way you say they "still have each other's backs through all of life's challenges". That's the real test of true love!
Talking of romances, I'm a great fan of your novels. Your characters and their emotions are so believable and make your books real page-turners.

Vanessa Barneveld said...

Hi, Kandy! I choked up when I read about you and J falling in love at first sight, and also at the K & J reference in Love is a Four-Legged Word.

I don't have a love at first sight story of my own, but I do believe it happens. My hubby and I knew each other for four years before we started dating, but by the end of that first official date, I *knew* he was the one for me. :)

I have *all* fabulous your books, including The Castaway Bride, so no need to enter me in the draw.

Cathleen Ross said...

I believe in love at first sight. Sometimes you just know that the person if right for you.

Annie West said...

Ah, Kandy, that's fantastic. Thanks for sharing. I know that with my husband it was attraction at first sight. Huge attraction! Then over the next little while came the falling in love as I got to know him. I remember the heart-pounding thrill of it too. Sigh.

TashNz said...

Hi Kandy. In cheesy movies when the couple finally kiss at the end and up in the sky random fireworks go off? Well I swear that happened when I first kissed the man that I fell in love with at first sight. The fireworks went off in my head :) So yes, I do believe in love at first sight :D

Sharon Archer said...

Hey, Kandy!
When I met my dh for the very first time, I felt a very strong connection! We're celebrating our 25 wedding anniversary at the end of this month. Since we also lived together for 5 years before that, he's been my hero and my constant for more than half my life.

It's been a while since I've read Love is a Four-Legged Word so I'd forgotten about the red heart and K & J - must be time I raided my book shelf again!

Lovely post!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hey Vanessa, so glad you enjoyed my own little love story--and how very nice to hear yours!
Thank you for your kind words about my books.

Kandy Shepherd said...

You just do know, don't you Cathleen? And sometimes you know who is wrong for you, too. Call it intuition, who knows, but those feelings can be too strong to ignore.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Annie, no wonder you write such amazing love stories when you have your own real life romance so close to your heart!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Fireworks, Tash? How absolutely wonderful! That must have been some kiss!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Sharon, I'm so loving reading these beautiful real-life love stories--including yours! Sigh!

host said...

I believe! :) I met my boyfriend in high school and I knew then that we would stay together for a long time. 15-years after we are still together - we did have our ups and downs but the love never changed.

franalokas (at) yahoo (dot) com

Anna Campbell said...

Kandy, what a fun post. And love the pics, especially the romantic budgies! And I think for a romance novel, that pressure cooker atmosphere of limited time works really well. I'm currently writing a hero and heroine who fall in love within a week - actually I think they fall in love at first sight but it takes a few days for their brains to catch up with their hearts!

CrystalGB said...

I do believe in love at first sight. You meet that person and just know he is the one.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Host, another believer in the power of love-at-first-sight that lasts through the years--thanks for sharing your story!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Crystal, thanks for sharing your thoughts about meeting "The One".

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Anna, thanks so much for taking time out to drop in. I'm looking forward to meeting your new hero and heroine in your next book!
I couldn't resist the budgies, so glad you like them too!

Cheryl Leigh said...

Kandy, I'm sighing over your romantic first meeting with your husband. Gorgeous!

I believe in love at first sight as I've heard so many stories of this happening to people. It didn't happen to me but I certainly believe in attraction at first sight. :)

The Brunette Librarian said...

I love that you believe in first love :) I'm not sure if I do...there are some pretty cute guys out there, but I haven't had that sudden "you are the one" thought yet. Maybe I need to get out there and meet more?

Congratulations on your marriage - It's always wonderful to hear about love matches in real life :)

rachie2004 AT yah00 *d8t* c-m