Fan Girl Friday – 90s rom-coms with Carla Caruso

It’s a pleasure to be writing on Paula Roe’s gorgeous blog – and here I’m going to confess my fandom of nineties rom-coms!

It doesn’t matter how much CGI and whiz-bang technology they have these days, nothing beats the feel-good, warm, fuzzy nature of a nineties rom-com, I reckon. Here are just a few of the retro flicks I adore and the key messages I’ve taken away concerning matters of the heart…

Sleepless in Seattle 1Sleepless in Seattle 2SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE – Aww! This ’93 flick, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, had me at “hello” (which reminds me of another great nineties flick, Jerry Maguire, but I digress…) The focus of this film is on a recently-widowed man’s son calling a radio talk show in an attempt to find his dad a partner. One of the female listeners (with tissues at the ready) is Meg Ryan’s character. She finds she can’t get the lovelorn guy out of her mind, even though she’s engaged… This one’s a good lesson in not settling for second best or ignoring those niggly doubts in a relationship. Hey, Mr Absolutely-Perfect-For-You could be just a phone call away!

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING – Another film with a title alluding to catching zeds, or the lack thereof… I’m sensing a theme here! Anyway, this ’95 flick surrounds a ticket-collecting romantic (Sandra Bullock), who pretends to be engaged to an unconscious man, but can’t fool his (not bad-looking) bro (Bill Pullman). The upshot? Building a web of lies about your life to impress others will only get you in trouble when you should really let your true self shine through.

THE OBJECT OF MY AFFECTION – This ’98 movie centres on a preggers social worker (Jennifer Aniston), who develops romantic feelings for her gay best friend (Paul Rudd) and decides to raise her child with him instead of her domineering boyfriend. The moral of the story? Gay pals are fantastic for shoe-shopping with… not so much for falling in love with.

Only YouONLY YOU – A teacher (Marisa Tomei) believes she’s destined to spend her life with a bloke named ‘Damon Bradley’ after his name’s spelt out on a Ouija board. Days before she’s to marry a podiatrist she may not love, she receives a call from a mate of her fiancé named…Damon Bradley (Robert Downey Jr.)She decides to spend a long weekend pursuing her dream man, who’s holidaying in Venice. The conclusion? Fate works in mysterious ways. She falls in love with Damon, then discovers that he actually lied and that’s not his real name – but she’s still head over heels with him regardless. So much for fate!

CluelessCLUELESS – In this ’95 flick, a popular high school student spends her days playing match-maker, helping her gal pals with fashion choices and looking for a man. The film provides a good lesson in being careful in case you fall for your ex-stepbrother… Actually, on second thoughts, it might be better described as: love can be found in unexpected places and sometimes that’s right under your nose.
So… what’s your fave nineties rom-com, and what did you learn from it?

Second Chance by Carla CarusoCarla Caruso is the author of Second Chance, featuring a feisty heroine, who time-travels back to the summer of 1998 and hopes to reunite with a past love. YOu can get it from Destiny here.

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Fan Girl Friday – Maps Ahoy with Louise Reynolds

LReynolds1012_0059Maybe it was the Hundred Acre Wood in Winnie-The-Pooh. Or perhaps the old auto club strip maps my mother thrust at us on the never-ending annual childhood road trips between Sydney and Melbourne. All I know is that I love maps.

There’s an air of expectancy when I open a book and see a map in the front. Either I need to know the lay of the land as in a murder mystery like Minette Walters’ The Ice House. Or it’s an invitation to enter an imaginary place created by an author as in William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County.

English County Map 1614

I started to collect maps in my late twenties when I bought a pair of these original maps of English counties dated 1614. I love their beautiful jewel colours, latin names and fancy lettering. They would once have been part of a large and expensive portfolio belonging to a gentleman’s library. Luckily they’re now mine.

1765 Strip Map

Later I acquired this original Georgian Strip map of 1765 (predecessor of the auto club strip maps of my youth) which came from The Gentleman’s Magazine. Designed to guide the traveller from London to Lands End by the great turnpike roads of the era, this is my favourite map. The delicate pastel coloured strips differentiate the counties giving the map an attractive graphic quality. But it’s the imaginary journey I take alongside that gentleman that makes my heart race. We set off from ‘Hide Park Gate’ and pass through the little villages of ‘Chelsey’ and Hammersmith. And in my imagination I’m not sitting inside, all corseted up. I’m up top beside the driver. The names of large houses and directions like ‘to the moor’, ‘the college’ and ‘to the mill’ make this an intriguing map. What college? And which mill?

