I’m Going Back to Hollywood

© Can Stock Photo / PerseoMedusa

I’m going back to Hollywood for my next contemporary romance novel. This time my lead character is a musician whose dream is to become a recording star.

The Harvey Weinstein story broke while I was in the early planning stages for my last contemporary romance novel, The Scandal, which also takes place in Hollywood. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, the real-life scandal really threw a wrench into my plans. My original intention was for my lead antagonist, studio head Calvin Michaelson, to be a sexual manipulator, but with the Weinstein scandal came the #Me Too movement. I keep politics out of my novels, and the last thing I wanted was for my book to become politicized. So, after many, many revisions and rewrites, Cal ended up becoming a redeemable character, and I had to place many of his negative traits into another antagonist, tabloid journalist Randy Hall

This time around things are different. Weinstein is now serving twenty-three years in the pen, as well he should be, and the #MeToo movement seems to have run its course. Now I can finally create the villain I wanted to create in The Scandal. His name is George Monroe. He’s a high-level executive with a record company, and he’s going to be like the devil incarnate. Charming, compassionate and caring on the outside, but underneath the mask is a manipulative control freak who micromanages the lives of those around him for his own narcissistic pleasure. The working title is, The Diversion, although it may be subject to change. What I can tell you for certain is this is going to be fun write.

Marina Martindale

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Meet Randy Hall

The Villainous Antagonist in The Scandal

© Can Stock Photo/ yacobchuk

All stories have their antagonists, and in my latest contemporary romance novel, The Scandal, Randy Hall is perhaps one of my most villainous characters to date. Randy is the ex-husband of lead character Lauren McAllen, and his goal is to destroy her at all costs.

Randy and Lauren had a dream marriage until Randy developed an addiction disorder, leaving Lauren no alternative but to file for divorce once the marriage became toxic. Randy, however, doesn’t think he has a problem. He sees Lauren’s departure as abandonment, and, in Lauren’s words, “no one dumps Randy Hall and gets away with it.” As the story unfolds Lauren is unwittingly caught up in a major Hollywood scandal, which Randy skillfully uses as a weapon to wreak havoc on her life and her career.

Many of us have experienced relationships which started out well, only to unravel because, unknown to us at the time, the person we became involved with had an addiction disorder. Unfortunately, people with addictions don’t come with warning labels, and addicts are oftentimes masters at hiding their addictions until it becomes too late. Once the addiction becomes known some partners will end the relationship as quickly as possible, while others may go into their own form of denial, believing they can change the addict. It’s a great romantic fairytale, but one I will never write about, because the reality is that the only person who can change the addict is the addict him or herself. In the real world the so-called helpful partner becomes the enabler who reinforces the addiction, and the relationship typically doesn’t end well.

Randy is a composite character whose inspiration comes from a few men I’ve known in the past who, sadly, turned out to have addictive disorders. Thankfully, none were as toxic as Randy, and none of the relationships lasted long.

Marina Martindale

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Meet Calvin Michaelson

the Villain Turned Hero in The Scandal

© Can Stock Photo/ corolanty

Sometimes life imitates art. The Harvey Weinstein scandal broke shortly after I had decided to write a contemporary romance novel about Hollywood. This created an unexpected challenge as I strive to create unique, original characters. Therefore, I would have to make a point of not having a character with too close of a resemblance to Mr. Weinstein. Enter Calvin Michaelson, a Hollywood mogul and the catalyst for The Scandal.

I had envisioned Cal as a predator, but he would be similar to Roman Polanski. Unfortunately, it came out way too creepy for my taste. I wrote a couple of revisions, but Cal remained too creepy. Novel writing, like other endeavours, doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes what sounds good in a treatment, or the story summary, simply doesn’t work once pen is put to paper, as was certainly the case here. The character would have to be reinvented. So, after much thought, Cal went from a creepy predator to a Hugh Hefner like playboy. He’s a womanizer who makes no apologies for who he is. Unfortunately, like many of his real-life counterparts, Cal will become his own undoing and he soon finds himself in the middle of scandal that rocks Hollywood. Later on, however, Cal will become an unlikely hero, and readers will discover a hidden side to this complex character.

Calvin Michaelson is a purely fictional character. His inspiration comes from powerful men who thought they were too big to fall and thus became their own undoing.

