Friday, December 01, 2006

Party Post 19: Ally Blake

When Ally was a little girl she made a wish that when she turned twenty-six she would marry an Italian two years older than her. After it actually came true she realised she was onto something with these wish things.
So, next she wished that she could make a living spending her days in her pyjamas, eating M&Ms and drinking scads of coffee while turning her formative experiences of wallowing in teenaged crushes and romantic movies into creating love stories of her own. The fact that she is now able to spend her spare time Googling pictures of handsome guys for research purposes is merely a bonus!

Come along and visit her website at

All I Want for Christmas... is a tall, dark, handsome stranger

Two years ago my husband and I took a two week trip to
Italy. He is of Italian descent and ever since I saw The Godfather I wanted to marry a man of Italian descent. So a trip to Italy for the pair of us was a no-brainer.
I went with great plans to write a book set there. Because:
a) Italian heroes are ever popular – no argument from me.
b) it would make the trip a write off – boy do I love this job!
c) it would give me a perfect excuse to ogle handsome strangers while still in my husband’s company! (Seriously, the partners of romance writers really should be given awards, back rubs and condolences for what they have to put up with on that front;))
My heroine, Gracie Lane, was set, as this was the third book in a trilogy about three girls living in a beach side suburb of my home town Melbourne. And I knew she was going to Rome to find her long lost father. I, on the other hand, was going to Rome to find her hero.
Luca Siracusa was an enigma to me. I had a fuzzy image in my head. Okay, so the fuzzy image looked a fair bit like the heavenly Raoul Bova from Under the Tuscan Sun. But that was all I had. So as we traversed the length and breadth of that beeeeautiful country, I was on the look out for real, flesh and blood, Italian hunks to fill out my two-dimensional hero.
Would I find him chatting up girls on the Spanish Steps in Rome? Would I find him posing for a photograph pretending to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Or would I find him sitting back in a café on Capri drinking an espresso with the sun on his face?
I thought I’d found him in Verona, a city full of beautiful people, in which the locals promenade the twining cobbled streets in fur coats, and designer clothes and elegant suits just because they can. The crowd parted to reveal a little girl in a navy velvet dress with white lace cuffs, white stocking, patent shoes and a blue bow in her ringlets. And on the other end of her hand was a man. Tall, dark, and handsome, even from the back ;). He wore a coat that floated behind him like a cape as he carefully led his daughter through the busy street. I kept a close eye on him, taking heed of his movement, his walk, the tilt of his head before I lost him in the crowd.
I used all of that in my book in the end. But it still wasn’t enough. I knew what he looked like, I knew how he walked, I knew how moving it would be to see such a gorgeous man taking such care of a delightful little girl. But I didn’t know him.
As I sat on the steps of the magnificent Trevi Fountain when we returned to Rome for the last days of our trip, alone, with my notebook and pen in hand, while my husband went off in search of cappuccinos, there were people everywhere; tourists throwing coins, local men selling bottle openers emblazoned with the Pope’s face, pairs of nuns sifting through the bottle openers, gypsies “giving away” one Euro roses.
I closed my eyes and let the sounds and scents and feel of Italy wash over me. And when I opened them there he was. Tall, dark, handsome, Italian...ish and holding out a cappuccino he’d gone searching for, on his own, for me, with little more local language in his vocabulary than “ciao” and “mamma mia”.
Of all my heroes Luca has the most of my husband in him; his kindness, selflessness, his innate style, and natural smarts, and of course his irresistible gorgeousness ;).
But I have no complaints about travelling the world over to find what I had under my very nose. I mean come on, I got to see the statue of David up close and personal! But that’s a whole other book...
Where else to find heroes...
The Pink Heart Society is the daily destination for lovers of category romance. In search of a hero? Come to Male on Monday, our most popular destination, and no wonder! With breakdowns and pictures galore of new beautiful men every week – Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Paul Newman to name a few of my favourites – you could never be short on hero inspiration!
A MOTHER FOR HIS DAUGHTER” is a Silhouette Romance release in North America this December.
To go into the draw to win an autographed copy of Ally’s preceding novel, “HOW TO MARRY A BILLIONAIRE”, featuring some of the same characters from her current novel, leave a comment at the end of this post!


Anonymous said...

Ah Ally, you take me back. Was it only two months ago I was basking under a Positano sun? It feels like a hundred years now and I've just finished writing my beautful Bendetteo too.

And a big aw shucks to finding your hero right under your nose.

But that photo - OMG. I nearly electrocuted myself from all the slobber on my keyboard. Really, you need to post a warning before pictures like that. Something like - warning, the following picture will cause heart flutter, asthma and loss of the ability to swallow leading to excess drool. GET A PLASTIC COVER FOR YOUR KEYBOARD!!!!

