They say there are certain things you should never ask an author or creative writer. One of them is, “Can I be a character in your book?”
For a time, however, this was a running joke between me and one of my friends. First, he dropped me an oh so subtle hint in my birthday card. Then, whenever we’d run into one another, he’d tease me and say, “Hey, can I be a character in your book?” I’d tease him back and reply, “Sure. How do you want to die?”
Oh, if you only knew
Here’s the real butt of of the joke. Some of my friends actually are in my contemporary romance novels, as they are inspiration for some of my characters. Ian, in The Reunion, is loosely based on an old college boyfriend. Lauren in The Scandal was inspired by a family member, and the idea for Craig in The Stalker came from someone harassing a friend on Facebook.
That said, my characters are all unique individuals. Each has their own distinct personality, including their own quirks. My protagonists aren’t perfect. They make their fair share of mistakes. Some of my antagonists are downright chilling. Others are good people who’ve made bad choices. But regardless of whether the character is inspired by a real person, or someone I created from scratch, all are believable, three-dimensional people who readers can connect to.
So, did I ever put my friend in one of my books?
Well, sort of. There is a supporting character in my upcoming contemporary romance novel, The Diversion, who is somewhat similar to my real-life friend. Both are professional musicians, and both are serious about making careers in the music business.
Director Charles McKenna, a lead character in my latest contemporary romance novel, The Scandal, has been drawn to Lauren McAllen for some time. Lauren, however, is unaware of it. For the past few years they’ve been working closely together a top rated soap opera. Lauren has recently left the show, hoping to break into feature films, while Chuck wants out of Hollywood for good.
The son of a set nurse and a director of B-rated horror films, Chuck grew up in the entertainment industry. He too thought he wanted a career in movies and television. However, after years of grueling hours directing a soap opera, he’s burned out and no longer sure of what he wants. His plan is to relocate to Colorado once his contract is up. As much as he wants Lauren, having such different goals means any romance between them would be short lived, so he decides to keep it as just friends. Fate, however, has other plans for both Chuck and Lauren. Each experiences their own unforeseen tragedies which turn both of their lives upside down and will forever redefine their relationship.
Chuck is a fictitious character who represents the type of man most women would like to have as a friend as well as a life partner.
Lauren McAllen, one of the lead characters in my contemporary romance novel, The Scandal, has achieved fame in a town where few become successful. For the past ten years she’s played an iconic vamp on a top-rated soap opera, making her a household name and the woman fans love to hate. Now she’s ready to move on and become a star on the big screen.
Once again, luck appears to be on Lauren’s side. Hollywood mogul Calvin Michaelson has seen her work, and he soon offers her a supporting role in a feature film. For Lauren, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime and dream come true. However, it may come at a price. While Cal has made other women famous, he has a reputation for expecting certain favors in return. Unfortunately for Lauren, Cal is accused of a serious wrongdoing before the camera starts rolling, and she will soon find herself caught up in a major scandal which rocks Hollywood.
Lauren is a fictitious character. Her inspiration came from a cousin who once played on a soap opera many years ago. However, Lauren is a unique individual and her life is very different from from my cousin’s.
Stephanie Ellis, a lead character in my contemporary 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 going, but whenever she brings it up, he quickly changes the subject.
Their relationship will soon takes an unexpected turn when Stephanie accidentally stumbles on a card an old girlfriend sent to 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 as her entire world will 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.
Danny Woodruff, a lead character in my contemporary romance novel, The Letter, is my most complicated character to date. He’s hardworking and ambitious. His goal is to work his way up the corporate ladder, regardless of what it takes to get there. He also in love with Stephanie. At least in his own way. Unfortunately for her, Danny has a problem. He’s haunted by not one, but two, women from his past.
The Letter begins with Danny and Stephanie in a long-term relationship. Stephanie is ready to make a commitment. She wants marriage and a family. However, every time she brings it up, Danny changes the subject. He’s perfectly happy with the status quo. In fact, he’s not sure if he even wants a wife and family.
Things will suddenly change when Stephanie accidentally stumbles on a love letter to Danny from an old girlfriend. 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 loosely based on several men I’ve known in the past. He may not be my most likable lead character, but he’s probably the most realistic.
Rachel Bennett, a lead character in my contemporary romance novel, The Stalker, has a serious problem. A man from her past is obsessed with her, and he intends to have her at all costs.
