Meet Danny Woodruff, the Leading Man in THE LETTER

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Hard working and ambitious Danny Woodruff is my most complicated leading man to date. He intends to work his way up the corporate ladder; all the way to the top. He also loves leading lady Stephanie. Or at least he thinks he does, in his own way. Unfortunately, Danny has a problem. He’s haunted by women from his past.


Danny and Stephanie have been in a relationship for some time. She wants to know where things are going, but whenever she brings it up, he changes the subject. He’s perfectly happy with the status quo, and he’s not sure if he even wants a wife and family. As the story unfolds we learn more about Danny’s past and his struggle to overcome it. However, the ending may not be what you were expecting. 


Danny is a composite character inspired by men I’ve known in the past. He may not be my most likable leading man, but he’s probably the most realistic.

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Meet Craig Walker

the Evil Villain from THE STALKER

A photo of a man sitting in front of a computer.
© Can Stock Photo / Elenathewise

Few things are more fun about this job than creating truly evil, nasty, vile antagonists. And when it comes to mean, nasty and downright evil, Craig Walker from The Stalker is an absolute delight.


A writer by profession, Craig met leading lady Rachel while working as a staff writer for a regional lifestyle magazine. Rachel considered Craig a mentor, but he had much bigger plans for her, and they went well above and beyond being her mentor. Those plans, however, were suddenly foiled when she accepted a promotion he felt she didn’t deserve. Unaware that she had applied for the position, he reacted with rage, and after an ugly confrontation she ended the friendship. Craig, however, had no intention of letting Rachel go. He began stalking her, long after the magazine went out of business. Craig wants Rachel, and he intends to have her at all costs, whether she wants him or not. Now he’s come up with plan for getting his way with her, once and for all.


The inspiration Craig came from a man who stalked someone I knew, and he made her life miserable for years.


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Writing Dialog and Experiencing my Character’s Emotions

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© Can Stock Photo / Escander81

One of my cousins used to be an actress. She once told me how she experienced her characters’ emotions as she portrayed them. She said performing emotionally charged scenes often left her feeling drained.

The same is true for me as a novel writer. With nearly every character I create, I experience their emotions as I write. Writing dialog is what drives those emotions.

I’m currently working on my next novel, The Letter. Leading man Danny has a serious problem. Martha, a woman from his past, refuses to let him go. I’ve been building up to a major confrontation between the two for sometime. This past week I finally wrote the chapter where their conflict reaches its crescendo. I expected this scene to be fun to write. Martha has caused Danny a lot of grief, and I wanted him to feel vindicated. However, as I wrote the dialog, I started feeling emotions I didn’t expect to feel.

Danny begins the conversation in a civil tone, telling Martha he wants no further contact, but an obsessed Martha refuses to listen to reason. As the scene plays out, Danny becomes more and more frustrated. As he tries to get through to her, his tone becomes more harsh. Then, in the middle of it all, I started feeling anxious myself. Harsh words, even when justified, can hurt like a fist. Some of the verbiage brought back bad memories of arguments I’ve had in my own past. By the time I finished writing the scene I felt as if I’d been sucker punched.

I planned on writing Martha out of the story after this scene, but now I think I’ll keep her around. She has a real knack for pissing people off, and talent like hers shouldn’t go to waste. While another antagonist will be the main focus for the remainder of the story, Martha will seek revenge on those who she thinks turned Danny against her.

The Letter should be available by the spring of 2018. Meantime I’m going to go chill for awhile.


Marina Martindale

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Meet Annette

The Mistress You’ll Love to Hate in THE BETRAYAL

A young woman with long, red hair.
© Can Stock Photo / photolux

There are two kinds of women who get involved with married men. Some are like Carrie, the leading lady in my earlier novel, The Deception. They’re duped into believing the man is single and available. Then there is the other kind. She knows upfront the man is married, but chooses to get involved with him anyway.


Annette, one of the antagonists in The Betrayal, is the latter. Not only does she know, from the get-go, that Jesse is a married man, she also knows his wife, Emily. Jesse, however, is nothing if not charming and seductive. He takes full advantage of the fact that Annette has become disillusioned with her significant other, and he uses it as the catalyst to initiate their affair.

