Thursday, February 14, 2008

Moonlight and Romance

Moonstruck is a favorite movie of mine. Seemingly star-crossed lovers overcome the odds to claim a forbidden romance, and they are egged on—despite their naysaying relatives—by the irresistible draw of the moon. Sound far-fetched? Not according to romantic lore throughout the ages.

One of my mother’s favorite tunes is “Moonglow,” a song made all the more famous by an unforgettable dance scene between William Holden and Kim Novak in Picnic. The lyrics suggest “It must have been moonglow… that moonglow gave me you.” The tie between romance and moonlight is clear. One of my personal favorites is “Harvest Moon,” a Neil Young song that extends an invitation to dance in the moonlight. “Because I’m still in love with you, I want to see you dance again, on this harvest moon.” “Moonlight Serenade” is a Glenn Miller classic. What intrigues me about the songs is not just that they wax romantic about the moon, but that they suggest moonlight and dancing go hand and hand.

Some of that might reverberate right back to our most pagan roots. The full moon and the light it offered provided a time to celebrate community rituals. Dancing would accompany these ceremonies, especially when they offered praise and thanksgiving. Or when they celebrated the harvest and fertility. So the moon’s association with romance is wound deep in our cultural roots.
Even today, scientists struggle to pinpoint the reason for the statistical increase in crimes near the full moon and new moon or the increase in conceptions around the full moon. Could it be that our bodies, made up of so much water, respond to a kind of physiological tide? Or is it simply that the full moon beckons us to dance and make romance. For the maladjusted and emotionally disturbed, perhaps that call takes on a negative connotation the rest of us don’t feel.

Whatever it is, I tapped the moonlight and romance connection for A KNIGHT MOST WICKED, providing the hero an opportunity to teach the heroine to dance under the soft glow of the moon. My 14th century healer could not resist anymore than Loretta Castorini could turn away Ronny Cammareri in Moonstruck. No matter how much Loretta wants to make the practical marriage choice, la bella luna brings her to the doorstep of her finance’s brother.

After the moon has its way with the characters, a choice based on love is her only option. And as a romance writer, I can’t help but enjoy that magical draw of the moon.
***Do you have a favorite moon song or moon scene?


Carol Townend said...

Hi Joanne
I love the idea of the moon theme! Have you come across a book called 'The Artful Universe' by John Barrow? It's more scientific than my normal reads, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Barrow mentions the moon, and says that if it weren't for the moon there would not be any life on earth, because the moon dictates the shape of our orbit (round the sun). Without the moon we would alternate between great extremes of freezing or burning. Anyway the moon is vital to our existence!
Can't wait to read your novel...
Best wishes

Joanne Rock said...

Sounds like a neat book, Carol! My family and I had a nice close-up of the moon this past week while on vacation in Puerto Rico. We got the experience the full moon from sandy beaches where it felt close enough to touch. So beautiful!