I’ve been a little down this week... After putting a few finishing touches on my latest work-in-progress and getting it ready to send to my editor, a huge let-down washed over me. It is hard to explain, but it happens to me every time I finish a story. There are those long endless days or weeks that all seem to blend together. The days I’ve spent all alone with those characters––in my robe, drinking coffee, eating nothing but snacks and breaking only for Chinese takeout with my family. My brain begins to think like the people I’m writing as I hum the music they’d listen to, and they are very, very real to me. Not in some psychotic sense, but in my mind, the main and side characters come to life, instructing me to put their story on paper.
As a person, I don’t generally squee or eeek or gasp over the people who come to life in my imagination. Perhaps, I’m overly attached and nervous to share. Maybe it is an unhealthy dose of separation anxiety or nerves over whether you––the reader––will accept my characters. Often, they’re flawed, not perfect beings trying to live their lives and fucking up while they do it.
With my latest project, I realized that if I want or need to do one simple thing as a writer, it is to make my readers think and question what they are told to believe.
Starting with my first heroine, Sienna. She’s a religious woman turned stripper––not for kicks, but for freedom and safety from her tyrant of a husband. At one book club, I was called a particular religion basher and asked why I wrote this? I took it in stride, as Sienna is a survivor, my woman of valor who commanded her own destiny, and wasn’t created without the necessary research. When you dig, you find, and that’s what I did. If I made one or two readers question what may be hiding underneath some, a very few, and definitely not all religious sects than I did my job.
Then, there’s Asher, the star of my Electric Tunnel series and Smoldered. He is such a psychological wreck, the product of no parental supervision and a degenerate of the Las Vegas streets who did the best he could. He cannot get his personal life together, and he cheats and acts a fool and tears down homes and ruins relationships when love is right in front of him. Some hate him, won’t read him for his lousy cheating ways. To me, he’s every bit as lovable and broken, and watching him climb out from under the boulders weighing down on top of him makes me fall a little bit harder for him. After all, the notion is not all of us came from the same loving place where we learned to cherish what’s in front of us. Sometimes, men and women need a swift kick in the ass as adults to understand this.
I’m not going to take apart each of my characters. They all have their own distinct issues and hurdles, and writing their journeys, bringing to life their passion and pitfalls––that’s my greatest passion. In my latest––Vérité––I decided to take a different approach. A good guy meets a screwed up, mixed up, train wreck of a girl. I take down stereotypes––not just gender roles, but way more. Creating people who are not what you think they will be, breathing life into them has been my main focus for the past two months, and now I’m sending them to get them ready to share.
I already miss them, hope you love them, and treat them with the same respect I’ve come to have for them. So, it is a bittersweet moment like sending your kid to kindergarten. It’s time to let go, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Thank you to all of you who have cared for my characters. XOXO ~ R