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Friday, February 27, 2009

Hero Material: Clive Owen

Nowadays Clive Owen is a big thing in Hollywood: he’s made the A-list, all of his movies are blockbusters and he’s one of Britain’s favourite exports in Tinseltown. Once upon a time though, Owen was just a normal lad from Coventry with a passion for acting.

Like many of today’s actors, Owen started out in theatre, wowing audiences at a school production of Oliver! with his portrayal of the Artful Dodger. He went on to follow his ambitions and joined the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art for a three-year period, during which time he starred in numerous Shakespeare plays and built up a solid resume. Sticking with the field, following his graduation from the academy he joined the Young Vic Theatre Company and continued to appear on stage. His youthful good looks and his genuine acting ability made him a natural lead, and during a production of Romeo and Juliet, in which he essayed the title role, he fell in love with the actress playing opposite him, Sarah-Jane Fenton. The two have been together ever since, marrying in 1995. They now have two daughters.

During the late 1980s, Owen started appearing in low-budget films and television series, including the 1988 movie Vroom in which he starred opposite Harry Potter actor David Thewlis. Still in his twenties, Owen then found fame playing Stephen Crane in TV’s Chancer in 1990. His bad-boy-tries-to-be-good character oozed charisma and confidence and won him a whole legion of female fans.

However, Owen made a decision to abandon his Alpha male character at the peak of the TV show’s popularity and instead he appeared in the film Close My Eyes alongside Alan Rickman. Owen’s decision to play a man having an incestuous affair with his sister was a brave one that cost him: the public turned off in droves and film work dried up. Undeterred, the star returned to the stage, appearing in a mix of plays and TV series.

The late 1990s saw even more controversy for the star, this time on the stage. He’d started hitting the big time by appearing in the likes of Closer, a bleak look at modern-day relationships which he later filmed with Julia Roberts.

His next role, in a production of Nazi war camp drama Bent, saw him as a reckless young gay man who found love inside a prison camp. However, the old saying that “no publicity is bad publicity” held true, and 1998 saw Owen cast in the lead role of the Mike Hodges movie, Croupier. This was a stylish thriller in which Owen played a casino employee who runs afoul of a femme fatale. The movie played to Owen’s strengths and won him fans across the pond in America, paving the way for his Hollywood career.

Over the next five years, Owen worked hard in all sorts of genres. He was a detective in the short-lived Second Sight miniseries, a prisoner in the low budget British rom-com Greenfingers and a BMV driver in a series of cool car-chase adverts directed by Hollywood luminaries like John Frankenheimer, Ang Lee, Tony Scott, John Woo and Guy Ritchie. Then he starred appearing in big films as a supporting player; he’s a hitman with a heart in The Bourne Identity and turns up in Robert Altman’s ensemble-cast-murder-mystery, Gosford Park. Mike Hodges also cast him again in 2003’s I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, a modern-day reworking of the director’s classic Get Carter.

2004 was the year that made Clive Owen. He hit the big time with his manly portrayal of King Arthur in the film with the same name and cemented his reputation as a bankable Hollywood leading man. At the same time, the filmed version of his play Closer saw him winning a BAFTA award for best supporting actor, providing he COULD act as well as look good on screen. Since then, he’s alternated between supporting roles in huge films (Sin City’s Dwight, Elizabeth: The Golden Age’s Sir Walter Raleigh) and leading roles in quirky films (sci-fi epic Children of Men, Spike Lee’s bank heist thriller Inside Man). He’s also made a neat sideline in thrillers, putting in a memorable turn opposite Jennifer Aniston in the dark Derailed.

Clive Owen is back on the big screens right now, starring with Naomi Watts in The International, a tense thriller in which he attempts to bring down the corrupt big banks. With proven acting skills and a rugged handsomeness that makes him an ever-favourite with the ladies, he’s an actor who looks to be around for a long time to come.

Thanks, Gray. You've reminded me why I've always loved Clive Owen - first as an actor, and now as our hero inspiration for Matt. I'm waiting, purely in the name of research (of course), for you to take me to see Clive's latest movie.

Come back next week for Gray's article about our heroine inspiration: Melissa George.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Nothing else matters

and to make this post 'writerly', Lee Mead was my hero inspiration for our last Medical (even though 'offically' the pic was one of Ioan Gruffudd), and I wrote the majority of my scenes to Lee's debut album.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mills and Boon has launched a protest

against a sign which Virgin Rail installed at a Cheshire railway station this week.

A Virgin spokesman commented: "If people wish to spend a little more time with their loved ones before they leave, then they should park in the short-stay car park nearby".

"It's our right to kiss where we like," say Mills & Boon on the protest group's Facebook site. “Romantic embraces and passionate kisses are a vital part of life and should never be discouraged. We don't believe that you should restrict passion to certain times or areas. Lovers should be free to express their feelings whenever the mood takes them.”

If you're annoyed by the breach of our fundamental right to kiss in public, please download the posters, join the twitter activists and upload photos of you kissing at stations here and on our Flickr group. Join our fight and kiss goodbye to no kissing.

Join M&B's protest by joining their Facebook group here and follow them on Twitter.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

At the Beginning...again.

That's where Gray and I are with our new contemporary romance. Deep in revisions of our last medical romance (Beth & Josh's story) I couldn't wait to see the back of it. Now I yearn for the comfort of being back within those familiar pages because I knew exactly where I was going with it. It felt safe and secure and that's a nice feeling.

