I like to think of myself as a nice person. True, I don’t mind killing people in my stories, but most of them deserve to die, and that’s part of tension and conflict, right? We’ve all heard over and over again that things must always get worse for our poor protagonist. If his victories come too easily, readers yawn. Hell, newspapers are filled with dire events. Fiction has to have more drama than fact, doesn’t it? At least, we have to feel it more.
But I have to admit, I’m a little surprised at myself. I’ve been working on the Mill Pond romance series. The first book, because I wasn’t sure if I could write romance, has a healthy dose of humor. It made me more comfortable with the boy/girl stuff. I sort of fell in love with Harmony and Brody in the second romance, and I wanted Brody to be the brooding, not-so-silent type. He has a way of saying what no girl wants to hear. You have to remember, I fell madly in love with Natty Bumppo in middle school. While my friends read romances, I read about pioneers. These guys were a little overly reticent, way too practical. They weren’t in touch with their feelings. They’d rather keep their scalps. Brody brought back memories of the strong, silent type who managed to say the wrong thing when they did finally open their lips. A little too outspoken.
In the third romance, I wanted to push the envelope a little and have a heroine who wasn’t the standard pretty girl. Paula’s a chef with tattoos, a stud, and two kids. She’s smart, practical, but has terrible taste in men. I tried to show how hard it is to juggle a career with motherhood and find time to meet Mr. Right. Of course, with Paula, first, she falls for Mr. Why-in-the-world Would You Go There? Not only did she need to meet somebody wonderful–which Chase is, she needed a true, honest friend to steer her in the right direction. And that’s where Tyne came in. He’s her hot fellow chef who has no problem speaking his mind and still charming you. In my plot points, Tyne is a minor character, but when I wrote him, he leapt off the page for me. It was as if he was born whole, like Athena, who stepped out of Zeus’s head in full armor. I fell instantly in love with Tyne. So do most women. He has to fight them off.
So, why, in book four, do I give one of my all-time, favorite characters such a hard time? That wasn’t my intention. I started his book all happy and upbeat. The thing about Tyne, though, is that he feels so REAL to me that when he hits the skids on his way to his big, black moment, I felt it. And since I suffered for him, unfortunately for him, he felt it even more. So did my poor husband. When Tyne was unhappy, that made me unhappy, and you know the saying—happy wife, happy life. For poor John, when I hit my gloomy chapters, the saying switched to unhappy wife, unhappy life. That darn Tyne actually affected my moods. That’s when John goes to the hardware store:)
I’d like to say that when Daphne became so depressed, she couldn’t eat, the same happened to me. I might lose weight that way. But instead, I overcompensated and ate enough for both of us. Don’t ask. Anyway, I was a bit taken aback when I beat up one of my favorite characters more than I do most. But no fear. I’m writing romance. A happy-ever-after is soon in the offing…after Tyne and Daphne suffer enough.