Remembering the ’80′s with Kristan Higgins & Ruthie Knox
Joyce Lamb, USA TODAY posted this recent exchange with romance authors Kristan & Ruthie, remembering the 1980′s . . . was I born yet? *grins*
Take it away, Ruthie and Kristan …
RK: Hold on, Kristan, I’m not ready for this yet. I’m still trying to find my Pet Shop Boys CD … *rustles* … oh, wait. Here. Depeche Mode will do, right?
KH: I was thinking The Smiths, but that Morrissey … he’s so moody. Get a job and move out of your parents’ basement, Morrissey!
RK: I used to have a shirt with Morrissey’s face on it. Because yes, I was that sort of teenager. But these days, I prefer something more upbeat. Walking on Sunshine?
KH: “Whoa-oh!” Great. That’ll be stuck in my head for the next few weeks. So, Ruthie, seen any ’80s movies lately?
RK: Wait, we’re supposed to do research for this thing? Eep! I’m going to rely on my catalog of childhood memories.
KH: Good idea. Though I was but a twinkle in my father’s eye back then … OK, fine, I was in high school … there were some goodies. An entire empire built on teenage angst, yes? Thank you, John Hughes!
RK: I think my favorite was Pretty in Pink. I wanted to be a fashion designer like Andie (though now, the outfits — oy!), except I would’ve picked Duckie over what’s-his-name any day. Fast-forward to 2012, and I’ll take James Spader.
KH: Have you seen James Spader lately, Ruthie?
RK: I hadn’t seen James Spader lately, but now you’ve just made me look him up. I amend my statement. I’ll take 1980s James Spader.
KH: And hey … are you saying you have something against shoulder pads? They make you look so strong and, er, masculine. Me, I would’ve taken Emilio Estevez. Sure, he wasn’t in that movie, but in The Breakfast Club? Adorable!
RK: Emilio Estevez? Really? I never looked twice at him. I was all about the bad boy. Judd Nelson in the closet. Oh, yum.
KH: We never really get over our teen years, do we? What I truly did love about those movies — and I was roughly the same age as the characters — was that there’s hope in high school. Granted, the cute boy never asked me out or declared his love (except in my oh-so-active imagination), but there was hope for the geeky girls. What do you think, Ruthie? Can you still remember prom? (By the way … Judd Nelson? I think there was a mistake in casting. He never worked for me. Too grumpy, not cute enough.)
RK: I like ‘em grumpy. Emilio: too cute, not grumpy enough. But let’s not fight.
As for prom — not a happy tale. But I’m with you on the hope thing. And I think we love to watch that story over and over — that story of the geeky, unappreciated girl (or boy) getting noticed. Or the story of that one unexpected night that turns out to change everything.
KH: Yeah. I’ll never forget that night that Rob Lowe and I … oh, hang on. That may have been a dream. (Rob, I am still COMPLETELY AVAILABLE. This wedding ring comes off!) Ruthie, you said, “One night that changes everything.” Ooh! I like that! You know, in my most recent book, Somebody to Love, there’s a one-afternoon stand. Does that count?
RK: They all count. Tell me more …
KH: Well, here’s the deal. Parker Welles has to go to her evil cousin’s wedding. She’s something of a pariah among her aunts and cousins, who are basically the flesh-eating type of relative. They do their best to make Parker feel utterly second-class. Then, just when she’s found a perfectly good hiding place to nurse a martini, along comes her dad’s personal attorney, Thing One, also known as James Cahill. And while she’s never much liked him before, since her dad treats him like the son he never had and basically ignores his only child … Parker can’t help thinking James is kinda delicious. What follows is a smokin’ hot encounter in a conveniently located bedroom and some very memorable nooky.
How about you, Ruthie? Got any one-night stands on the mind lately?
RK: It just so happens that I do! My next release, About Last Night, shares a title and a one-night stand with the ’80s movie featuring Rob Lowe and Demi Moore. But I’m pretty sure the similarities end there. My heroine, Cath Talarico, has had more one-night stands than she can count on her fingers, but in the past two years she’s completely reformed … until she gets accidentally plastered on a very bad blind date and ends up being escorted home by an uptight Englishman she knows from the train station. Who turns out not to be … all that uptight. Sort of smoking hot, in fact. And from that point on, it’s pretty much all the way you’d imagine, only better.
KH: What ho! I mean, what a ho! How thrilling, Ruthie … I like the idea of a bad girl. We all love bad boys, so it seems only fair to have a woman mowing down men with her super-sexy powers.
I think it’s always interesting to learn what the seemingly spontaneous one-nighter actually reveals about a character. Most of us don’t fall into bed with strangers (er … I don’t, Ruthie, except when I’m playing pretend …). So when you do a “drag and shag,” as Parker calls it, what’s really going on? What does the character sense about the other? These are deep, philosophical questions, Ruthie. Take your time!
RK: Sorry, I was busy having sex with a stranger. Give me a sec to adjust my —
RK: … thong. There.
No, no, really, I agree. I do love stories that use a one-night stand to delve into character. What makes them do it? Are they lonely, damaged, or just looking for some kind of release valve from other pressures in their lives? About Last Night is really a story about a heroine who can’t find any way to communicate with this guy she wants to be with except through sex. She’s too damaged and gun-shy to trust her heart. And I think that’s inherent in the one-night-stand story — there’s a degree to which they have to trust each other to be physical, even while they’re holding back emotionally.
Was that sufficiently philosophical for you?
KH: For a woman who just fell out of bed with a handsome stranger, Ruthie, you are very deep indeed!
Trust is definitely an issue in Somebody to Love, too. James has had a thing for Parker since Day 1, but she’s cagey, our girl. Parents, especially Dad, have essentially failed her, and the father of her kid was in love with someone else during their brief relationship. The one thing she recognizes, there as she sits on the stairs with Thing One, is that he’s kind. And she never noticed that before. And then, kablammy. On him like white on rice. After that, despite her instinct to bolt, she figures what the heck, she’ll give a relationship a try. Unfortunately and almost immediately, it seems that James was using her to get closer to her father, his boss.
Which makes me think of Sixteen Candles. Remember that one, Ruthie? Poor Molly Ringwald, forgotten by her family on her birthday. And then it seems like Cute Boy stands her up on top of that! When what to her wondering eyes should appear but Cute Boy! And a cake! What could be nicer than dessert and a first kiss?
RK: Ah, that’s good stuff. These poor, tortured characters. All the parents in John Hughes’ movies were horrible (or dead), and my Cath’s parents in About Last Night fit that mold. Honestly, it’s a good thing we reward these poor heroines with hot men, or I suspect they’d stage a revolution.
Which, come to think of it … ’80s movie revolution — now there’s a case where I’d side with Team Estevez.
KH: Preach it, sister. I’m off to update my Netflix queue and order your book.
RK: Atta girl. I’ve already got yours, and it just bumped its way shamelessly to the top of my TBR pile. Dr. Seuss references and an afternooner? I’m so there!
Joyce: Thanks, Ruthie and Kristan! Especially for the Diet Coke snort that’s still burning in my sinuses.