People often comment on how “real” my characters are and they ask me how I create such believable heroines. I suppose it is because most of my work is grounded in reality. My characters are not me but some of their struggles, particularly with men, come from my own struggles—even if I don’t realize it until after the book is released.
Take for instance, Stephanie Cohen in Just Friends with Benefits. Stephanie is an attractive, intelligent, funny and interesting woman but she often refuses to acknowledge what is right in front of her. Rather than take things at face value, she will analyze things Ad Nauseum. And often, she will draw the conclusion that favors her own desires. In a word, she is a bit delusional. I cannot begin to tell you how much time I have wasted wondering what a guy was really thinking and making excuses for him in order to save my own ego. As a result, I was blind to some much better prospects who moved on by the time I realized how stupid I was. Lesson learned: You snooze; you lose.
In A State of Jane, Jane Frank is under the inaccurate assumption that she is in control. If she acts a certain way, looks a certain way, plays by the right “rules”, everything will fall into place. What she fails to consider is that regardless of how pretty, smart, intelligent (insert other positive attributes here), one is, a man who is only looking to get laid will not want to settle down with her. If he’s a jerk, he will still be a jerk no matter how nice she is. If he’s just not feeling the chemistry, she can’t force it on him simply by being “better.” And a man can change his mind, flake, lose interest, be a douchebag for a multitude of reasons that have nothing to do with her. It doesn’t actually matter what the reason is; it is what it is. This novel was inspired by a period of time in my life when one after another, a guys I was dating who was seemingly really into me *poof* disappeared without a word. I had no idea why and it was so frustrating because I felt like I needed an answer and that I deserved an answer. Lesson learned: Relationships are a two-way street and it’s not always my fault when things don’t work out. No sense beating myself up. Just move on!
Kim Long in my newest release, Blogger Girl, is definitely more grounded in reality than Stephanie and Jane. She’s not deluded and she’s not a Type A Control Freak. She does, however, have an insecurity complex and often wonders “why would someone like him be interested in someone like her.” I, too, struggle with feeling insecure and not good enough. Not all of the time and only in limited company, but there have been men in my life who, intentionally or not, made me feel “less than.” Lesson learned: most of the time, insecurity comes from within and needs to be dealt with. I try to be conscious as to how I feel in a man’s presence. Any man who deserves my time should build me up, not cut me down and if I find myself second guessing my appeal on any level, he’s probably not the one for me.
In my WIP, my main character Maggie is 39 years old and struggling with her impending 40th birthday. Although she’s been in many relationships and even lived with her last boyfriend, she has never been married. She looks young and she feels young but she is terrified that her window of opportunity to settle down has passed by right along with her twenty and thirty-something years. Successful, bright and pretty, she has no problems getting attention from men but fears that the pool of available men who are actually interested in a relationship with her is shallow. This is probably the most difficult novel I have written so far because it is very close to home. I struggle with this daily. I have also had my share of relationships but none of them resulted in marriage. I admit that much of this was my fault. I wasted my twenties and early thirties dismissing some great guys for one reason or another not realizing it was fear that was holding me back. I’ve since moved on from that but now I’m wondering if the mistakes of my past have irrevocably, excuse my language, fucked up my future. I wonder if I am being punished somehow for being a late bloomer and, well, stupid. I know that’s unlikely but to be honest, I sort of wish I was being punished. If I could repent for my “sins”, maybe I could be forgiven and things would magically work out for me. I’m not desperate and while I want to settle down, I have no desire to settle. I figure I’ve waited this long, better to hold out for someone who makes me truly happy than settle at this point. I would so much rather be alone, spending time with my friends and family, than in the company of someone who I feel lukewarm about. But I’m lonely. I yearn to share my life with someone. There. I said it. It wasn’t that hard.Lesson learned: Not sure yet. Hopefully, by the time I finish this novel, the answer will be clear. And maybe, just maybe, I will meet someone wonderful, available and, most importantly, desirous of having a relationship with me. If you know anyone, please let me know 🙂