Annette thinks she’s doing Emily a favor by breaking them up. She knows Emily put her dream of becoming a concert pianist on hold to help Jesse with his career. Therefore, she is, “helping” Emily by freeing her so she can finally pursue her dream. Emily, however, doesn’t quite see it that way.


Jesse soon tires of Annette. He ends the affair and tries to win Emily back. Annette, however, has no intention of going quietly into the night. She comes up with her own desperate scheme to get Jesse back. The consequences of which will forever change the lives of everyone involved.


Annette is a purely fictitious character, and, thankfully, not inspired by anyone I’ve ever encountered. There are, unfortunately, plenty of real life Annettes out there. That’s what makes her the woman you’ll love to hate.


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Meet Jesse St. Claire the Unfaithful Husband in The Betrayal

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What would a romance novel of betrayal and adultery be without a cheating spouse? Jesse St. Claire, the unfaithful husband in The Betrayal, is perhaps my most complicated and enigmatic antagonist to date. Unlike Scott Andrews, the cheating husband in my earlier novel, The Deception, Jesse really isn’t a player. In fact, he’s never cheated before. A highly successful motivational speaker, Jesse steadfastly claims to love his wife, and, in his own strange way, he does. Or, at least he thinks he does.


Jesse has built his career on helping people take control of their lives, but his own life begins spiraling out of control when his wife, Emily, catches him in the act with Annette, his personal assistant. As Emily packs her bags and walks out the door, a determined Jesse tries to come up with a plan to win her back. Not only does he want to save his marriage, he also wants to save his career. Unfortunately for Jesse, bad habits prove difficult to break. His past soon comes back to haunt him, forcing him to once again betray his wife.


Jesse is a fictitious character not based on anyone I know. His inspiration comes from many stories of unfaithful men who claim to love their wives, which, for those of us who don’t cheat, is something we can never fully understand.


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Meet Rachel Bennett Leading Lady in The Stalker

A woman with blonde hair sitting in front of a computer.
© Can Stock Photo / oksun70

Rachel Bennett, the leading lady in my latest romance novel, The Stalker, has a serious problem. A man from her past is obsessed with her.


A graphic designer, Rachel has recently returned to her hometown of Tucson, Arizona. She’s come to attend her ten-year high school reunion, where she’s reintroduced to Shane MacLeod. Shane was a fellow classmate whom she briefly met while serving on the yearbook committee. Rachel may not remember Shane, but he certainly remembers her. As they’re busy getting reacquainted, another man from Rachel’s past suddenly reappears. Craig Walker, a former coworker, has been stalking and harassing her for the past few years. And no matter how hard she tries to seek justice, the system keeps failing her.


Fortunately for Rachel, it’s all about to change. With Shane’s help, things finally appear to be working in her favor. But unknown to both of them, Craig is about take his revenge, and Rachel’s life will never be the same.


Rachel was inspired by an acquaintance who was once hounded by a former colleague. She’s a courageous woman determined to regain control of her life, and she’s not afraid to back down from a fight.


Marina Martindale

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Meet Shane MacLeod

Leading Man from THE STALKER

A young businessman holding a smartphone.
© Can Stock Photo / boggy

My editor loved Shane. She thought he was the best leading man since Alex Montoya in The Deception, and she has a point. Both will do whatever it takes to protect and defend the women they love, and both were “nerdy” kids when they were young.


Rachel and Shane went to the same high school, but they had different circles of friends. Shane hung out with a couple of other nerdy kids, known as “The Math Club.” Rachel was on the yearbook committee, and she took their club photo. She may not have noticed him, he certainly noticed her. Fast-forward to their ten year class reunion. Shane has gone from a nerdy teenager to a handsome, accomplished man. He soon spots Rachel and invites her to join him at his table. Rachel accepts. The two quickly become friends, but little they know that another man from Rachel’s past intends to destroy her, and he will stop at nothing to get to her.


Like Alex, Shane is a purely fictitious character not inspired by anyone I’ve known in real life. Tis a pity indeed.


