All right, I'll admit it, I am a "softie" (otherwise known as a mushy person). While those close to me know it's true, others who see me only from the outside sometimes don't understand this. I think my low point was when I was pregnant with my fourth child and found myself crying at television commercials. I chalked some of that up to hormones, but even those couldn't take the blame entirely. As much as I try to pull back from sappiness, it has a way of sneaking up behind me and once more settling in.
One of my favorite movie scenes concerns Kathleen Turner's role as a romance novelist in ROMANCING THE STONE. There is this moment where she types the last line of her final chapter, and she is weeping from the sheer beauty of her ending. She cries so hard in fact, she can't find a shred of paper product left in her New York City apartment. Every paper towel and toilet paper roll is bare, and the tissue boxes are empty. When my kids watched a DVD of that film with me some years ago, all of them piped in, "Mom, that's just like you." Too sad, but true.
While none of us can change who we are, over time we might learn to channel our energies. And so it's been that I've learned to pour my emotionality into the creation of my characters. Because each is so different, and vastly varied in the amount of outward emotion he (or she) shows, this proves a ripe playing field for the bottled-up intensity my spirit aches to let flow. And, at times, my characters surprise me. Exactly as snarly tween Justin did in THE HOLIDAY BRIDE. I thought I had him pegged, knew his type precisely. Heck, I'd raised a passel of kids myself and had seen the spectrum. But when Justin's turn came, he pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat.
This is the fabulous part about being a writer. It's not just the main characters that can catch you off guard. The secondary ones often have something up their sleeves as well. In literary circles we writers sometimes divide ourselves into "plotters" and "pantsers." In other words, those who meticulously outline their work versus those who "fly by the seat of their pants." In truth, most writers are likely varying combinations of both. I suppose I am, too, though leaning a bit (okay, okay... maybe a lot...) more heavily toward the free-flowing side. I think this comes back to that emotionality - and trusting the characters to lead me where they need to take me: heartbreak, joy and all.
When I conceived of THE HOLIDAY BRIDE, the initial story was comprised of two questions: 1) What if a lonely child had asked Santa for a new mommy? 2) What if her bachelor dad had no idea until a mysterious blonde landed on his sofa on Christmas morning? It was a basic concept, garnered while scrubbing dishes one early spring evening. But that concept and the feelings of the characters behind it were strong enough to drive my bottom straight into my computer chair the next morning to begin the tale.
The story has fantasy elements that tie in with the Christmas theme, and which are also reminiscent of threads in my novel REAL ROMANCE. While REAL ROMANCE's Marie hopes to find her real-life ideal as presented in romance fiction, THE HOLIDAY BRIDE's Lucy aspires to a Happily Ever After as portrayed on late-night television. Will Lucy finally find forever with her present-day family man, despite a multitude of chaotic complications? Where love and life are concerned, and especially at Christmastime, only Santa knows for sure...
With best wishes for happy endings,