My mom's birthday is always a special day in the Castle family. It should be, considering the number of years she spent making her three kids eat vegetables, driving us to various school activities in lousy weather, taking her life into her hands to wake me up on school days, and generally taking excellent care of her unruly brood. That includes Dad, by the way:-) I wanted to share her day with all of you today, though, not only because she's an awesome person who deserves it, but because I probably wouldn't be writing what I do if it weren't for her. See, my mom is the Original Romance Junkie. And I don't only owe her my existence...I probably owe her my career. Oh my God, I can already her her gloating out there somewhere. Yeah Mom, you were right. You always said I should write a book. Annoying, but you were right:-)
My house was chock full o' romance for as long as I can remember. I know I've already told the story of my early reading revelation around here, so I won't repeat myself. But with a kid who could read like that at age three in the house, it was only a matter of time before Karen Castle's eldest child's interest was piqued by the multiple paperbacks scattered around the house. And they were so pretty...all those bare-chested warriors and gorgeous women trying desperately not to wear their flowing dresses. I believe, though, that I first became interested in romance because of the monthly boxes.
What boxes, you may ask? Actually, a lot of you can probably guess. See, mom belonged to the Harlequin book club, and every month, the new releases from the lines she preferred were sent to the house along with a free gift. What was the gift? Well, every month, Harlequin also sent along a new wine glass. It took me a lot of years to figure out that this was really pretty funny. After all, it plays into the stereotype of the romance reader...though I'll tell you what, those glasses survived longer than most of the other ones in the house did (my dad is a notorious glass-breaker), and I have several in my possession even now. I cherish them, simply because of the memories they bring back. Every month was a surprise, and mom gamely let me rummage through what she'd gotten. At some point, there was a book about some sort of mer-man, kind of different than the rest. That one, I read. My first Harlequin. And she and I both enjoyed it.
I didn't realize, way back then, how cool it was that my mother was allowing me to read romance. It didn't seem out of the ordinary to me, just a nice thing that Mom and I had in common, an interest we could share. I see now that she was quite open-minded about the whole thing. And rather than hiding those wonderful stories away, almost ashamed, the way some people still are about their reading preference (as if it were embarrassing not to be reading something with more, I don't know, gravitas or something), Mom decided to open up a whole new world for me, the natural extension of the fairy tales I had loved as a child. "That's a good one," she'd tell me, tossing me the latest Johanna Lindsey or Julie Garwood. I'd read it. We'd discuss. And I have to say, I don't ever remember her taste being off. She knew her stuff. Still does, in fact:-) It was great day for me when I recommended someone she hadn't tried yet.
Years have gone by, many things have changed; the boxes quit coming long ago, and Fabio appears to have found other career options to pursue. But some things are eternal, it seems. Those Harlequin glasses, for one. And the piles of books, scattered around her house, tucked into every nook and cranny. "How's this one?" I always ask, waving an intriguing-looking paperback in her direction. If she tells me it's a good one, I take it as gospel.
She tells me mine fall into that category. I couldn't be prouder. Happy birthday, Mom...and thanks for being not only a great parent, but a generous reader, and now, a treasured friend.
And thanks, everyone, for letting me share Mom's 56th with you. Uh-oh, I can hear her yowling somewhere...I meant 26th, Mom, sorry!
So now it's time for the question of the day: how did all of you get introduced to reading romance? Did someone share, or did you find it all on your own?
P.S. That cute (and passed out) kid in the picture is my middle baby, Connor, when he was just a little smaller. He's gotten a little taller, but he still hangs on his Gramma like that.