Marina Martindale

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Yikes! I’ve Created Another Sexy Villain

© Can Stock Photo / Ostill

Ask any fiction author. They’ll tell you characters have minds of their own. Believe me, I have experienced this phenomenon many times myself. There’ve been many times when a character came out differently than planned, and it’s always been for the better.


Villains in particular have a certain quality about them. They’re typically more complex, more charismatic and, for lack of a better word, sexy. Jeremy Palmer in my debut contemporary romance novel, The Reunion was the first. Originally intended to be a rogue character who would do his dirty deed and disappear, Jeremy ended up having a special charisma. He went from being a rouge to becoming a rival who would compete with his father to win Gillian’s affections. Josh Ramsey in my later contemporary romance novel, The Letter was intended to be a conman. Then the chemistry between him and Stephanie unexpectedly sizzled. So I revamped him into a mystery man.


I strive to make my villains as despicable as I can. There’s nothing more fun than seeing a villain we love to hate get their comeuppance. Some of my more dastardly villains include Scott Andrews in my contemporary romance novel, The Deception. Scott was a married man presenting himself as a single man to entice unsuspecting single women. Then there’s Beau Fowler, the corrupt detective in The Betrayal. He tried to frame an innocent woman for a crime she didn’t commit. And finally, there’s Craig Walker, the sociopathic villain in The Stalker. He’ll resort to kidnapping and murder to get what he wants. 


Now it’s happening again. This time it’s Calvin Michaelson, in my upcoming contemporary romance novel, The Scandal. Cal’s a Hollywood mogul with a reputation as a playboy. Intended to be a despicable villain for readers to hate, his character became more dynamic than expected. He too is being revamped. He’ll still be a playboy, but at the end of the story a new and completely unexpected side to Cal will be revealed. 


The Scandal will be available later this summer.

Marina Martindale

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Meet Martha Morrison

A photo of a smiling woman typing on a computer.
© Can Stock Photo / zdenkamicka

the Antagonist in THE LETTER

Unlike most of my antagonists, Martha Morrison, from my contemporary romance novel, The Letter, isn’t an evil person. She is, however, extremely annoying. The kind of person who gets under your skin like a bad rash.

Martha briefly dated lead character Danny, who told her upfront there would be no strings attached. Lonely and vulnerable, Martha ignored Danny’s conditions and latched onto him, believing he was the man she was destined to spend her life with. Unfortunately for Martha, Danny soon met Stephanie and ended his relationship with her. But even if Stephanie hadn’t come along, Danny had already decided to move on. 


Martha’s reaction to their breakup wasn’t what Danny expected. She believes he simply needs a timeout, and 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.

Martha begins sending Danny emails and text messages, but when a family member finds out and tells her he disapproves, Martha switches tactics. Handwritten love letters would eliminate an electronic paper trail. She also thinks they’re more romantic. Danny, however, never responds to any of her messages. He thinks if he ignores her long enough she’ll get the message and move on. In the meantime, he’s keeping all of her cards and letters on 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.


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. 


Marina Martindale

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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 writing contemporary romance novels 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 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 Rachel accepted a promotion he felt she didn’t deserve. Unaware that she had applied for the position, he reacted with rage, and Rachel soon ended the friendship. Craig, however, had no intention of letting Rachel go. He began stalking her, and it continued 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. At long last, he’s finally come up with plan for getting his way with her, once and for all.


Craig is loosely a man who cyber stalked and harassed someone I knew, and he made her life miserable for years.


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 female lead in my earlier contemporary romance novel, The Deception. They’re duped into believing the man is single and available. Then there is the other kind of woman. She knows upfront the man is married, but chooses to get involved with him anyway.


Annette Claiborne, one of the antagonists in my contemporary romance novel,  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, in her mind, 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 ends the affair and tries win Emily back, but Annette, 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. She isn’t based on anyone I’ve ever encountered. Unfortunately, plenty of real-life Annettes out there. That’s what makes her the woman you’ll love to hate.


Marina Martindale

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Meet Jesse St. Claire

Photo of a man sitting with his laptop and talking on the phone.
© Can Stock Photo / dolgachov

 

the unfaithful husband in The Betrayal

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


Jesse has built his career on helping people take control of their lives. His own life, however, will spiral 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, who, thank goodness, isn’t based on anyone I know. His inspiration came from anecdotal stories of unfaithful men who claimed to love their wives. However, for those of us who don’t cheat, this is something we can never fully understand.


