Saturday, July 21, 2012

Guest Blogger: Author Fiona Harper

The next guest blogger on my Romance Author Extravaganza is the fabulously imaginative Fiona Harper, who happens to be doing a giveaway. Take it away, Fiona!

Guilty pleasures…we all have them. Aside from chocolate, mine often come under the heading ‘trashy telly’.

Don’t get me wrong, I love watching documentaries and dramas and rip-roaring adventure and crime shows, but there’s something about the writer in me that LOVES reality TV. I suppose it’s like taking my love of sitting in cafes watching people go by to the max. You get access into bits of people’s lives you’d never be able see when they’re walking down the street. You get to peel back the surface layer and see what motivates those outrageous or surprising things they do.

But I tell myself it’s not really numbing my brain. After all, I’m a writer, and I write character-based stories. Surely I can learn something from each of these shows…

Here are my top three guilty TV pleasures:

1. Survivor
I’d much rather watch a reality TV show where people are put to the test, have to do things that are outside their comfort zone, rather than watching them sit around back-biting. I love the sheer physical challenge of Survivor, but add in all the scheming and the alliances… it’s pure TV gold. My only complaint is that they DON’T SHOW IT IN THE UK! I’ve had to resort to buying the DVDs, so there are plenty of seasons I’ve missed. Sob.

From a writer’s point of view this show is pure gold. Writer of Story, Robert McKee, says that true character shows up when people are under pressure. One of the best bits about Survivor is the fact you never know who is going to surprise you by being strong and loyal and dig deep and find it within themselves to do things they’d never thought they do. And sometimes you never see those dastardly betrayals coming!

Most memorable moment: wanting to throw stuff at the screen when Boston Rob made a deal with Lex to save Amber and then reneged on it, going on to win the show…

2. The Real Housewives of New York
I only caught up with this show a year or so ago. I started watching because I knew I was going to the RWA conference in NY and was very excited about anything to do with the city. Didn’t take me long to get sucked into all the drama that naturally occurs when strong women with colourful personalities get together.

From a writing point of view, this was great for seeing real multi-layered conflict. I can often see both sides of the arguments that occur between the cast, can see why those people are upset, why they believe what they believe and how, when the other person is coming from a totally different place, it can cause conflict that can’t always be solved by a sit down chat over a cup of coffee.

Most memorable moment: Bethenney and Jill’s fight. Is it wrong that I still want them to make up and be friends again?

3. Judge Judy
What can I say? I love the woman. Nothing gets past her. Nothing. And the relentless trail of people suing each other for various things are also fascinating. How often is the lawsuit not about the money but about something else? Principles, revenge, venting at a friend or a lover who has moved on… Why people bring their cases is almost as interesting as the cases themselves.

The writing bonus I’ve got from this show is reading body language. I am getting much, much better at working out who is telling porkies (I’m a Londoner, so translation: pork pies = lies) and who is on the up-and-up. Judge Judy always has their measure before I do, but I’ve realised that people really do give guilty smiles. There’s often a moment when Judge Judy will confront the person who is lying through their teeth with the truth and they give themselves away. Sometimes they laugh, sometimes the smirk, and often it’s only a split-second of a reaction before they rearrange their features and carry on. And it’s totally different to the kind of laugh an honest person gives when they can’t believe what the other person is saying. You watch it and you’ll see it yourself!

Most memorable moment: any time the judge says, “I don’t give a rat’s behind about…”

So, what are your guilty TV pleasures, and why do you love them so much? I’m going to a draw to give away a copy of my latest release Always The Best Man to one of the people who comments on this blog!

Be sure to comment before midnight on 24 July (US Pacific time zone) to get your name in the drawing.

I’m going to be in Anaheim this week for the RWA national conference. I’m taking part in the Readers for Life Literacy signing at the Anaheim Convention Centre of Wednesday 25th July from 5 – 7 p.m. 800 West Katella Ave, Anaheim. Drop by and say “hi” and pick up some books to help a really worthwhile charity too!


  1. I can't get enough of Dance Moms (basically a reality show about stage moms for those who don't know.) It's so bad it's good. But the girls really are amazing dancers, so it's got that redeeming quality - or so I tell myself. Hehe.

  2. The bachelor/Bachelorette. Because I'm hopeless romantic.
    The Biggest Loser. I can be happy that I'm not THAT fat.

  3. I have a few guilty pleasures and some of them are TV-based! Not reality TV - which all seems to be cooking shows here in NZ, and I mean all - but I watch all the american cop-type shows - Castle, Unforgettable and I was literally just about to start watching Rizzoli and Isles, which may not *cough* be legally available here. But I can't feel too guilty when they're either based on novels, short stories or around writers, can I?!

  4. I can't get enough of those American crime thrillers with the hunky heroes (Bones, Castle... - there's also the romance between the lead characters in those!) but my real guilty pleasures are probably all reality shows based on food and cooking. I'll watch them, drool over the food, save the recipes and then forget all about them. I keep telling myself, one of these days I'm going to attempt one of those dishes...

  5. Congratulations Jo Fereday! You've won the giveaway. I will let Fiona know and we'll sort out the logistics - getting it to you. Happy reading!!!

    1. Thanks Libby! I LOVE Fiona's books - I think I've only got two more of hers to read before I've read all her published Mills and Boons - so winning the new book is a real treat!