Friday, April 24, 2015

How Friends Have Influenced My Writing

In my thirty years career I’ve written nearly seventy-five novels in multiple genres, including romantic comedy, romantic suspense, mystery, women’s fiction and literary fiction. In thinking back on all those stories, I’m not surprised to see that my recurring theme is the courage and resilience of women. I’m not at all shocked to discover that I write about strong female friendships time and again.
The best friend/cousin relationship between Callie and Lovie in my Southern Cousins Mystery is based on my own easy friendships with my cousin Martha Jo Patterson and my cohort in the choir, flaming redhead Alice Virginia (AV) Daniels. Both women are feisty, opinionated, generous-hearted, wise, loyal, and full of humor and devilment. If you saw AV, you’d say, “Why there’s Lovie!”
             Martha Jo has been in my life since I was born. (That’s at least forty years ago, and I’m not admitting to a day more!) AV has been my friend for nearly a quarter of a century.  The minute I moved into a little cocoon-like apartment within walking distance of the church and joined the choir, I knew I’d found a best bud. Those two women continue to feed my imagination as I spin stories, particularly the zany comedic mysteries.  You’ll see their influence on my latest Southern Cousins Mystery, Elvis and the Buried Brides w/bonus short story.
          Two of my friends came into my life in elementary school and have remained staunch and amazing all these years – Jane Talbert and Johnie Sue Long. Over and over, my deep and abiding friendship with these two remarkable women plays out on the pages of my fiction. Stars to Lead Me Home, my latest women’s fiction novel plays on this friendship in spades! When I wrote the book, I was so emotionally invested in the characters, I laughed and cried all the way through. I put my heart right on the page. In those poignant scenes in Lillian’s home, I could imagine Jane and Johnie Sue doing exactly what Maggie and Jean did. Oh, I ADORE this book.  I know you will, too.  I hope you picture your own friends as you read this story.
There are other friends who have influenced my work, including the women who are also writers. I’m so fortunate that I can say they are too numerous to name, and if I started, I’d surely leave somebody out.   
Tell me wonderful stories of you and your friends!  And do stop by my website to learn more about Stars to Lead Me Home and Elvis and the Buried Brides w/bonus short story.

Peggy Webb is a USA Today Bestselling author who also writes as Elaine Hussey.      


Suzanne Johnson said...

Great post, Peggy! I am blessed with a great sisterhood of friends. We call ourselves the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Snark" because, yes, some of that might go on. There are seven of us, scattered across four states, but all of them joined me in New Orleans for the launch of my first book, and we are cooking up a Mardi Gras jaunt for next year. Our adventures over the years have definitely fueled my fiction and helped me understand the importance of friendship for my characters.

Cari Hislop said...

I too have been blessed with amazing friends over the years. It was a friend who encouraged me to start writing again at 24 after six years of story-silence (spent focusing on school, jobs and other interests - all the while probably depressed because I wasn't writing). I can only think of one character that was concretely influenced by a friend. Most of my friends though do encourage and support my story telling efforts (even if my stories aren't their cup of tea which I think is very kind and lovely).

Peggy Webb said...

Suzanne and Cari, thanks so much for your stories! I particularly love "Sisterhood of the Traveling Snark!"

Ali Hubbard said...

One thing I love as a newbie writer is making new writer friends. There's a connection that goes beyond personalities or outside interests. Being able to cheer each other on and understanding the challenges of writing at all levels. It seems pretty clear that it never gets easier. The challenges just change.

I haven't based any characters on anyone I know. But, I admit some dialogue is based on things I wish I could have said on a friend's behalf. Kind of a "wish I'd said that" clever thing I didn't come up with until 7 hours too late. haha