So, I've spent the last couple of weeks 'brewing' on what to do next. At first I felt excited. I'd finally put the finishing touches to a manuscript that I'd been writing/working on for the past fifteen months. Yep, that's over a year. That's a long time to live with a story, both plot-wise and character-wise.

It's only now that I've completed a manuscript that I truly understand what an author friend means when she tells me how she always feels sad to say goodbye to her characters when she's finished their story. It's hard to leave those characters behind and move on to the next. I can no longer let them interrupt 'that' part of my brain that's always listening for their feelings and actions.

Well, my mind has been hunting around like a lost soul ever since. Truth is I didn't have a clue what I wanted to work on next - after all, there's no guarantee that M&B will even request a full of the medical. In which case, would that mean that my/our voice is wrong for that series? Perhaps we should go back to my unfinished Romance (that was 2007's contribution to the RNA's NWS) or perhaps return to our, as yet unfinished, Presents entry? And so my questions continued.

Eventually I decided that the only way to stop my procrastination about what to do next was to start a brand-new, shiny story - plots, characters and everything. BUT, there's a teeny, tiny problem with this when you aren't writing solo. You need the co-operation of your writing partner (aka Gray) who you've forgotten to consult before making *your* decision. Having memory loss doesn't cut it.

A few days later...

Gray has come across my old memory stick (note to self: stop losing things!) and he discovered that back in 2006 I'd written over 30k on my own (aka without any collaboration) of a medical manuscript. He couldn't believe it, and neither could I (yes, my memory is that bad). I'd even incorporated tonnes of relevant research. That was when I remembered a little (well, I still have all the receipts to prove how much I'd spent on that research, so I could hardly forget forever, could I?). 2006 was when my own health situation became harder and suddenly all things medical became too much for me to handle in my writing as well. The fact that my manuscript had also entered the 'sagging middle' stage hadn't helped, so that's why Gray found 30k and not 50k of that effort.

Another day later...

Imagine my surprise when Gray overrules *my* decision and insists that it would be criminal to waste all the work I did back in 2006, and the only solution is to rework it for our next work-in-progress...

Present day aka NOW...

The debate was interesting, and Gray's powers-of-persuasion are second to none...so...


Matt and Kate are back!
(aka Clive Owen & Melissa George)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

ATTENTION: Reader/Writers in the UK

Launch Of The New Romantics - Seven Authors Offer A Year Of Free Love

A very decent proposal from the brand new New Romantics: win a year's worth of romantic fiction.

To the relief of cynics and singletons the world over, Valentine's Day is over for another year. But seven best-selling authors who believe that romance isn't just for February 14 are offering the chance for two readers to win free love of the literary kind for an entire year.

To mark the launch of The New Romantics – a collective of authors devoted to promoting contemporary romantic fiction – the authors will send the winners one love story per month...

This group brings together seven British authors of novels exploring love in all its forms. Jojo Moyes, Kate Harrison, Lucy Diamond, Matt Dunn, Milly Johnson, Sarah Duncan and Veronica Henry write in a wide range of topics and styles, from laugh-out-loud romantic comedy to intense love stories and relationship tales from the male point-of-view.

They've launched the New Romantics to champion the cause of commercial fiction with a heart – the perfect antidote to the credit crunch. They'll be promoting their genre through events, reading group campaigns and online promotions.

The group's first public event will be a debate comparing contemporary romantic fiction, with the love stories of the past, at Richmond-upon-Thames in April. More details will soon be available on the website.

More information on The New Romantics:

Between them, the New Romantics have published thirty novels, in seventeen countries (including Brazil, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Malaysia, Portugal, Russia, and Spain). Their books have won or been shortlisted for awards including the Romantic Novelists' Association Novel of the Year, the Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance, and the Good Housekeeping Book Award.


For your own happy-ever-after, describe your most memorable New Romantic moment in 100 words or less, and email it to freelove@thenewromantics.org by April 5 2009. This competition is open to all UK residents.

Terms & Conditions can be found here

Best of luck to everybody who enters.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire's Pleasure

So many fabulous authors to choose from (including Kate Hardy) that it makes you feel sorry for the judges that there can only be one winner.

Still on the topic of the RNA congratulations also go to

Richard Armitage

for taking the title of:

Sexiest Thing on Two Legs 2009
(Valentine's Poll)

Wow, what a week this is for celebration in the Romance Community!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Here's where I'm/We're at...

Firstly, I'm still here (as is Gray). Secondly, we're both still writing, although I should say that I've struggled these past months with the written word.

I still have health issues, and I still struggle with them on a daily/hourly basis. BUT, I'm getting better about not being so hard on myself (some days, anyway! *vbg*).

The biggest change for me is that I'm no longer living a 'virtual' existence (i.e. on the 'net). I'm so busy getting to know fellow villagers, learning new crafts, writing, reading (and the list continues) that now, more than ever before, there's not enough time in the day.

For these reasons, I'm still here but more in spirit than 'real' time. I'm missing keeping up with the many friends I've made in the wonderful writing/reading communities, but the great thing is knowing that these friendships are still around as and when we 'bump' into each other whether in the 'virtual' or 'real' world.

So, that's where I'm at right now. Enjoying life in our new home, learning new crafts (currently these include weaving and encaustic art), and writing. I'm going to be working on ideas for the next story soon for my RNA NWS submission and when I've found the character inspirations I'll be sure to post them here.

Happy reading and writing everybody - and take care in whatever spectrum of weather you're experiencing.