Sunday, April 13, 2014

Romance Authors Share Their Favorite Childhood Toys, part 2

by Joyce Lamb)

HEA asked some of our favorite romance authors to share their memories about favorite childhood toys. (Check out the first post about authors' childhood toys.)

Jo Beverley, author of A Shocking Delight

I don't remember a soft toy or doll, but I do remember Bayko.

It was a system of metal rods onto which I slid panels that looked like bricks, and others for doors and windows in order to make a house. Do you think I was supposed to be an architect? If so, it didn't take. I was already making up stories in my head.

Beth Williamson, author of The Prospect

No doubt about it — I was a tomboy through and through. I hated dresses and anything girlie. However, my favorite toy was a combination of both badass and femininity — the Debbie Lawler Flying Angel motorcycle daredevil jump kit. I loved that she was a female counterpart to Evel Knievel who was "the" thing back in the '70s. Debbie Lawler was a model of what you could do even if you had boobs — she was awesome. I wanted that motorcycle toy badly and lo and behold, Santa brought it! *the angels sang ;)* I played with that thing for years, making her do jumps, stunts and general bad-assery. That toy taught me to spread my own wings and let it all fly. Rock on, Flying Angel!

Mary Strand, author of Cooper's Folly

My favorite childhood toy wasn't a toy per se: It was a basketball. Regulation size, and we had a regulation-height hoop in the driveway. I started playing when I was 4. I was kid number seven out of eight, but all my siblings had their own lives that usually didn't include me, so I'd stand alone in the driveway for hours, dribbling and trying to shoot. I would take that huge-to-me ball and shoot it up at the hoop, so far above my head it was ridiculous, but I loved it. I kept shooting and shooting until I finally got one in. I no longer have that basketball, but I've had a couple dozen since then, and it's still the great passion of my life. It was my happy place. It was my salvation. It still is.

Beth Kery and her cash register.(Photo: Beth Kery)

Beth Kery, author of Since I Saw You

A favorite childhood toy that stands out for me was a cash register. My reasoning had nothing to do with loving cash. I was fascinated by things with buttons and keys, and envied the grocery store ladies for getting to "play" with cash registers regularly. I was enthralled by typewriters, too, because of the buttons. I guess it makes sense that I ended up a writer, and push buttons all day. I wish I still owned the cash register I got one Christmas morning when I was 4.

Toni Blake, author of the Destiny Series

Those who know me well will not be surprised to hear my fave toys were Barbie dolls. Not only were they cool and fashion-minded, they were great for the young creative mind. Oh the drama when my beautiful new Malibu Kelly's legs were both broken off. From that day forward, it was a heartbreaking love triangle wherein Ken was repeatedly forced to choose between that blond, racy Barbie in her fast, fun sports car and the sweet, paraplegic Kelly in the wheelchair my mother made for her, and who had to wear long dresses every day forever. As you can see, I was destined to become a romance writer. Though, so far, I've let all my characters keep their limbs.

Regan Walker, author of Wind Raven

My favorite toy as a child was a stuffed black cat named Pink Ears, named for his ears, which were pink on the inside. He had a long tail, which I used to carry him about. My mom told me she sewed that tail on at least a dozen times. Funny thing is I can't recall it ever falling off. Such are the memories of childhood. As a young child Pink Ears was my constant companion. I do believe at one point he was given a proper burial. Now I have a dog. His tail, I'm happy to say, is fully intact.

Sharla Lovelace, author of Don't Let Go

My favorite childhood toy, of course growing up in Southeast Texas, was a handmade carved wooden "rifle" that my carpenter dad made for me. :) I was probably 6 or 7, and The Rifleman was my TV addiction, so my dad hand-carved a wooden stock, and found some copper pipe, and created what I felt was a thing of beauty. The whole neighborhood at that time played Cowboys & Indians on a pretty regular basis, and they had water pistols (unfilled, because that wouldn't be fair, of course) and sticks. But I was the envy of my street with my Davy Crockett-esque rifle and garage sale cowboy boots. I wish I could say I had a picture ... oh if only we had camera phones back then to snap away instead of having to ration film! And flash cubes! :)

Glynnis Campbell had a troll doll named WishVicky.(Photo: Ebay)

