Amanda and Megan continue with their holiday conversation today, in a bid to avoid actually, y’know, working on writing or wrapping those presents or baking those cookies.

Amanda: Okay, so here is the story of one of the best Christmas gifts I ever received (a bit like the BB gun in The Christmas Story)–I got something called “Fashion Plates” when I was about 6 or 7. These were bumpy little plastic plates, pics of various dresses, tops, skirts, etc. You could slide them into a frame, cover them with a piece of paper, and draw over them (like brass rubbings of tombstones). I could create my very own fashionable outfits, in all sorts of colors! (As long as the color was included in the Special Pencils that came with it, that is). Sadly, the clothes were actually quite ugly, and I often put together ensembles worthy of Go Fug Yourself, but I loved it. I think it started me on the road to fashion obsession…

And right now I am obsessed with a Barielle nail polish (I think it’s only available at CVS) called, wonderfully, “Misbehaving Mistress.” It’s a great graphite gray, perfect for holiday dress-up but not as predictable as red.

And I am telling everyone to run to the movies and see Rachel Getting Married. I know sometimes I like some sorta crappy movies for the wrong reasons (great costumes, hunky actors, whatever), but this was excellent. A great movie about the nature of families, loss, guilt, love–and with a fabulous wedding. When I get married, I must have samba dancers at the reception. And I was surprised by how terrific Anne Hathaway was.

What are you obsessed with lately?

Megan: I am obsessed with wringing every last bit of BBC drama from my Netflix subscription (a birthday gift, btw!). I’ve been watching Damian Lewis in The Forsyte Saga, and have many more family tragedies in the queue.

Amanda: Oh, yes, more family tragedy please! (as long as it’s just in the movies, natch). I also loved The Forsyte Saga (part one more than part two–Fleur got on my nerves). Don’t you just love Irene’s hats? And that red velvet gown?

Megan: I thought she was just lovely. Great speaking voice, too!

Amanda: I, too, am utterly addicted to Netflix. Currently there are something like 79 movies in the queue, but I’m always looking for more! I just finished Our Mutual Friend, and could not figure out where I had seen that psychotic schoolteacher before…

(Note from Megan: Psychotic Schoolteacher sounds like a good name for an indie-rock band! Amanda: I concur.)

Anyway, then the new Sense and Sensibility came on last night on PBS, and it turns out he was Colonel Brandon! He was sorta psychotic there, too, but in a better way. (Dominic Cooper still looked like an untrustworthy toad, though. Maybe there should have been more shirtless moments, like in Mamma Mia. One of those craptastic movies I loved, btw. Can’t wait for the DVD)

So, what’s next on your Netflix list?

Megan: I’ve got Derek Jarman’s Caravaggio, starring a very young, frequently naked Sean Bean, heading my way. Note from Amanda: I put this one on my own queue immediately. Next up is perhaps Dragonwyck, which I talked about last week, starring Vincent Price, based on an Anya Seton novel. Maybe Mayor of Casterbridge with Ciaran Hinds? Not sure, because that pesky Spouse isn’t as avidly interested in this fine BBC output as I am. So, Gone Baby Gone is there, as is Drunken Master II and the Director’s Cut of Bladerunner. All things I want to see, too, but–there are British Men waiting to talk to me. (Hm, sounds like a business venture. Getting British men to do faux phone sex where they tell us how repressed and tortured they are, and how the love of a good woman could set them free. I’d pay for that)

Amanda: Me, too! Most definitely. Phone Sex for Historical Romance Addicts. Might be a new direction for us in this economy…

Speaking of which–tell us more about this nekkid Sean Bean. Wasn’t he the inspiration for one of your heroes?

Megan: Yeah, ’cause it’s really only one of three men who inspire me and my writing. Clive Owen, Sean Bean, and Richard Armitage. The book I’m in the midst of now is basically if Richard Sharpe got done a bad turn and met a woman who could actually keep him for longer than one book. I like writing someone who’s as bad-tempered as this hero, it’s fun saying the things I always long to say in real life.

And the contemporary I have in mind also features Mr. Bean (Sean, not the comedian one), only even sharper (ha!) than the Sharpe hero in the historical. In that book he’s a law student who makes money as a road manager for a band. My heroine is a bass player in a wedding band. Mayhem ensues. (I’ve just revealed my synopsis skills! Impressive, huh?)

Amanda: Hey, way better than mine! When I try to outline a story it comes out something like “It’s a Regency, or maybe Georgian. There’s this hero, he’s an actor–but not really, maybe he’s a spy or something. There’s a heroine, she does stuff, too. Maybe she’s a writer, or an opera singer. No, she raises Shetland ponies! They meet, and they hate each other, but not really. They have sex. Then interesting stuff happens before they get married. There’s a villain, too. But I’m not sure yet what he does. Maybe a rival breeder of Shetland ponies?”

I guess if the career as operators of a British Men Phone Sex ring falls through, we can’t get a job writing synopses. Sigh.

Megan: Probably not. But, Amanda, besides Orlando, who have you imagined as your hero?

Amanda: Well, my stable of heroes (ha! I love that image) is much wider than yours. The hero inspiration changes with each book, though Orlando is often there. (For High Seas Stowaway, I used lots of pics of him from Pirates of the Caribbean 3). For the WIP (my Elizabethan Christmas/Dancing With the Stars story–weird, I know, but stay tuned) it’s Apolo Anton Ohno, and for the Irish-set book I am starting after the new year, it’s Rupert Friend in Pride and Prejudice (because he is blond, and an officer in the British Army, and that’s what I could find). I need to find stories for Hugh Jackman and Javier Bardem, too.

For a story idea I have in the starting stages, I need a young-ish hero (he’s younger than the heroine), but am having a harder time with that. Maybe Dominic Cooper (in The Duchess, not S&S!), or Ed Westwick from Gossip Girl? Suggestions welcome, please.

Thus concludes Megan and Amanda’s Gossip Hour! For now, anyway. Now it’s your turn! What was your favorite holiday gift ever? What are your obsessions right now (movies, books, anything!)? And who are your favorite hero inspirations? (and suggestions for Amanda…)

And be sure and join us tomorrow as Deb Marlowe talks about her new book, An Improper Aristocrat!