Careers are at the heart of my new novel Legacy. The hero, Dr Rodrigo Rueda de Calderón (Ruy), is a doctor who has set up a clinic offering alternative medicine to those suffering from cancer. The heroine, Luna Ward, is a journalist with a prominent scientific magazine in the United States who has been sent to work undercover at the Institute for the Research of Natural Remedies in Cadiz and then write an exposé on Ruy’s work, especially what her boss calls his ‘cutting-edge, although possibly questionable, use of some rather wacky herbal treatments’.
Both Luna and Ruy are very serious about their work. As a doctor, Ruy has devoted his life to helping people, and he is determined to make new strides in cancer treatments, drawing on the knowledge he has gained both in his medical school training and in his time with the gypsy people from whom he is descended. Luna has worked hard to reach her position at the magazine and be the ‘first-rate investigative journalist’ her boss calls her, and she is determined to research the Institute carefully so that she can write a water-tight exposé of Ruy ‘peddling hope in some arcane Amazonian jungle root or gypsy herbs straight out of folklore’. Her own cousin recently died from cancer – she will not allow Dr Calderón to offer false hope to suffering people.
From the outset, then, Luna and Ruy are thrown together in the business sphere. This means each sees the other in their professional guise: intelligent, experienced and confident. It is hard for Ruy not to be impressed by Luna, with her eye for detail, inquisitive mind, rigorous researching skills and hardworking nature. Simultaneously, try as she may Luna cannot deny that Ruy is an excellent doctor and pioneer in his field: empathetic, problem-solving, courageous and with a spine of steel when it matters.
Which leads me to this:
Career matters… when it comes to romance
Of course romance blooms; an impassioned, dedicated, successful businessperson is very attractive, after all. So the career matters in bringing the two together and creating a common ground from which attraction can grow. Ruy’s and Luna’s careers matter: they define, in part, who they are.
Does the nature of the career matter? In this story, it certainly does: Ruy’s medicine defines him, as does Luna’s writing. But in broad terms the career need not be so important: what really matters, for romance to bloom, is that the career reveals the following qualities in the person:
* Intelligence: an interest in the world and ability and willingness to be open-minded and challenge ideas.
* Determination: the drive to work at something over a long period of time; to achieve.
* Passion: the fire inside that makes the career important, worthwhile, a means of leaving a legacy
The last, I think, is the most important of all. Passion in a person is so attractive. Imagine, for a moment, going on a blind date with a man. When you ask him what he does for a living, he sighs and says despondently:
‘I’m a teacher. Ten year olds. It’s a drudge. My boss is a nightmare, the pay is awful and the kids… they have no respect for me at all. I hate my job, but I’m stuck with it.’
This man is hardly going to get your pulse racing, I’m sure you’ll agree. Imagine if he answered this way instead, with his eyes shining:
‘I’m a teacher! It’s amazing. I mean, it’ll never make me rich, but the kids… they make every day challenging and exciting. I love my job… it’s really rewarding.’
Now there’s a man you’d like to see again!
In all of my books you will find that career matters: all of the characters have careers about which they are passionate. In Legacy, however, that passion threatens to derail Luna and Ruy’s unfolding love story. Luna’s job is to betray Ruy by secretly writing an article on his work. Dr Rodrigo Rueda de Calderón will surely not take kindly to his life’s work coming under scrutiny in this underhanded way, but if Luna does not write the article, her career will nosedive. Ultimately, what will matter more: professionalism or love – and must the two even be mutually exclusive?