Glynnis Campbell, author of The Winter Stone

My brother Brenn and I had two of those 1960s plump-bellied troll dolls we played with endlessly. Trolly, Brenn's troll, had pink hair. My troll, WishVicky, was a magenta-head. They talked in baby voices with a lisp, went on adventures, and we even wrote a song for them. Since we took them everywhere, they went with us to a camping trip to the Oregon coast. Somehow we lost them on the beach there and were inconsolable. But about a week later, Mom took us to buy replacements, this time more sedate blond- and brunette-haired trolls. Because we were so heartbroken over our original dolls, we decided that they'd floated away in the ocean all the way to Japan, where they were remanufactured and fitted with new hair, so these new dolls were actually Trolly and WishVicky reborn!

Maggie Toussaint, author of Gone and Done It

My favorite childhood toy was the Green Eggs and Ham book by Dr. Seuss. I lived in a rural coastal area, and toys and books were hard to come by. A new anything was indeed a treasure. Believe it or not, this was my first exposure to poetry and rhyming verse. I'd never before heard words strung together in a sing-song cadence either. The book quite literally sang to me and totally captured my imagination. So much so that at a very tender age of 8, I snuck into the kitchen one morning and made green eggs and ham for my entire family. I gleefully scrambled a dozen eggs with all the green dye left over from Easter egg dying. It was quite a masterpiece, if I do say so myself, though it was very hard to get the ham to take up the dye. Little did I realize as I prepared the breakfast in bed for my parents that they had slept in because they'd been up late at a party and had serious hangovers. They humored me and ate my offering, though my mom couldn't eat eggs of ANY kind for about five years after that. By the way, the entire next year of new books had nothing to do with food. My mom was one smart cookie!

Duffy Brown's Nancy Drew novels.(Photo: Duffy Brown)

Duffy Brown, author of Consignment Shop Mysteries

How about my first book bought with my very own money. I am sure Nancy Drew had a lot to do with me being a cozy mystery author today.

I bought The Haunted Attic when I was in the sixth grade and still have it beside me on my desk today. This was not exactly Mad Men era, but close. I loved that Nancy Drew was smart and caring. I really loved that she was smarter than the guys. I wanted to be Nancy! Reading Nancy Drew was great for mystery and the ego. Nancy was self-sufficient and took charge of her destiny. It planted a seed in me that took root in enjoying mysteries and life.

Eden Bradley, author of Dangerously Bound

My favorite toys were always Barbies. I had at least a half dozen at any given time, including a Ken or two and a Skipper (although how frustrating was it that Skipper couldn't fit Barbie's clothes?). My favorite Barbie was the special edition Diane Carroll Julia doll. Some of you may be too young to remember that show, but Julia was a sit-com, and the first to feature an African-American woman in a leading non-stereotypical role. Now, I had no idea at age 7 about any of the politics involved — all I knew was how beautiful she was, and when the doll came out I had to have it! She came with her nurse's uniform, just like the one she wore on the show, but being a junior fashionista, the first thing I did was put her in an evening gown, of course!

Looking back, I was making up involved stories about my Barbies and their dates with Ken — I was a budding romance writer even then. Unfortunately, she met an untimely end at the hands of my older brother's GI Joe, as most of my Barbies did. I try for happier endings now!

Stormy Glenn, author of Slave Auction

My family didn't have a lot when I was growing up. We learned the value of a dollar fairly quickly, but we also learned how important the little things were. One year, we were in the middle of a major economic recession and the entire country was feeling the pinch. I was young and was dying to get the newest Barbie Dream House. I had been dreaming about it for ages. I also knew it would never happen. The money just was not there.

One day my dad came home from work and told me and my brother to unload the truck as he walked toward the house. We jumped to do it. Imagine my surprise when I flipped back the tarp covering the bed of the truck and there was a dollhouse. My dad had been working on it at work for weeks. It was a two-story dollhouse made of wood with windows and doors and everything. It wasn't the Barbie Dream House. It was better.

Want to share your favorite childhood toy?

Stay tuned to HEA for more authors' favorite childhood toy memories.

*Blogger's note: Mine is still Barbie! But I forgot about my Cabbage Patch Kids. And Simon was great!!!