Monday, October 08, 2012
I Could’ve Been a Contender!…Or at Least Not Phobic…
One of my favorite television shows is ABC’s Once Upon a Time. I love this show because we receive a glimpse into the lives of time-honored and much loved fairy tale characters. We discover their stories—like how did Snow White and Prince Charming meet before the fated kiss? Why did Rumpelstiltskin choose to become an evil, magical imp instead of the loving, self-sacrificing father he once was? How did the queen become an embittered, warped, rage-filled evil bi—I mean, sorceress? It’s fascinating—the histories, choices and events that shaped them into Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Pinocchio are fascinating.
In August, our chapter hosted a program present by author Carrie Lofty called “From Clichés to Keepers”. She spoke about these same events that establishes a character’s inner-self and the psychological repercussions that affect their behavior and emotions. What altered a heroine’s path from rebellious, high-spirited child to biddable, don’t-rock-the-boat woman? What event ingrained a fear of snakes inside an otherwise fearless hero? Carrie asked us to participate in an exercise, sharing a significant turning point in our lives. She also wanted us to consider what our lives would look like now or what kind of people we would be if the event had not occurred.
I immediately knew my turning point. When I was five, I attended Messiah Lutheran Day Care Center. That summer there was an infestation of Daddy Long Legs. They were every-freaking-where! One hot day while eating lunch out on the playground, a couple of spiders crawled up my arm and—unbeknownst to me—one disappeared inside my Doritos bag. Imagine sprinkling those last, all-important crumbs—cause we all know the bag isn’t truly finished until you upend the crumbs on your tongue!—on my palm and discovering an eight-legged freak amid the chips! Oh Lawd! Up until that point my only fear was water pooling in my bathing suit and dragging down my top to expose my itty-bitty, non-existent boobies to my class! But after that point I developed a horrible, debilitating case of arachnophobia. And as twins often share many things, my sister did, too. We even stapled the spider section together in the Encyclopedia Britannica so we wouldn’t flip to it by mistake! Unfortunately, the fear hasn’t abided. I still haven’t watched that part in Return of the King. I’ve never watched the movie Arachnophobia—had nightmares for two weeks from the trailer alone! If the Daddy Long Leg infestation hadn’t happened, well, I wouldn’t have heart palpitations every time I see a web. Aaand I wouldn’t sit in the car during a hot summer’s day sweating off five pounds waiting on my husband to get home so he can kill the spider on the front porch.
I started thinking about my characters and their life-changing events. In Under His Wings, my upcoming release from Ellora’s Cave Publishing, my heroine Tamar was the only survivor in a terrible plane crash. Up until the accident she’d been a fun-loving, daredevil type who enjoyed rock-climbing, sky-diving and camping. She was fearless. But after waking up in a dark wreckage on a mountainside and having to climb over tangled, bloody corpses to freedom, she developed crippling fears of the dark and flying, grounding her figuratively and literally. Which really throws a monkey wrench in falling in love with a hippogryph…
In Love and Protect, my romantic suspense available from Ellora’s Cave, the hero, Sean—a hawt lead guitarist in a rock band—learned a hard lesson early in life. As a child, his drug-addicted mother abandoned him on a playground, teaching him even the one who is supposed to nurture, love and protect you cannot be trusted. This lesson was compounded when he was thrown into the cruel mercies of the foster system. It ingrained in him the need for control. He became a man who sought the connection of physical pleasure but feared true intimacy.
My heroine from Stroke of Midnight, an upcoming release from Ellora’s Cave based on the Cinderella fairy tale, is a brass-balls, no-nonsense businesswoman that wields sarcasm with the skill and deadliness of a dragon-slaying prince. Rowyn’s parents divorced when she was a child, and her embittered mother alternated between using Rowyn as a pawn against her father and belittling her when she didn’t achieve her mother’s impossible expectations of perfection. As a result, Rowyn built impenetrable defenses around her heart. A sweet, desperate-to-please child grew into a woman who rejected others before they could reject her.
How these characters over come their fears and hang-ups—or persevere in spite of them—are as wonderful to read as witnessing them defeat a serial-killer psychopath, discover the identity of an obsessed stalker and stand up to a tyrannical mother. Now my happily-ever-after where I can kill a spider or even look at a picture of one without flipping out hasn’t arrived yet… But hey! One can dream!
Tell me a life-changing event in your life or one of your characters. Or just make fun of mine! I’m giving away a $15.00 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky commenter on October 9th! Also a comment here qualifies you for another entry toward the KINDLE FIRE for US residents only! Remember, the more times you comment during the Blog Blitz, the more entries you have!
Also, if you’re in the Birmingham area—or are willing to travel here—Southern Magic is hosting their annual Readers Luncheon on November 3rd with fabulous keynote speaker, Sherrilyn Kenyon and welcome speaker, Dianna Love! On top of that, count in many more of your favorite talented authors, wonderful food, free books, awesome baskets and a bag full of swag! Check out the details here! Hope to see you there!