To OS Mapssay that HM Government’s Ordnance survey maps of England have given me hours of pleasure probably sounds very dull. But in my 30’s I caught the rambling bug and the romance of English long distance footpaths captured me. I acquired piles of OS maps to trek these paths. Later I used those same maps to identify, if I could, those intriguing mills and colleges from the 1765 map. They’ve also been invaluable for family history, helping to locate family farms and mining leases.

c. Alan Proctor & Dennis Brierley 1982My map fetish extends to collecting quirky handwritten walking guides like A Wiltshire Way. I love to think of some geeky rambler standing in the freezing cold, blowing on frozen fingers to warm them enough to draw the pictures. I love the little cotton floss trees, the careful script. I love that he has stopped to draw a stile or church and include them on the map in the manner of a medieval monk decorating a manuscript. It’s about time and care. This man is more than a walker. He’s a creator. And I wonder whether that gate, noted as ‘always locked’ in 1982, has ever been unlocked?

Her Italian Aristocrat cover

One of the things most complimented in Her Italian Aristocrat is the portrayal of an Italian hill town setting. Whilst I gripped my wrist and resisted the urge to draw a map, I did see that town so vividly in my mind’s eye. My hero and heroine spend a fair bit of time on the streets of Montefigore and I hope, map or not, that I’ve managed to convey that sense of place.

You can visit Louise on her website, blog or Facebook.  And hey, why don’t you buy her book?  You can get it from iTunes, Amazon, Kobo, Google and Destiny.

Fan Girl Friday – Loving Love with Rhian Cahill

First a big thank you to Paula for having me over to go all fan girl. 🙂

It seems appropriate to be talking about what I love the day after Valentine’s Day. You see the thing I absolute love and can’t live without is love! It comes in all shapes and size. You can love something like a favourite movie or book, and then you can love something so deeply that your life isn’t the same without it.

ImageThe love of my life is Mr C. We’ve been married 25 years (yes, I was a child bride). I can still remember the moment I saw him the first time. It was like my whole body sighed and I thought, ah, there he is. And wasn’t just his cute butt that got my attention, although that didn’t hurt 😉 While we’ve obviously gone the distance it hasn’t always been easy and we’ve seen our share of trouble (I’ve wanted to strangle him more than once. A day.) but when the dust settles we’ve always come back to each other. I guess that’s why I love romance so much. Why I lose myself in the story of two people falling so deeply into each other while navigating their busy lives that no matter what the obstacle in their path they find a way around it and to each other.

For me love really does make the world go round and whether it’s a TV show, book, food or person who inspires that feeling in my chest doesn’t matter. What matters is the joy that emotion brings whenever I get to spend time doing the things I love. (And yes, doing Mr C probably tops the list of loved things :laugh: ) Everyone deserves to go ‘fan girl (or boy)’ over things that make them happy. And we should ALL have a fan moment every day. We deserve it. So go on, get your ‘fan girl’ shirt on and go crazy!

ImageRhian Cahill is the alter ego of a stay-at-home mother of four. With motherly duties rapidly dwindling Rhian is able to make use of the fertile imagination she used to keep herself sane for all those years of slavery. Having spent some years living overseas and visiting tropical climates has helped inspire some steamy stories. Multi-published in erotic romance, Rhian, with the help of Mr  Muse, spends her days and nights writing.  When not glued to the keyboard you’ll find her book in hand avoiding any and all housework as much as possible. For more on Rhian visit her website or you can contact her at rhian@rhiancahill.com or connect on Twitter  or Facebook, or you can download Rhian’s free app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.

yay! We’re live and ready to talk alphas!

Romance Writers of Australia

Welcome to a conference spotlight from the Riding the Waves conference!

Today we have Shannon Curtis and Paula Roe who will be presenting the workshop MASTER OR COMMANDER ~ Getting from Alpha Hole to Alpha Hero.

