Meet Ryan Knight

the villain who almost made my proofreader quit
© Can Stock Photo/ curaphotography

Creating despicable villains is a lot of fun. It’s one my favorite parts of novel writing. These villains do all kinds of outrageous things, making them the characters readers love to hate. However, there are times when it can be too much fun. Take Ryan Knight, from my contemporary romance novel,  The Reunion. Ryan’s appearance in the story is brief. He’s only seen in the flashback chapters. His actions, however, made an impact.

Ryan is a college student who’s about to graduate and embark on his career as an architect. He and the young  Gillian have been dating for two years, but their relationship has become strained. Ryan has been putting in a lot of overtime. He says he’s working late on class projects, but Gillian has her doubts.

A few days after his graduation, Ryan asks Gillian to stop by his apartment. He says he has news he wants to share with her. Gillian believes he’s about to propose to her, but Ryan’s idea of a proposal will be the last thing she expects.

How my team reacted to Ryan

My editor commented that Ryan was, “a bit mental.” Yes, he certainly was. Her remarks confirmed that I had done my job well. Unfortunately, I may have done my job too well, because I thought my proofreader would quit. Ryan had made her truly angry. She told me the story of how she spent a Sunday morning in her apartment complex laundry room, going over the manuscript as she waited for her clothes to wash. As luck would have it, she was proofing one of the Ryan chapters, and he made her so angry that she started cussing in out. In the laundry room. If front of her neighbors, who had no idea what she was raving about.

From this point on I had to keep reassuring her that Ryan only appeared four chapters. That was it. He would make his exit in chapter six. After that, his name would rarely be mentioned. Thankfully, she stayed on board.

Three real-life men were the inspiration for Ryan. My ex-husband, a moody ex-boyfriend, and a good friend’s ex-husband. None were known for their virtue.

I loved working with Delores. While she may have hated Ryan, she gave me good insight for other parts of my story. She was the office manager at the repair shop where I got my car serviced, but by the time I started working on my next contemporary romance novel she had moved on, and, unfortunately,  my only contact info was her work email address. 

Marina Martindale

Meet Gillian Matthews

a lead character in THE REUNION

A smiling woman with long blonde hair.
© Can Stock Photo / photography33

Gillian Matthews, a lead characters in my contemporary romance novel, The Reunion, has had a successful career as an artist and a little fame to go along with it. Her personal life, however, has been a disappointment. Gillian has a knack for getting involved with the wrong men. This will change when travels to Denver for a gallery opening, and man from her past will suddenly reappears.

 Ian Palmer is the one man she never got over. They soon resume their relationship, but Gillian’s world will shatter once again when something unexpected occurs behind the scenes. As the story progresses, Gillian will become the object of affection from a new, and much younger man, while Ian attempts to win her back for a third time.

Gillian is based on a real person. Me. I was a graphic designer before I became a writer, and I’ve often wondered what would have happened had I made different choices. So, I created Gillian as an opportunity to imagine the possibilities of what could have been.

Marina Martindale


Meet Ian Palmer

a lead character in THE REUNION

(c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / photography33

Ian Palmer first appears in my contemporary romance novel, The Reunion, as a middle-aged man. He has had a successful career as an architect, working his way to a top position with a large firm. His personal life, however, has been less than stellar. Ian married the wrong woman for the wrong reasons, and the marriage ended badly. Now his life is about to change. He has a second chance with Gillian, his long-lost love. However, his new-found happiness will soon be put to the test as Ian struggles to balance Gillian, parenthood, and his career, which is about to come to an unexpected and untimely end.

Ian also appears as a young man. During the flashback chapters he’s an outgoing but ambitious college student who meets Gillian, the girlfriend of one of his classmates. The two quickly become friends. Later on, they become much more. Unfortunately, Ian’s ambition and desire to succeed will be their undoing.

ASU Architecture College, circa 1983.

The inspiration for this younger Ian comes from someone I once knew, years ago. He was an architecture student at Arizona State, and the scene where Ian and Gillian first meet is based on a real-life event. This is why Ian will always be one of my favorite characters. There are some people we simply never forget. Of course Ian Palmer wasn’t his real name, and the character has his own unique personality. All of my characters, whether they are inspired by real people or not, are unique individuals. That’s what makes creating them so much fun.

Marina Martindale