Rachel has recently returned to her hometown of Tucson, Arizona, where she is attending her ten-year high school reunion. She’ll soon be reintroduced to Shane MacLeod, 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, is a former coworker who’s been stalking and harassing her for years.
Rachel has tried her best to stop Craig’s harassment, but the system keeps failing her. Finally, with Shane’s help, things appear to be working in her favor. But unknown to both of them, Craig is about take his revenge, and when he does, Rachel’s life will never be the same.
Rachel is loosely based on a friend who was once hounded for years by a former colleague. However, she wasn’t afraid to push back.
My editor loved Shane, one of the lead characters in my contemporary romance novel, The Stalker. She thought he was the best leading man since Alex Montoya, from my contemporary romance novel, The Deception. She has a point. Both men will do whatever it takes to protect and defend the women they love, and both were the nerdy kids when they were young.
Rachel and Shane attended the same high school, but they had different circles of friends. Shane hung out with a couple of other nerdy kids, and they formed The Math Club. Rachel was on the yearbook committee, and she took their club photo for the yearbook. She may not have noticed Shane, he certainly noticed her. Unfortunately, he was too shy to pursue her.
Shane and Rachel would meet again at their ten-year class reunion. Over the past decade, 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. She accepts the invitation, and the two quickly become friends. Little they know, however, that another man from Rachel’s past intends to destroy her, and he will stop at nothing to get to her.
Shane is a purely fictitious character. By the way, if you liked, The Deception, you’ll like TheStalker. Along with similar leading men, both leading women have enemies who intend to destroy them at all costs. There’s also a supporting character who appears in both books.
I wanted make Emily St. Claire, one of the lead characters in my contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal, a loving, devoted wife. Emily is 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.
Unfortunately for Emily, her world is about to turn upside down. She’ll get the shock of her life when she discovers Jesse has been unfaithful. However, Emily is nothing if not resilient. She returns home to her father, and her piano, determined to follow her dreams. Then her life will soon take another unexpected turn when unforeseen tragedy leads 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. Maggie, however, is a bitter and unhappy woman who 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 will 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’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.
We first meet Cassie in my contemporary romance novel, The Reunion, when Gillian and Jeremy stop for breakfast at a truck stop diner in Idaho Springs, Colorado. The diner owner is none other than Gillian’s long-long best friend, Samantha Walsh. As they get reacquainted, Samantha introduces them to her daughter, Cassie. A student at UCCS, Cassie has taken a few days off from school to visit her mother. Once introduced, she only stays with the others for a few minutes before excusing herself. Jeremy watches her as steps away, and his life will never be the same.
Cassie and Jeremy soon become friends, and as the story unfolds their relationship changes. Cassie returns in my contemporary romance novel, The Journey, this time as a lead character. Her world will quickly turn upside down when she’s seriously injured in a car crash, and Jeremy will mysteriously vanish before she leaves the hospital. Cassie is left to start a new life without him, yet through it all, she remains resilient.
Cassie is a purely fictitious character who is best described as grace under pressure. She’s certainly an inspiration for those times when we feel overwhelmed by all life’s obstacles.
Funny how things sometimes work out. Jeremy Palmer was intended to be a rogue character in my earlier contemporary romance novel, The Reunion. He would make a brief appearance, do his dirty deed, and disappear into the night. However, things don’t always go as planned, as I soon realized that Ian could never have such an evil son. Thus Jeremy went from rogue villain to rival, competing with his father for Gillian’s affections. It created a storyline that many readers tell me was their favorite part of the book. Jeremy blossomed. Okay, he jumped off the page. He became a sexy, vibrant character worthy of having his own novel, The Journey.
The Journey begins approximately eighteen months after The Reunion has ended. A happily married engineer, Jeremy’s world suddenly turns upside down. His wife, Cassie, has been seriously injured in a car crash. Jeremy rushes to the hospital and stays by her side. As Cassie slowly recovers the two befriend Denise, one of Cassie’s nurses. Denise seems familiar, but Jeremy can’t quite place her. Denise, however, has never forgotten how he jilted her, years before. She wants a second chance, and she’s about to unleash an evil plan to win him back.
Jeremy is a purely fictitious character, although his character is similar to the young Ian seen in the flashback chapters of The Reunion. The inspiration for the younger Ian comes from someone I knew, long ago, and, just like his father, Jeremy will make his fair share of mistakes, no doubt leaving some readers saying, “Like father, like son.”