 BiosShannon Curtis (681x1024)

Shannon Curtis has worked in diverse roles such as office admin manager, customer service rep, logistics supervisor, distribution coordinator, dangerous goods handler,  event planner, switch bitch and betting agent, and decided to try writing a story like those she loves to read when she found herself at home after the birth of her first child. Now she spends entirely too much time daydreaming about hunky heroes and malicious murders – for her books, of course! She loves reading, loves writing, and loves hearing from her readers, so visit her at www.shannoncurtis.com and say hi!

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Paula Roe is an experienced workshop presenter, devising and delivering workshops for RWA, Australian Romance Readers…

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Fan Girl Friday – when you get unstuck

Hi everyone!  I hope you’re all enjoying my guests on Fan Girl Friday!  They’ve all been wonderful so far and there’s more fabulous authors coming up in the weeks ahead.

So, on to today’s post.  Because I’m at the tail-end of my current book (due Monday) I didn’t have to look far for today’s inspiration: the wonderful joy of getting unstuck when you hit a wall.  Okay, so it’s not a place or a product or a shiny thing you can stroke but it is something I am a HUGE fan of.  Let me explain…

this wall... I hit it

this wall… I hit it

I’ve been writing my current book since October and I was steaming along quite nicely up until Christmas.  I had around 5K to go and had spent a few nights writing around 2K. I was enthused, I loved my characters, the story was good, I was on a roll.

And then I hit that wall.  I got distracted by Christmas, by a brand-new Doctor Who DVD, by my son’s obsession with watching back-to-back Horrible Histories episodes.  I suddenly lost all enthusiasm for my story.  Every other project on my computer held more attraction, including rearranging my iTunes playlists (what the hell?) and cutting out old recipes from Super Food Ideas.  I honestly had no idea why I’d lost the love, but with the deadline penciled in angry red on my calendar, I had to do something.

sorry, Eric - you'll have to wait for another story...

sorry, Eric – you’ll have to wait for another story…

The first thing I looked at was my characters.  I loved everything about AJ, my heroine – she was feisty, straight forward, determined. She had a purpose, she had a goal and she was actively going for it.  I also loved my hero – he was driven, smart, attractive. He was a doctor, for heavens’ sakes, and I’d already picked out some gorgeous photos of Eric Dane (Dr Mark Sloan in Gray’s Anatomy) as my inspiration.  His name, however, turned out to be a problem.   I still really like ‘Mitch’ as a hero’s name, but it had always reminded me of a particularly awful boy at my son’s school.  Bad mistake.  So Mitch had to go.  But who to replace him with?  Well, thanks to my son’s holiday viewing habits, I’d been watching A LOT of television and I’d decided to base my hero’s looks on one of the show’s actors.  And give him his name.  And basically make him my poster boy.

And by changing those things, it meant all sorts of other add-on considerations.  I had to change his hair and eye color, hair length and texture, eye shape.  Face and nose shape.  Physique.  Even the way he dressed.  He had to dress like a Matthew, not a Mitch.  He had to walk and talk and command himself as this new person, not the old one, and with a background that fitted him.  Thankfully, those changes were relatively minor and easily fixed.  Mitch (the awful boy) had morphed into Matt (the gorgeous, dreamy-eyed doctor) and I was thrilled.

And because my hero had changed, I had to look at my choice of  writing music.

Some writers like total silence when they write.  Some listen to classical.  Some make playlists to suit the tone of their story. Now, as I write during the day at a public library, I don’t have the luxury of silence 🙂 so I got myself a good set of noise-cancelling headphones and some music to write by.  I have a standard ‘writing’ playlist on my iPod that I’ve used for the last three books, but this one was obviously not going to get written using my standard list.

This book had a slightly angsty feel to it, a bit alternative, acoustic and romantic.  So I went through my entire iTunes library (5000 of them!) and checked out some recommendations and came up with… a hours’ worth of writing music.  Yep, one whole hour.  I couldn’t use any from a prior playlist, and I had to match songs that complemented each other, that flowed well and were in keeping with my brand new hero.  Here’s what I ended up with (okay, you may not have heard of most of these bands.  That’s okay.  You should check them out anyway!):

