When writers on panels used to talk about themes, I never really knew if my stories had any. I don’t start a book and say to myself, This is the theme. Instead, I get an idea. For LOVE ON TAP, I needed a woman chef to come to Mill Pond to work at Ian’s inn, because I wanted to write the story from her POV. Why did she come? Because she fell in love, got married, had two small children, and then her military husband got killed overseas. Now, she’s a single mom, trying to juggle raising her kids with her job as a chef. It’s tricky, so she leaves the prestigious restaurant she cooks at in New York to work at Ian’s resort in Mill Pond. That way, she can spend more time with Aiden and Bailey and keep them close. Time passes, and she finally starts thinking she might want more in life. She might be ready to meet someone new. And therein starts the romance. It’s a slower start than usual, and to be honest, I’m a little worried about that, but Paula’s been out of the dating scene for a while. She’s only dipping her toe in the water, and she’s out of practice. Heck, she doesn’t even get it right the first time.
Luckily for her, she lives in Mill Pond. And when Ian’s resort gets so busy she’s working as many hours as she did in New York, Ian decides that she needs an assistant chef. Enter hottie, world-traveler Tyne Newsome, whom she loves like a brother. Period. He has no interest in her, either, but oh, does he love to give her free advice. And he’s sure she’s picked the wrong guy. Worse, he tries to steer her in what he considers the right direction.
That’s the set-up for the book, and after I figure that out, then the book’s characters start jabbering in my head, ready to dive into their roles. I get attached to them and a story unravels as the protagonist tries to find what she needs to be happy again. I’m usually finishing the book before I recognize its theme. For LOVE ON TAP, I dealt with being a single mom who loves her kids and her career, who searches for a man who’ll make her happy, but will also add to her children’s lives. The book also touches on how to move forward when a spouse dies, how to move past grief.
Every genre has certain, built-in expectations. Mysteries deal with crime. Suspense pits a good guy against a bad guy or situation. Thrillers have a ticking clock. Fantasy often deals with a quest, and romance deals with a happy-ever-after. But those are just the frames the stories are built on. Themes give them depth. But don’t worry if you sit down and have no idea what that theme will be. Usually, your characters will tell you.
I posted a short snippet from Love On Tap on my webpage, if you’re interested: http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/
Author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/