Hmm, very dishy.

Jennifer Y. said...

All I Want for Christmas... is a tall, dark, handsome stranger

Doesn't sound like such a bad wish...especially with that pic of Raoul Bova there.

Liz said...

Wish my wishes came true like that

Fiona Lowe said...

Oh! Oh! I DO like that photo of that gorgeous man! And I've actually seen that film :-)

So glad you have your tall, dark and handsome 'stranger' to cuddle up with.

Minna said...

I think I need a plastic cover for my keyboard, too.

Maureen said...

It sounds like a wonderful trip and it was all in the name of research.

Ally Blake said...

Thanks guys!!!

Do you ever picture movie stars as the hoeroes in romance novels? Do you cast books as you read them? And if you do, who do you tend to imagine more than anyone else?

I'd love to know!!!


Anonymous said...

Ally, you are so lucky - I have always wanted to visit Italy. The history, the weather and the men. What more do you need?

Meljprincess said...

What a great story, Ally. I was in Italy in '84 and had a wonderful time. I visited Trevi Fountain and tossed in a coin. However, I haven't been back. My Sis did the same and she did go back. I went to Florence, Venice and Rome.
I WISH I lived in Europe.

Anonymous said...

I tossed a coin in 92 and we just went back so hang in there meljprincess, it could still happen.

Cast my hero's all the time, Ally. Not my heroines so much - there all just me, only thinner ;-)

Anonymous said...

That was a wonderful post :) Thanks for sharing.

J said...

I love Italian heroes. They're so charming, passionate and exciting.

Unknown said...

I do not usually picture movie stars as heroes.

You are so fortunate to have been to Italy. And even more blessed to have your own hero at home.

Angela/SciFiChick said...

mmm... I reminisce about my trip to Italy everytime I see scenes from movies or read other's stories. It definitely had more of an impact on me than any other place in the world. I need to go back someday soon!

robynl said...

"I closed my eyes and let the sounds and scents and feel of Italy wash over me. And when I opened them there he was. Tall, dark, handsome, Italian..."

Right before your eyes and right under your nose- marvelous. But you also have the trip of memories to add. What a wonderful trip.

Joan said...

Happy Holidays!!! Yes Ally, you need to post a warning with this blog. I some times see super stars in the role for a book hero like Noah Wiley from ER. I don't usually cast for book unless a charcter just screams it. I always put myself into the herios role for some reason. Guys, love them but most go for the Italian, Eurporeans, Americans, Spainish and some South Americas/island

Estella said...

I would love to go to Italy!

Rashmi said...

Growing up, a TDHS was my dream too! I've got one now, so I'm truly happy :-)

CrystalGB said...

What a wonderful post. I love how you found your hero.

Jennifer Y. said...

Do you ever picture movie stars as the hoeroes in romance novels? Do you cast books as you read them? And if you do, who do you tend to imagine more than anyone else?

I do this often...some actors who I cast quite often are Adrian Paul, Hugh Jackman, Josh Lucas, Christian Bale, Matthew McConnaughey, etc. Occassionally it is difficult to figure out who I would cast and I just form my own picture of the hero.

Ally Blake said...

I'm with you Joyce, I don't cast my heroes when reading either. They all tend to look like the same guy I created in my head way back when I first read all of Dick Francis's novels. I never moved beyond him!

Yet I always cast them when writing about them. Funny old business this one!

And Jennifer Y sure picked a nice bunch to use if one did wish to imagaine somebody real ;).


catslady said...

I would love to visit Sicily since that's where all my ancestors came from.

I never imagine real people when I read - I don't know why lol.

Nalini Singh said...

catslady - I'm a bit like that. If I think of real people, I start thinking of their real lives as opposed to the characters.

Thanks for the eye candy, Ally :)

Jennifer Y. said...

I usually wait until after I have read the book to figure out who I would cast in a movie version...because like you said Nalini, I would start thinking about their real lives, but I do cast the books sometimes like I mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Ahh Italy, Italy, Italy...I fell in love, yes deep, enduring love, with my waiter in Venice (who got a 5 euro tip for his yummy...everything - and waved me off with a 'ciao bella!' I floated on that for days), with the bus driver in Pisa (who turned and gave the sweetest smile and pointed out the stop for the leaning tower of pisa) and with the construction worker in Rome (who neither smiled nor waved, just drilled away - shirtless, sweaty and unspeakably gorgeously!). So yeah, I would totally identify with your experience Ally, doesnt EVERYONE just want to live in Italy when they see it?