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Book Club: The Windflower by Sharon & Tom Curtis [Updated: Giveaway]

Book Club: The Windflower by Sharon & Tom Curtis [Updated: Giveaway]

The Windflower by Laura London


UPDATE: Robin has an extra copy of the original first edition of The Windflower hanging around the house, that she’s giving away to one commenter. Please see the details at the end of this post and enter via the Rafflecopter.


Welcome to the first book club of 2014. Today we are hosting Sharon & Tom Curtis’ book The Windflower.  Read the review here. The following are some questions that will launch our book club chat.


1.    Okay, let’s get the most important question out of the way first: what have you been doing in the years since you wrote your Romances, and are you planning to write any new books? What kinds of characters and stories interest you now?

In the years since we wrote romances, Tom has been working, driving his 18-wheeler. Sharon worked in bookstore management. Sharon cared for her mother while her mother was ill with lymphoma. We read lots, Tom went on long hikes with the dogs, we watched our children complete their education, start their professional lives, marry and begin families. We played with our grandchildren. Tom and the kids continue to perform Irish music in the family band. We were politically active. Sharon watched baseball. Tom went on three day bike trips with friends, which Sharon calls the tavern tours of northern Wisconsin due to the frequent enjoyment of libations along the way.

We are currently working on an urban fantasy. We like characters with vulnerabilities, psychological baggage, big hearts, a healthy sense of humor and a pronounced appetite for life. We like stories with adventure, humor, surprises and good outcomes.

2.    In what ways do you think the genre has changed since you started writing? Why do you think your books have remained popular for 30+ years?

We love the way the romance genre has grown in readership and the sheer volume of novels that are published every month. There are more sub-genres within the wider circle of romance, more chances for readers to find a niche that really appeals to them and more titles to choose from.

We feel incredibly grateful that there are readers who are interested in our books. Just guessing, but it seems that the product of our imagination must be relatable to the imaginations of our readers.



3.    There are a number of literary allusions in your books, especially to Shakespeare. Were you intentionally working with any particular types or specific literary works in your books, and if so, can you give some examples?

It’s too long ago for us to remember exact examples, but Tom was an English lit major at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and had recently completed a two semester course on the complete works of Shakespeare, taught by a brilliant young professor.  To say that these great works were very much on Tom’s mind would be an understatement. He had read and studied in great detail every word Shakespeare had ever written. He had  classes on Milton and Jane Austen that made quite an impression as well. He was more full of literary allusions than you could shake a stick at.


4.    One of the most appealing aspects of The Windflower for us is the tone of the book. It is a *fun* book to read, and it feels as if you’re both celebrating the genre and gently having a bit of fun with it. Are we reading too much into it, or were you giving a bit of a wink to your readers with Merry, Devon, and Cat?

Thank you for noting and complimenting the tone of The Windflower. We were indeed celebrating the genre and, in moments, and lovingly, having a fun with it. It was a wonderful writing experience.


5.    It is often said that Romance is a women’s genre, and that it should stay that way. Given the fact that half of the Laura London writing team is male, what do you say to that?
Tom says, “Men have romantic feelings but they are not in the habit of fully expressing them. Many of those romantic feelings are based on gratitude. If most men wrote a romance novel, it would be about one hundred ways to say thank you. Very boring.


In addition to our review and the Q&A, we’ve put together some questions we hope might help provoke discussion:

1. How do you think The Windflower compares to other historical Romances of its time? Compared to those currently published?
2. Who’s your favorite character and why? Who’s your least favorite character and why?
3. This book is often talked about as part of the “forced seduction” trope, even though Devon and Merry don’t get past second base until they’re married, and by then it’s completely consensual. Thoughts?
4. Why do you think this book remains a classic in the genre? If you don’t think it should be, why not?
In celebration of the re-issue of The Windflower, we are perversely going to give away one of the original editions of the paperback, published in 1984. These became a bit of a collector’s item over the years, and one of us managed to hoard collect a few of them.a Rafflecopter giveaway

To enter, please tell us which Classic Romance novel you would take with you to a desert island.
Friday News: Facebook wants to violate your privacy again, device security faces new challenges, food poisonings revealed via Yelp, and reviving old words

Friday News: Facebook wants to violate your privacy again, device security...

Do You Want Facebook Listening to Your iPhone? – Type in a Facebook update over your iPhone and everything the phone hears will be recorded, part of Facebook’s ambition to link everything in your life to, well, pretty much everyone else. Apparently this is an opt-in feature, but it’s not clear how that will happen or what the terms of this new “service” are, and it’s especially creepy in the context of Facebook’s dubious relationship to user privacy.

A more important question: will the app be able to pick up any audio over the deafening bliss-screams of the NSA, the chorus of stunned laughs and high fives from the Beltway? No matter how often or egregiously Facebook mangles our expectations of personal privacy and social boundaries, we keep giving it another chance. And another, and another. Even after learning Facebook has more or less collaborated with the NSA for years, everyone gets excited all over again when the company announces a brand new way to hand over personal sensor data: –Valley Wag

If you think our security sitch is bad now, wait till you get a load of the internet of things – While we’re on the subject of privacy, check out this article about how our ability to network more and more devices is making those devices more vulnerable to security attacks. In an environment where anti-virus software is pretty much beside the point, there is a movement to shift the security discussion toward new anti-hacking strategies. Scary but important.

But, there’s a rash of shiny new devices connecting to the internet that are also vulnerable to a remote attack and that requires a new way to think about security – and this will be a topic at the upcoming Structure show in San Francisco June 18-19. And then there is an array of less glamorous connected things that predate the IoT hype cycle, and that most people don’t even think about as being vulnerable. Your printer, for example, could be a disaster waiting to happen, said Patrick Gilmore, CTO of Boston-based data center provider Markley Group (and former network architect at Akamai.) –Gigaom

In food poisoning probes, officials call for Yelp – And there are times when having the government watching might not be so terrible. Take this New York CIty Health Department program, for example, that partnered with Yelp to track down health violations via consumer complaints of illness in restaurant reviews. It looks like the program accounted for about ten percent of the cases the Health Department identifies annually.

Officials reached out to Yelp, and the website agreed to help with a pilot project, said the health department’s Dr. Sharon Balter. Crucial to their investigations is finding the people who get sick, and Yelp members have email accounts that can make that easier, she said.

Yelp sent the health department weekly roundups of restaurant reviews for nine months, beginning in mid-2012. Computer searches narrowed them to postings that mentioned someone getting sick. Investigators focused on illnesses that occurred between 12 and 36 hours after a meal — the time frame for most symptoms of food poisoning to surface. –Yahoo

16 Weird Forgotten English Words We Should Bring Back – Forget your traditional word-a-day vocabulary builder. Who needs the dictionary when you can revive a word like “crapulence,” or “night-hag,” or “nimgimmer” (say that one three times fast). As in, ‘I’m surprised there aren’t more nimgimmers in Historical Romance to treat notorious rake heroes.’ The English language; a gift that keeps on giving. –Mental Floss

Note: Next Tuesday, May 27th, is the Dear Author Book Club. This month we’re featuring The Windflower, by Laura London (aka Tom and Sharon Curtis), with a joint review by Sunita and me and a Q&A from the Curtises. Also, I think I’m going to be giving away one of my first edition paperbacks of the book (I have a slight hoarding problem with copies of The Windflower).

In the meantime, can you identify the classic Romance to which the opening scene of the book pays homage? (Sunita picked up on this allusion right away, but I did not)