  • penny flanaganDog Ears – The Howling
  • Dog Ears – Like Rain
  • Dog Ears – Mrs Winchester
  • Dog Ears – Onwards Onwards
  • Penny Flanagan – When You Were Mine
  • Penny Flanagan – Inseparable
  • Penny Flanagan – Common Heart
  • Penny Flanagan – Swallow Me
  • Penny Flanagan – Lap It Up
  • Penny Flanagan – Dig
  • Bic Runga – Drive
  • dog earsThe Unwinding Hours – Solstice
  • My Latest Novel – I Declare a Ceasefire
  • Snow Patrol – Chasing Cars
  • Owl City – Meteor Shower
  • Snow Patrol – Just Say Yes
  • Grovesnor – Dan

I can’t tell you how much I LOVE these songs.  I get little chills every time I hear them, even after a hundred-plus repeats!

The last thing I did was talk out my story with a writer.  Thanks to the wonderful Keziah Hill who offered up some great suggestions for a new scene I needed (but was clueless about)!

So, with those three things – hero, music, scene issues – I got finally unstuck and powered through the last 4K.  I AM SO HAPPY!!  And after I do just one more proofread, my hot doctor story is away!

Have you ever come unstuck?  And what do you do to fix it?  Would love to hear your suggestions and advice!

Fan Girl Friday – Rottnest Island with Rachael Johns

the lighthouse

the lighthouse

So, when the fabulous Paula asked if I wanted to appear on her new segment FAN GIRL FRIDAY I immediately replied with an enthusiastic “yes”, but then I looked around wildly for something to write about. Over the next few weeks, a few obvious things came up – Diet Coke (almost everyone knows about my love of the stuff), Trolls (I used to collect them in high school and am still rather fond), cats (love them) and KONGA (a crazy exercise thing I do once a week that no one seems to have heard of in other parts of Oz). In the end, I’ve decided to go with ROTTNEST ISLAND – a place I consider one of the best holiday spots on the planet.

one of the many cheeky quokkas on the island

one of the many cheeky quokkas on the island

Rottnest is a small island off the coast of Western Australia, just 19 kilometres from Fremantle (which incidentally happens to be where RWAus’s next conference is happening). I haven’t been to Rottnest nearly as many times as I like but the times I have been there have all left me with fond-memories.

I went there as a child with my Mum and grandparents, had the most awesome ever year seven camp, went back for a day just after I was married and then took my kids there for a week a couple of years back. There are so many awesome things about Rottnest:

  1. The transport on the island (bar a few service vehicles) is solely bicycles. You can bring your own on the ferry or hire a huge variety of different types once you get to the island. With all the walking and riding you do, you can enjoy holiday goodies guilt-free.
  2. my kids playing out the front of the Rottnest Pub one evening
  3. Quokkas – all over the island you’ll find these gorgeous little marsupials called quokkas. My sons were besotted by them, even after one of them got bitten on the finger.
  4. my kids playing out the front of the Rottnest Pub one evening

    my kids playing out the front of the Rottnest Pub one evening

    Food – you can cook for yourself in the chalets or camping grounds, but there are a zillion (well almost) other choices, most of them kid-friendly. There’s a delicious bakery that also sells yummy ice cream and the pub has a fabulous outside area for kids to run around.

  5. Safety – if you ignore the fact a head was recently found there, Rottnest has that awesome safe feeling that makes you feel as if kids can roam the island and not come into harm.
  6. Beaches/Swimming – The Basin area to swim at is one of the most magical swimming spots I have every encountered.Lighthouse – what island would be complete without a lighthouse? Rottnest’s is gorgeous and not too hard to get to by bike or foot.
  7. Family Fun – there’s a fun park with mini golf, trampolines and other stuff, as well as a movie hall that shows family favourites in the busy holiday seasons.

Honestly, whether you’re five or a hundred and five, Rottnest has something to offer for everyone. I’m feeling relaxed and happy just thinking about it now.

But I’m curious… what’s your favourite holiday spot and why?

Man Drought bookpageStandInStar bookpageRachael has two brand-spanking new books out this month: Man Drought (Harlequin Australia and currently only available in Aus/NZ territories) and Stand-In Star (Carina Press).  Visit Rachael via her website, blog, Twitter and Facebook.

