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From Page to Reality: the Real-life Love Story Behind the Romance Novels

Have you ever thought about a romance author's true-life romance? Are they all sunshine and rainbows and the stuff of romance novels? Do you know why the friends-to-lovers tropes is one of my favourites?


It’s been a weird old month.


Most of the time I simply squirrel away with my writing and my life. Apart from the wonderful readers who love my book and my friends and family, no-one much pays attention to lil’ old me. That’s no complaint. Most of the time I like flying under the radar, but this month, something changed. I was called by not one, but TWO journalists to talk about…


A couple in an embrace. The woman (with dark hair) is smiling. The man's face is partially obscured behind the woman. Words on the image: From Page to Reality

The friends-to-lovers romance between me and my husband.


I adore the story of how Mr A and I got together. Retelling our love story always make me smile, and give me all the feels. It’s one of the reasons why the friends-to-lovers trope is my fave, but journalists asking me to tell it to a wider world? That was new.


The first call might have been explicable, I was sitting on a library panel with some other romance authors and the editor of a local paper advertising the event wanted to chat about me and my writing for promo, but then looked at my website bio and thought there might be a more human angle.


The second was out of left field, a journalist from an independent paper in the UK who saw a post on Twitter (I refuse to call it X) and asked if I wanted to tell our story. 'Sure!' was my answer. I was happy to, because it’s a goodie.


After we’d spoken she said, ‘It sounds like something out of a romance novel!’

Funny that, me being a romance author and all. From page, to real life… You might not believe it if you read it. So here it is.


Our own love story

My husband and I met at university. There were a group of friends who used to sit having lunch every day in the same spot. I was the only female in a bunch of males. Those friendships remained strong through our studies. Mr A was one of the group. We were all truly, only friends. I had a boyfriend at the time and absolutely no romantic interest in any of the males I hung out with at uni. Though funnily enough, when someone in first year asked me who I thought the best looking guy was, I named my husband. He was the clear winner with a gorgeous smile and a real young Tom Cruise vibe about him.

A couple both facing camera, laughing. Man in a dark suit with a purple tie. A woman with medium length ash blonde hair in a wedding dress.

Perhaps it was Freudian…


When university finished and we all went our own way in the world of work, our friendships remained. My parents asked, ‘Why don't you date one of the gang?’ (as we called ourselves, still do. We’re all now married and still friends). My answer was clear. ‘They’re the boys. We're only friends.’


Likewise, Mr A's dad asked him a similar question. ‘Why don't any of you go out with Kali?' Mr A reports being shocked at the suggestion.


‘Dad, she's one of the boys.’


One of the boys. We'd all go out to dinners together. I went to my friend’s bucks’ nights. Their weddings.


If someone had told me twenty years ago that I was going to marry Mr A, I would have said they were cracked.


A girlfriend of mine told me (many years before Mr A and I started going out), ‘You and Philip would be PERFECT for one another.’


‘Don’t’ be ridiculous,’ I said.


Turns out denial is truly a river in Egypt…


Mr A and I had spent a bit of time apart. He’d gone travelling, moved to regional areas for work. Had a long-term relationship. A daughter. I’d had relationships. Then one day we were finally in single in the same city at the same time.


Twenty years after we had first met at university we began hanging out together, alone. But instead of drinking beer and chatting about footy, we talked. About life, the universe and everything. Marriage, kids, our value, principles, politics. And it dawned on me. We had a heck of a lot in common. I found out things about him that I hadn’t known, even after twenty years of friendship. He can play piano (I can play piano too). Whilst I thought his only interest was Rugby League, he turned out to love the theatre, music and reading. Just like me.


He's a bit of a philosopher. Okay, he also loves dad jokes:


‘What did the Zero say to the eight?'

...

‘Nice belt.’


Shrugs …You can't have everything.


Turns out my girlfriend was right, we were perfect for one another. Then one night after a few wines in a pub in the city, Mr A kissed me and my immediate thought like a bolt of lightning from the heavens was…


I’m going to marry you.

Picure of a couple both wearing sunglasses, standing in front of a beach scene. The day is sunny. The man is wearing a read and white cap. The woman is wearing a straw hat..

Yeah, the kiss was that good. Romance novel good.


And, dear reader, a little over eighteen months later, we were. Married that is.


Mr A proposed on top of a bluff overlooking the ocean in 1770 in North Queensland. The photo is of us, just before the proposal. He got down on bended knee (a bit of a feat for someone who has a knee injury from playing earlier mentioned football) and popped the question. I giggled. Mr A says I never actually said yes. But I figure an ‘I do’ in a church with his father as priest and eighteen years of marriage, tells a story all of its own.


When I finally let my girlfriend know (you know the one, who said Mr A and I would be perfect TEN years before I realised it myself) she said, ‘I’ll only say it once. I TOLD YOU!’


Yep, she did. Would us getting together have saved a lot of heartbreak in our lives? Possibly. But I like to think that Mr A and I came together at the perfect time. We’d grown as people and knew what we wanted from life and a relationship. In each other, we found it.


One of the journalists asked, ‘You’re a romance author. How do you keep the romance alive in your relationship?’ At that, I laughed. Because my husband and I both have jobs. I write my books after hours. I've got two teenage children a cat and a budgie (perfect food chain). The house is chaos. There's time for nothing.


What do we do for romance?

You'd think as a romance author my life would be full of it, but the reality is it’s not the grand gestures that do it for me. It’s the simple things. Time together when we go and grab a coffee, before we pick up the shopping. At the end of the day where we’re both exhausted but have some quiet time to unpack the things that might have been worrying us though the day. Time to spend together, time to listen.

Bunch of flowers including apricot roses, small white roses, red berries and purp gum leaves,

Also, time to give each other space and silence in a noisy world.


I love that Mr A doesn’t believe in the commerciality of Valentine’s Day but always buys me a gorgeous bunch of flowers the day before. And he ALWAYS supports my writing, even before I was published when it took me away from the family, and when there was really nothing to show for it other than words on a page and hope.


If that isn’t true love and romance, I don’t know what is.


So, whilst my heroes do the grand gestures of diamonds and whisking their partners away on a private jet to some exotic destination (okay, if Mr A offered that I wouldn't say no...), I love the little things. That show thoughtfulness in the mundane and the everyday. The start of my story was like a meet cute from a romance novel. And I just love my ongoing epilogue.


So what about you? What are your most romantic stories? Do you love grand gestures? How about the little things? I'd love to hear because love stories are my jam!


Anyhow, that's it for me. Next time I'm hoping to have an author interview with one of my all-time faves, Charlotte Stein, talking about her new book (and first in five years) When Grumpy Met Sunshine. Until next time, stay safe and sparkle. Love, Kali.


(P.S. If you want to keep up with my writing, books or life generally, you can check out my Newsletter, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram)





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