Unlike most of my antagonists, Martha isn’t an evil person. She’s extremely annoying. The kind of person who gets under your skin like a bad rash.
Martha briefly dated leading man Danny. He told her upfront there would be no strings attached. Lonely and vulnerable, Martha ignored Danny’s conditions and latched onto him, believing that he was the man she was destined to spend her life with. Danny soon met Stephanie and ended his relationship with Martha. But even without Stephanie, Danny had already decided to move on.
Martha’s reaction to their breakup wasn’t what Danny expected. Believing that Danny simply needs a timeout, she fully supports him dating other women. In her mind, dating other women will prove to him, once and for all, that she’s the only woman for him, and she’s willing to wait for as long as it takes. In the meantime, she’ll stay in touch.
She begins with emails and text messages, but when a family member openly disapproves, she switches tactics. Handwritten love letters would eliminate an electronic paper trail. She also thinks handwritten letters are more romantic. Danny never responds to any of her messages. However, he’s keeping all of her letters in a file to build a case against her. This will, unfortunately, have serious unintended consequences for him.
Unlike like Craig Walker, Martha hasn’t set out to intentionally cause any harm. A desperately lonely woman, she’s afraid of being on her own, and unable to accept the fact that Danny isn’t love with her.
We have a saying in the writing business that goes, You can’t make this stuff up. Martha is loosely based on a woman who dated a friend’s husband before he married my friend. The old girlfriend kept writing him love letters thinking he’d come back to her someday. Of course, he never did.
It’s been a difficult couple of weeks for me. One of my cousins, and one of my all time favorite people, passed away rather suddenly and unexpectedly.
A cousin by marriage, I’ve known Dennis since I was ten years old. To me, he was just as much family as his wife. Dennis had a great sense of humor. He always went the extra mile for others, never expecting anything in return. Dennis was also an attorney. And the inspiration for Alex Montoya, the leading man in my second novel, The Deception. In fact, I dedicated The Deception to Dennis.
Like Dennis, Alex was a hard working attorney. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to get justice for leading lady, Carrie. Of course, there are significant differences between the character and his the real-life inspiration. Alex was thirty-something and single. He’s not necessarily looking for love. That’s a prerequisite for a lead character in a romance novel. However, his real life counterpart married his college sweetheart at a young age. Each is a unique individual.
In honor of Dennis, I’m including this brief excerpt from The Deception. Like Alex, Dennis was dedicated to his clients.
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After they ended the call Alex picked up the message sitting on his desk. It was from Louise’s attorney, Jack Collins, who called while he was out. He dialed the number and was immediately connected.
“Thanks for returning my call,” said Collins. “I’ve received the letter you faxed me this morning and I’ve already spoken to my client about it.”
“So what does she have to say? Is she willing to work with us to find out who really sent the photos to Gentry Magazine?”
Stephanie, the leading lady in my latest romance novel, The Letter, has a lot of spunk, and she’s not afraid to call it as she sees it.
A legal secretary, Stephanie has been in a relationship Danny for some time. She wants to know where their relationship is heading, but whenever she brings it up, Danny quickly changes the subject.
Their relationship soons takes an unexpected turn when Stephanie accidentally stumbles on a card another woman sent Danny. Her best friend thinks the sender is nothing more than a lonely ex, but Stephanie remains unconvinced. Is she really an ex? Or has Danny been seeing his old girlfriend on the side? The old girlfriend, however, will soon be the least of her worries. Her entire world soon spirals out of control. And while things aren’t necessarily as they appear, she’ll make a rash decision which changes her life forever.
Stephanie is a purely fictitious character. However, the opening chapter of The Letter is based on a real-life event that happened to a close friend many years ago.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rachel Bennett, the leading lady in my latest romance novel, TheStalker, 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.
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.