Fan Girl Friday – A Great Fashion Find by Amy Andrews

amy andrews Today I’m going to rave about fashion. Yes, those who know me and my ability to travel with only an overnight case to a five day conference anywhere in the world and my one pair of shoes and one handbag per year and my multiple fashion-in-the-field wins (not) may find this kind of surprising 😀

But you know, when you find a good thing then Paula is right – you really do need to rave about it.

The thing is, it’s hard – really freaking hard – to find things that look good and fit well if you can’t just walk into a regular shop and buy a size off the rack. Really, it’s virtually impossible and trust me after hours of trying it’s also downright depressing. So imagine my absolute joy when my sister put me onto this FB page she’d stumbled across!  An online fashion retailer called Missmel.

Now, I’m not an internet shopper. In fact, one could quite fairly say about me that I’m not an early adopter of any kind of technology. Only just got my first iPhone after too long with a daggy decade-old clunker. So I was disheartened initially to find that Missmel was only an online store. What if I got something and it didn’t fit (a regular occurrence when your arse is huge and sizes are so different from one outfit to the next) or looked terrible etc. Then I’d have to return it…. It all seemed too hard.

Me wearing one of Missmel’s dresses (and with pre short do!) at the Sydney Harlequin Escape party in November 2012  with the fabulous Jan Murray.

Me wearing one of Missmel’s dresses (and with pre short do!) at the Sydney Harlequin Escape party in November 2012 with the fabulous Jan Murray.

But then I discovered that Missmel is based in Brisbane and even better just down the road from my chiro who I see most fortnights! So I rang her and asked it if would be possible to actually go to her “shop” and try stuff on.

And this is where this story gets really good because Mel is an utter inspiration! The thing I love about her is that Mel is like me and like lots of women I know – a busy working mother who is not a size 8. There is only one thing worse than being a plus size woman in this body-obsessed world and that is being sold a size 22 in a shop by a teenager wearing a pair of size 6 jeans!

So instantly I felt Mel “got” me. She welcomed me into her home from where she runs her business and in actual fact ended up consoling me when I burst into tears about two minutes later because it was the week leading up to the one year anniversary of my Mum’s death and I was feeling a little wobbly. Way to go me, right? Nothing like being a snivelling mess with a total stranger.

But that’s the thing – she didn’t feel like a stranger.

And then there’s her philosophy – I’m not beautiful like you, I’m beautiful like me. She’s been through her own trials and tribulations but she is an amazing advocate for looking and feeling sexy no matter what size is on your label. The stuff she posts on her FB page about size and body image and loving the person you are is truly inspirational stuff! She’s an advocate for women – all women – and I freaking love that!

Lastly, of course, there are the clothes – hundreds of beautiful reasonably priced garments designed by people who understand bigger bodies and know how to cut fabrics to flatter and enhance the good bits while hiding the not-so-good bits. Not clothes for smaller women just made larger, clothes made with the bigger gal in mind from the get-go! I left there that first day with $500 worth of clothes mainly for the Gold Coast conference (about ten items I think) and every one of them are winners!

But I left with so much more too. I left feeling good about myself. I left feeling empowered.

So if you too are tired of fruitless shopping expeditions that do nothing other than increase your dependence on alcohol then I urge you to discover Missmel. Ring her, talk to her. You won’t be sorry.

BTW – she also stocks an amazing range of clothes for women who don’t have to worry about their labels. Missmel is about all women, no matter their size. Among others, she stocks the Hell Bunny and Betty Paige lines which are gorgeous retro chic and so damn sexy!

the devil and the deepAmy is an award-winning author who has written thirty-one romances for Harlequin Mills and Boon in both the Medical and RIVA/Presents lines. To date she’s sold over a million books and been translated into thirteen different languages. In 2010 she took out the sexy category in the prestigious Romantic Book of the Year Award.

She’s recently launched a couple of separate writing ventures with the release of Sister Pact a contemporary women’s fiction novel that she wrote with her sister Ros Baxter and is published by Harper Collins Australia as well as the very exciting release of her first category romance, Taming the Tycoon, with Entangled Publishing. Both of these novels recently became finalists in the 2012 ARRA romance awards.

