I wanted to write a Funny Girl. After Jean Harlow walked in and took over last time, I resisted Old Hollywood. But the lure of the 60's sex-comedy was too strong, and honestly, Rock Hudson was made to play the Presents hero. He's huge, he's got that rock hard jaw and an ironic twinkle in his eye as if to say What the hell am I doing in this story, aren't I supposed to be running the world? I gave my heroine, Rose, Doris's professional virgin shtick and lovely little wool suits.
"Giant" provided enormous inspiration. Beneath the sweet, persuasive Leslie played by Elizabeth Taylor was a steely, get-her-own-way woman who often seemed to be circling Rock Hudson's Bick as if working out how to get a lasso around him and bring him down to size. Rose needed gumption to take on Plato, I gave her a little Liz Taylor.
I was set on writing a romance using metaphor. After a few rounds with "Giant" I thought it would be fun to spoof the western idiom. Once I took that riding a bull metaphor in hand I was off, and Rose and Plato came along for the ride.
My hero Plato owns an ice hockey team. Where do they play ice hockey? Canada, I discovered. So I did exactly what Rose does in the book, I put a pin in a map and chose Toronto as the setting. I put a little gold pen in Rose's hand, set her loose at a press conference and sat back to watch the fun. I gave Rose four big brothers - count 'em - and you can just imagine what that does to a girl. I gave her an ex-fiancÚ who ground her sexual self-confidence into powder beneath his fake cowboy boots and then I put her into Plato's orbit - Plato's six foot six, all brooding, take-charge male - and watched him contort himself into shapes he didn't recognise to make Rose happy.
As far as I'm concerned if the hero's prime aim in life isn't to make the girl's life happy what's the point of a romance novel?
One of the scenes I most enjoyed writing was when Plato drops her home and she slams the door on him and he stands beside his super-duper Ferrari across the road watching her light upstairs go on, and a jogger asks him what in the hell he thinks he's doing and Plato wonders the same.
I had a fabulous time writing Rose as she bowled around stamping her feet, coming up with ever more bizarre bull roping metaphors and trying to get that rope around Plato.
Signature Song: The Yellow Rose of Texas, any version (mandatory to sing along)