By the way, if you liked, The Deception, you’ll certainly like The Stalker. Along with similar leading men, both leading women have enemies who intend to destroy them at all costs. There is also a supporting character who appears in both books.

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Meet Beau Fowler

The Corrupt Cop in THE BETRAYAL

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Sometimes the people we think we can trust the most are the very people who’ll betray us. The Betrayal is a good cop vs bad cop story. Kyle Madden, the leading man, is a good cop. He risks his career and his life to save Emily, the leading lady. However his partner, Beau Fowler, is also his nemesis. 


A thirty-year police veteran, Beau has caught his fair share of bad guys. During that time, however, he’s also been passed up for promotions, oftentimes by younger officers he helped train. Now his luck appears to be changing. He’s been called to investigate a suspicious death at the home of a well-known motivational speaker. It’s the high profile case he’s been waiting for. All he has to do is get a conviction and he’s sure to get his long overdue promotion; even if it means framing an innocent woman. In Beau’s mind, people sometimes have the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  


Beau Fowler is a purely fictitious character. Sadly, his inspiration is the occasional bad cop out there who inflicts harm innocent citizens. Fortunately, such officers are rare. Most police officers are like Kyle; good people who put their lives on the line each and everyday. 


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Meet Emily St. Claire Leading Lady in The Betrayal

A photo of a woman seated in front of a piano.
© Can Stock Photo/ eZeePicsStudio

I wanted make Emily St. Claire, the female lead in my romance novel, The Betrayal, a loving, devoted wife. She’s happily married to Jesse, her college sweetheart. She also put her dream of becoming a concert pianist on hold, working as an office manager so Jesse could launch his own career. Now he’s become successful, and it’s her turn to pursue her dream.


Emily’s world is about to turn upside down. She’ll get the shock of her life when she discovers Jesse has been unfaithful. However, she’s nothing if not resilient. She returns home to her father, and her piano, determined to follow her dreams. However, her life will soon take another unexpected turn. An unforeseen tragedy will lead her to  Kyle, a man who’ll love her unconditionally. But first Kyle will have to save her from another enemy, determined to destroy her.


I wanted Emily to be the polar opposite of Maggie Andrews, the betrayed wife in The Deception. Both women have been deeply hurt by their husband’s infidelity. A bitter, unhappy woman, Maggie uses her husband’s affair as an excuse to destroy another person’s life. She believes doing so will somehow make her feel vindicated. Emily, on the other hand, tries her best to handle her husband’s infidelity with grace and dignity. Unfortunately for her, another man will take advantage of her vulnerability. She’ll make a decision she will later regret, and that others will use against her.


While Emily is a fictitious character, the inspiration for her story came from two different friends. One caught his ex-wife in the act. The other friend’s mother was unfaithful, and it tore the family apart. Adultery doesn’t just harm the injured spouse. It affects others as well, and both The Betrayal, and The Deception, are stories about the long term consequences of infidelity.


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Meet Denise Sanderson the Evil Nurse in The Journey

Image of a nurse holding a clipboard.
© Can Stock Photo / geotrac

If I had to list the most evil of the villains I’ve created so far in any of my romance novels, Denise Sanderson would most  certainly near at the top. She’s the last person readers would expect to be so evil.


Denise is a young nurse. At first she appears to be genuinely compassionate and caring. However, Denise has a darker side. When she was in nursing school, she frequented a bar called O’Malley’s Grill, and soon fell in love with one of the bartenders. Jeremy Palmer. Unfortunately for Denise, Jeremy, didn’t feel the same. When she tried to come onto him, he turned her down. Jeremy soon moved on, but Denise neither forgave, nor forgot, his rejection.


Jeremy and Denise would meet again, this time under different circumstances. Denise, now a nurse, has been assigned to care for Jeremy’s wife. Cassie has been seriously injured in a car crash. Denise quickly befriends both Cassie and Jeremy, and while Jeremy can’t quite place her, she seems familiar nonetheless. He feels he can trust her, but Denise will use his trust to unleash her revenge, and Jeremy’s life will never be the same.


Denise is a fictitious character, but she also represents a deep-seeded fear many of us may have. What if the people we trust to take care of us during our most vulnerable times really don’t have our best interests in mind?


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