In what she euphemistically likes to call her spare time, Amy works part time as a pediatric intensive care nurse and was on the national executive for Romance Writers Of Australia for six years during which time she organised two national conferences and undertook a two year term as president. She’s been married for twenty-two years and has two teenagers. She lives on acreage on the outskirts of Brisbane but secretly wishes it was the hillsides of Tuscany. You can find her on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

Fan Girl Friday – A Rose By Any Other Name by Keziah Hill

After the previous fan girl post of Paula’s, the pressure is on.  As an erotic romance writer should I make up a deep and abiding obsession with riding crops or latex? Wax lyrical about nipple clamps or butt plugs? Reveal some kind of weird fetish concerning feet or fur?

The truth is, I’m boring. Some of you know this because the most exciting tweets I tweet (well, at least I find them exciting) are pictures of my garden. I love flowers. More particularly, I love roses.

I have a small suburban garden so I can only plant a limited amount which is around fifty or so. Everything from tiny miniatures like The Fairy  to big ramblers like New Dawn.  I seem to have a thing for pink, intensely fragrant roses like Gertrude Jekyll.

iceberg

Iceberg

Why do I like them so much? I think it’s a family thing. My mother was fond of roses and transferred that love to me and all my sisters. My Melbourne sister’s roses are fabulous. She has an old Peace rose in her front garden under planted with lavender. My American sister also has the bug and her mid-west garden is full of roses. My Sydney sister is a devoted Australian native garden so she keeps all her roses in pots where they bloom their heads off. Her Icebergs are a joy to behold.

QElizabeth

Queen Elizabeth

teacupOne of my earliest memories was lying on the grass in the backyard and gazing up at the drooping buds of a climbing Lorraine Lee which, along with Queen Elizabeth, were among the most popular roses in most garden in the nineteen fifties and sixties.  Inside, my mother was probably having afternoon tea on her Royal Doulton ‘Bouquet’ tea set with her tennis buddies.

mad menAll sounds very Mad Men doesn’t it?  There was more than a touch of the suburban family slowly imploding which is how I developed my writer’s skill of observing the undercurrents. Beautiful roses and lovely china can hide a wealth of family secrets. Cue to a scene with wilting roses and the dank, sour smell of stale flower water. A door bangs in the wind but the silence continues, becoming unbearable, endless. Our heroine creeps in, determined to … Sorry, I digress. Back to roses.

When I first became a home owner, I want a big garden full of roses and flowering perennials. On the whole that’s what I’ve got. Along the way I’ve begun to appreciate Australian natives and have increasing numbers in my garden, but really, my first love is and always will be, roses.

Old fashioned ones like The Apothecary Rose  (one of the oldest roses in the world) a species rose I’ve forgotten the name of, to my gorgeous Double Delight.  My latest purchase is an Albertine rose  which is a big monster with fragrant pinky-apricot blooms in spring. I’m going to plant it on a trellis on the north-east side of my back deck where it will grow up and block the summer sun (I hope).

There are at least two romance writers I know who grow wonderful roses. Fiona Lowe in Victoria and Kandy Shepherd in the Blue Mountains. I’ve seen Kandy’s garden which is fabulous.

Another garden out my way is Chapel House in Rydal about 15km west of Lithgow. If you’re looking for a wedding spot this is the one.

And if you ever travel to Paris, make sure you go to the Chateau de Bagatelle, in the Bois de Boulogne which is thoroughly charming.

tattooThere you are. A rose obsessive. Now if I was really clever I’d combine my rose love with something a bit more racy like a rose tattoo. But I’m a wimp so you’ll have to make do with the fantasy.

After quite a few years working in the criminal justice system, Keziah Hill and her alter ego Deborah Tait, decided a tree change was needed so decamped to the blissful Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, Australia. Amid a garden full of flowering blossoms, roses and the odd marauding possum, she writes steamy erotic romance and romantic suspense while trying not to procrastinate too much. Her work is available at most digital bookshops.

Business with Pleasure available on Kindle |  Moonlit Encounters available from your e-retailer of choice. See Deborah Tait’s website for links.

brand-new shiny Fan Girl Friday !!!!

Welcome to my brand-new column for 2013!  It’s called Fan Girl Friday and here’s how it works.  Friday is the day I rave about something I love – it can be a song, a book, a movie, a product, a website… anything!  And so no-one gets bored hearing me go on about stuff I love (although there are many, many things I *squeeee* girlishly about!) I’ve invited a bunch of writer friends to guest blog about their fangirl loves too.  So you need to follow the blog and make sure you check in every Friday for a new post.

