© The Edmonton Journal, Saturday January 29, 2022
(Transcript of article below)
Mark and I were interviewed by the Journal and completed a "cover shoot" of a fake romance novel to play on the fact that Mark is a cover model contestant at this year's Romantic Times convention in St. Louis in April. The whole thing was a blast, and the shoot went really well, because a close friend commented on how amazing it was that there's a romance novel out there featuring a hero and heroine who look so much like us two!!
Is Hubby of Local Romance Author the Next Fabio?
Mark Horton, Journal books editor
Appeared, Saturday, January 29, 2022
With her long black dress and smoldering eyes, she could be the aristocratic and elegant door to of a Victorian-era Lord of the manner.
With his long hair and blousy shirt, open to the waist and exposing a hard belly that speaks of pitching hay bales, he could be a stable hand, the dangerous kind her Daddy warned her about.
If she doesn't watch it he might just take her in that tempestuous, stable hand way that is common in the pages of romantic novels everywhere.
They're quite a pair, a pair that just might be on the cusp of winning the big prize in April at the Romantic Times Book Lovers convention in St. Louis.
She's Tracy Cooper-Posey, Capital Health letter scribbler by day and romance novelist by night. And he is her hubby Mark, health supplements store manager with a buff bod and an eye on winning the 2005 Mr. Romance competition at the convention. The winner and the runner up are offered book jacket contracts and the chance to be the next Fabio. Cover models can make as much as $500 an hour.
The competition's a lark for them both, although Tracy is serious about her art. With a dozen romance novels to her credits and the latest out in the next couple of months, she's hoping for a breakthrough that would mean she could write full-time.
She's managed to write the novels while holding down a full-time job -- she was once editor and production manager at Edmonton's Where magazine -- as well as raising three teenagers.
"Of course I read a lot as a kid, and I started very early, before I even went to school. I grew up in a small town in western Australia called Cadoux, a place you rarely find on a map, where there was no television." Because her parents owned the general store with its own small book corner, Tracy could indulge what would become a lifelong obsession.
By the time she was in junior high school, she had graduated to novels published by Mills and Boone, the Australian equivalent of Harlequin romances.
"I devoured them. My mom would buy them by the carton in secondhand stores and very early on, I discovered that the classic authors had a straight forward and formulaic approach.
"There wasn't much sex with the exception of a few that would come through with a Steamy passage or two that would curl my hair. But those books must have put the brand on me."
It was at last year's convention in New York that Mark first decided to compete in the annual Mr. Romantic Times contest.
For one thing the desk clerk at the hotel started calling him a Fabio, and some of the conventioneers thought he had already been on a book cover and asked him to pose for pictures.
"It was kind of cool," Mark says. "And I've always been a bit of a flirt."
And while he admits he's no expert on romance novels, he's read every one that Tracy has written.
It is however a genre that's often dismissed as something distinctly downmarket, although that doesn't worry Tracy.
"Different strokes for different folks," she says. "I'm proud of what I do, and there are romantic novels that are generic and seem as if they're dashed off. It's those sorts of novels that give the romance industry a bad name.
"You can tell when the author's heart isn't in it. You can't afford to be anything but sincere when you write the stories or it shows. For me, story and character are always supreme."
The women characters have evolved to. They're often strong-willed, have careers and are spirited and independent.
"In the romance industry, there are characters that are called TSTL. That stands for "too stupid to live" and I don't think I could write a TSTL novel to save my life."
Writing daily, working, raising the kids, all means a full day and long nights. She credits Mark with being a supportive husband who sounds, well, downright romantic.
"And he's not only good for cover modeling cover, but he also cooks and cleans," she says.
As for the contest, Mark's in full preparation mode. There are another five or 10 pounds to lose to bring out the ab six-pack, and Tracy has made him a coat that looks like the one worn by Keanu Reeves in The Matrix.
"I don't know if I'll wear it with a shirt or not. I just hope when I walk out on that stage, the women squeal."
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