My upcoming contemporary romance novel, The Scandal, has been interesting to write, to say the least. Ask any author. They’ll tell you all books present their challenges, but we work through them. Some, however, are more challenging than others. The Scandal has presented its fair share of issues, but also it’s been a fun book to write. I’ve honestly enjoyed the additional time. Truth be told, I don’t want this book to end.
Is it life imitating art, or is art imitating life?
The Scandal takes place in Hollywood. Lead character Lauren McAllen is a soap opera star who wants to break into films. However, as luck would have it, the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the MeToo movement started up while I was working on the treatment. (The treatment is a summary of what the story will be about.) Sometimes life imitates art, but did it have to go this far? I take pride in writing original stories. I also keep my books politically neutral.
Striving to keep my story separate from any real-life scandals was a challenge. My lead antagonist may be a cad, but he’s not a predator. There is a difference between the two. My characters are also unique individuals, and my antagonist is the kind of guy you’d like to slap across the face. He’s powerful, complex and seductive, but he isn’t skin crawling creepy. He also has some redeeming qualities. Bottom line, I’m really pleased with the way he’s turned out, and I think my readers will like him too.
People often ask me what motivated me to become an author. Or why I write contemporary romance. I blame it on my misspent youth. I was a soap opera junkie for many years. It began when I was in the sixth grade and it continued well into adulthood. I suppose I could blame it on my mother too. Instead of telling me to go do something more productive, she got me started on her soaps.
I used to schedule my college classes around my soaps. Mind you, this was in The Dark Ages, before we had the Internet, so having my first VCR was a truly liberating experience. I could now have a life. I was able to tape my soaps and watch them at my convenience. I taped my favorite soap everyday for many years.
What makes soap operas so compelling?
So, what was it about soap operas that was so compelling? According to Mrs. Fields, my high school drama teacher, soap operas were real life, exaggerated. Soap operas relied on classic plot lines, such as extra-marital affairs, illegitimate children, and long-lost family members. Viewers could make a connection because they were believable stories.
The other thing that made the soaps so compelling were the characters. I never watched the now defunct All My Children, but I certainly knew who Erica Kane was. Dr. Marlena Evans on Days of our Lives was my personal favorite. Two great actresses, Susan Lucci and Deidre Hall, turned these characters into believable, three-dimensional people. So much so that the characters became iconic.
I too strive to create believable, three-dimensional characters in my contemporary romance novels, such as Ian Palmer and Gillian Matthews, in The Reunion, and Carrie Daniels and Alex Montoya, in The Deception. I also work hard to create believable stories. My plot lines twist and turn, just like a soap opera. My characters get involved with the wrong people. Long-lost lovers are reunited, and people are betrayed by the ones they trust the most. In other words, they’re real life, somewhat exaggerated.