So, seeing as today is my very first post, I’m taking the wheel and waxing lyrical about my latest favorite TV show and one of its fabulous actors.

four evil Roman emperors

Horrible Histories
My son and I stumbled across this BBC program before Christmas and we are totally addicted to it.  I’m familiar with the books by Terry Deary, which teach kids history with all the yucky bits (like beheadings, plague and poo) kept in.  But the TV series, I think, is way more fun.  It’s a comedy sketch show, featuring actors Jim Howick, Mathew Bayton, Ben Willbond, Martha Howe-Douglas, Simon Farnaby and Laurence Rickard, who play all the characters – from Charles II, Henry VIII, vikings, Elizabeth I, plague victims and more.  I love history, but I can tell you I’ve learned more in these last few months than years at school 😀  And with a score of BAFTAs and Brit Comedy Awards up their sleeves, it’s not hard to tell why.  It’s funny, clever and extremely entertaining, a historical lesson with a modern telling.  Kinda Python-esque, which appeals to adults as well as teaching kids in a fun way, with headings such as Slimy Stuarts, Cut-throat Celts, Terrible Tudors, Vicious Vikings, and Measly Middle Ages.  Their only guideline is they cannot lie about the historical detail.  And thanks to the genius series songwriter Dave Cohen, they also rework popular songs into hilarious versions to suit the characters, like Charles Darwin singing Natural Selection to the tune of David Bowie’s Changes.  Or a bunch of Victorian children with a different take on Food, Glorious Food (reworked as Work, Terrible Work).  Or my two favorites: Dick Turpin with a reworked Adam Ant’s Stand and Deliver and King Charles II’s homage to Eminem’s My Name Is… rap (this one I’ve been singing constantly for the last two weeks :grin:).  I love all the actors, but I’m here to tell you about one in particular – actor and singer, Mat Baynton.

yes, I will do anything you ask, just keep looking at me like that…

Just look at him. :sigh:   No, really, LOOK AT HIM!!!  I could just take him home and stare at his lovely , expressive face for ever… although I suspect he may find that just a tad too creepy disturbing unnerving.  In a HH cast interview, when asked what made the show so successful, fellow castmate Larry Rickard admitted “Matt’s eyes.  They’re minstrel eyes.”  Can I get a hell, yeah?

Another fellow actor Jim Howick has said that Mat is the backbone of their show and it’s not hard to see why when you see him in the show.  And yes, as you can imagine, he has quite a fandom on Twitter, plus a mass of Facebook and Tumblr fan sites.  There’s also a following called ‘baybond’, which is a collection of photos and gifs showing the onscreen bromance between him and fellow HHer Ben Willbond… o.O

Here he is playing the totally dreamy Dick Turpin (I suspect casting him to convince people the violent highwayman was no hero slightly backfired here).  And bonus – all the Horrible Histories songs come as an added extra on the DVDs, so I can watch this over and over… which I have.  I admit my addiction and find no shame in that.

His other roles in the show include a caveman, a French peasant, a camp fashionista, snobby Victorian, a Celtic warrior rapping with Jim Howick in ‘Boast Battle‘.  Here’s a few shots of him:

And because you can never have enough Mat, here’s my bestest song of all time, with King Charles II as the King of Bling (phwoar!).

Apart from Horrible Histories, Mat has also acted in Gavin & Stacey, Ashes to Ashes and Peep Show, plus he features in the new Brit sitcom, Spy (just starting here in Australia), about a single father who inadvertently gets recruited by MI5 (Mat plays best friend Chris). Oh, and he’s also starred in a few music videos – Listening Man by The Bees (I loooove this clip!!)  and Dan by Grovesnor (you can buy the Listening Man vid on iTunes but sadly, not Dan which is quite annoying because he looks so damn fit in that clip!).

King Charles loves a good danceBut wait – there’s more!  Mat’s also a solo artist, under the name of Dog Ears.  If you like your indie music with a melancholy feel to it, you can take a listen here and also download the EP for a bargain £2.50.  I wish I lived in the UK and could actually see him perform live… 😦

So there’s my fan girl moment!  Now, excuse me while I go and watch King Charles sing and dance, because oh, happy day, there could be a Horrrible Histories movie in the future!!!  Party, anyone?