I have been in love many times. Most recently, it was with Nick. Nick really had everything I’d ever dreamed of in a man. Tall, dark, handsome. He was bold, with just a hint of vulnerability hidden beneath all that bravado. And, like me, he was also a lover of art and good grammar. I admired his dive-right-in, do-what-he-wanted attitude, and found myself loving every minute I spent with him.
Before Nick, there was Preston. Preston was suave, debonair, and unfailingly polite. A responsible, business-savvy man born to a world of privilege, and fighting hard to win back the woman he loved. I used to love the way Preston smiled and the soft waves in his dark blonde hair. His responsible and caring nature won me over, bit by bit.
So why, you may ask, did these fantastic love affairs come to an end? Sadly, or perhaps happily, it had something to do with finishing my books. That’s right, Nick, the studly hero of my novel, Gossip, and Preston, the very charming hero of my book, Gratification, were entirely fictitious. That didn’t stop me from loving them. And, in fact, I believe it was my love for Preston, and later for Nick, that made it so easy to write those books and really bring their characters to life.
When I started my latest book, Redemption, I had yet another hero to bring to life. Earl is the classic knight-in-shining armor. Noble and chivalrous. But a funny thing happened when I started writing Earl. At first, I couldn’t put my finger on it. I had sketched out the basics of his personality and knew enough about his background that he should have simply started sweet-talking me, the way Preston and Nick had done. His utter silence was devastating. I went through the entire first draft of book trying anything I could think of to coax Earl into speaking. Nothing worked. Then it dawned on me. Earl wasn’t speaking because he knew my heart was still palpitating elsewhere. That’s right. I was still busy salivating over Nick. And Earl was none too happy about it! No wonder the poor guy wasn’t talking.
With the problem fully understood, I began the somewhat daunting task off getting over one love affair and moving on to another. I write romance, well really, romantic suspense, but still romance. So I know a thing or two about heartbreak and learning to love again. Funny how lessons from real life so often come into play when you’re writing. I allowed myself a little time to grieve over the loss of Nick and accept that he and I were no longer going to be together the way we once were. I took a good, hard look at the scenes in Redemption, and realized too many of them were still in Nick’s POV, and I was still trying to make him my hero. With red pen firmly in hand, I began editing those scenes; combining some of them together to form one slightly longer chapter and changing others to a different character’s POV. Next, I took a look at the various plot points and realized Nick was taking the lead in too many of them. I re-worked those scenes and gave the most important jobs to Earl.
The last thing I did was to give Earl a face…a real face. Modeling my characters’ looks after someone in real life is not something I usually do. It’s not something I usually need to do. Normally, I can see my characters in my mind as clearly as if I knew them in real life. Since that had not happened with Earl, I found a ruggedly handsome, charming-in-his-own-way individual, and like a bolt of lightning, Earl came to life. Suddenly real in my mind’s eye, with a vital role to play in my book and no longer challenged by Nick for the title of hero, Earl finally started speaking. Ah, sweet nothings from Earl. Earl, there is no one like you. And once more I am falling in love.
As in real life, sometimes the spark is instant. Other times, it’s like a slow-burning flame that needs to be nurtured. But however it’s accomplished, it’s the entrancing flame of love that allows my heroes to burn brightly.
So here’s to falling in love…one hero at a time!