Sunday, July 08, 2007

Kathleen Woodiwiss June 3, 1939 - July 6, 2007

Do you have a copy of this book on your shelf?
The romance pioneer has died. Is there a romance reader out there who has never read Kathleen's Woodiwiss's The Wolf and the Dove or The Flame and the Flower? Kathleen's son, Heath reported her death from cancer as well as news that the family and her publisher are working to bring her last book to print. Here's what Wikipedia says about Kathleen.....

Kathleen Erin Hogg was born on June 3, 1939 in Alexandria, Louisiana, the youngest of eight children of Charles Wingrove Hogg, a disabled World War I veteran, and his wife. As a child, Woodiwiss relished creating her own stories, and by age six was telling herself stories at night to help herself fall asleep. Her father died suddenly when Woodiwiss was only twelve, leaving her to be raised by her mother and older sisters. Woodiwiss would later remark that, "every single one of us had minds of our own even then; I was no exception. I suppose that carried over into my creations of heroines who weren't weak-willed."

At age 16, she met U.S. Air Force Second Lieutenant Ross Woodiwiss at a dance, and they married the following year. His military career led them to live in Japan, where Woodiwiss worked part-time as a fashion model for an American-owned modeling agency. After three and a half years in Japan, the family moved to Topeka, Kansas. During these years, Woodiwiss attempted to begin a novel several times, but each time stopped in frustration at the slow pace of writing a novel longhand. After buying her husband an electric typewriter for a Christmas present, Woodiwiss appropriated the machine to begin her novel in earnest.

Her debut novel, The Flame and the Flower, was rejected by agents and hardcover publishers as being too long at 600 pages. Rather than follow the advice of the rejection letters and rewrite the novel, Woodiwiss instead submitted it to paperback publishers. The first publisher on her list, Avon, quickly purchased the novel and arranged an initial 500,000 print run. The Flame and the Flower, was revolutionary, featuring an epic historical romance with a strong heroine and actual sex scenes. This novel, published in 1972, sold over 2.3 million copies in its first four years of publication and is credited with spawning the modern romance genre, becoming the first romance novel "to [follow] the principals into the bedroom."

The success of this novel prompted a new style of writing romance, concentrating primarily on historical fiction tracking the monogamous relationship between a helpless heroines and the hero who rescued her, even if he had been the one to place her in danger. The romance novels which followed in her example featured longer plots, more controversial situations and characters, and more intimate and steamy sex scenes.

Many modern romance novelists cite Woodiwiss as their inspiration. Julia Quinn remarked that "Woodiwiss made women want to read. She gave them an alternative to Westerns and hard-boiled police procedurals. When I was growing up, I saw my mother and grandmother reading and enjoying romances, and when I was old enough to read them myself, I felt as if I had been admitted into a special sisterhood of reading women."

Woodiwiss has since published twelve best-selling romance novels, of which over thirty-six million copies are in print. Woodiwiss is known for the quality of her novels rather than the quantity of works which she publishes. She often takes 4-5 years to write a single novel. In some cases, Woodiwiss attributes the lag in publication time to personal and health issues, while in others she confesses to having suffered burnout and needing a rest to recover her interest in writing.

All of her novels are historical romances, set in varied backgrounds, including the American Civil War, 18th-century England, or Saxony in the time of William the Conqueror. The heroines of the novels are strong-willed young women with "a spark of life and determination." Woodiwiss describes her novels as "fairy tales. They are an escape for the reader, like an Errol Flynn movie."

Woodiwiss is an avid horseman who at one time lived in a large home on 55 acres in Minnesota. After her husband's death, she moved her permanent residence to Louisiana. She has three sons, Sean, Dorren, and Heath, and numerous grandchildren. Her next book, Everlasting is set for release in late October of 2007.

1 comment:

  1. It's so sad that Kathleen Woodiwiss has died. I read her books when they first came out and I loved them all!! She is probably my favorite romance author.