Marina Martindale

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A Sample Read from The Stalker

 

 

 

The inspiration for my contemporary novels comes from all kinds of places, including social media. In fact, the idea for my contemporary romance novel, The Stalker, came from a Facebook fued.

For better or worse, Facebook has become a part of our culture, and a few years ago a bitter feud erupted on my Facebook newsfeed. A friend’s former colleague had a falling out with her. She had blocked him Facebook, but his so-called friends and supporters enabled him to continue stalking her by sending him screenshots of her Facebook posts. This included posts about her job, her family, and even her children. He would then use her posts to smear her, and her family, on his newsfeed.

No one deserves to be bullied and harassed on social media. My friend took her harasser to court, and the judge put a stop to it once and for all. However, the legal system takes time, so this feud went on for at least a year. As a writer, I saw this as a good premise for novel. Most people assume stalking is limited to former lovers, but it isn’t the case at at. Anyone can be a potential stalker, although stalking itself is a rare phenomenon. I talked it over with my friend, and she gave me her okay to use her experience as the inspiration for my novel.

While inspired by real-life events, The Stalker, is a unique and fictional story. It’s also a much darker and creepier story. Craig Walker, a successful freelance writer, is stalking Rachel Bennett, a former coworker. Rachel had once considered Craig a mentor, but their friendship soured when she got a promotion he thought she didn’t deserve. Now Criag out for revenge, and he intends to destroy Rachel, once and for all. 

Below is a short excerpt from The Stalker. The Stalker is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

Marina Martindale

An excerpt from The Stalker

Rachel waited until Shane was gone before turning her attention back to the deputy. His nametag identified him as Joseph Gonzalez.

“And so another wonderful evening gets ruined, thanks to Craig Walker.” She let out a disappointed sigh. “I first met Shane, the man who just left, back in high school, but I never really talked to him until tonight, and I could tell something wonderful was about to happen. Then you showed up.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am. I’m just doing my job.”

Her toned softened. “I know you are, and I’m sorry for being rude. This really isn’t your fault. You got duped by Craig Walker, just like I did.”

The deputy motioned for her to take a seat in the corner of the lounge. As she settled into her chair, he took a small notepad from his pocket and sat down across from her.

“Okay, Ms. Bennett, can you please tell how you know Mr. Walker?”

“Craig Walker is an ex co-worker who I first met in Reno, Nevada, where we both worked for a magazine.”

“Were you ever romantically involved with him?”

“No,” said Rachel, firmly, as she shook her head. “Mr. Walker and I have never been romantically involved. It was strictly a business relationship.” She went on to describe their talks in the break room, and how he had turned on her after she was hired as the new art director.

“So,” said Gonzalez, “you said he was reprimanded after this incident. Did the harassment stop after that?”

“He never actually spoke to me after that, but he still gave me the evil eye whenever he saw me, and he always made a point of contradicting me at staff meetings, even when everyone else agreed with me. I probably could have said the sky was blue, and he would have said no, it was green. And then things started getting really scary.”

“What do you mean by scary?”

“I started getting some really nasty emails in my personal account. They came from different senders, but they all had pretty much the same verbiage. I was a hack who didn’t know how to do my job, and the only reason I got my job was because I’d slept with the boss. Changing my password and blocking the senders didn’t seem to help. So, I finally went back to my supervisor, but I was told that unless I could prove Craig was the sender, they couldn’t do anything about it. They suggested I open a new email account.”

“Did you?”

“Yes, and after that I made a point of not checking my personal email from my work computer. Later on, I found out someone was using the contact form on the magazine website to complain about me, but management simply ignored it. They knew what was going on; they just didn’t want to get involved. It was about the same time we learned the magazine would be going out of business.”

The deputy went over his notes. “You mentioned something about this not being the first time you had an evening ruined by Mr. Walker. Could you please explain what you meant by that?”

“Back in Reno, it seemed like every time I went out with friends, Craig would be there. If we went to a bar or restaurant, he’d be at another table. If we went to a movie or show, he’d be seated in the auditorium; always giving me a cold, hard stare. It was as if he knew my every move, even though I’d made a point of keeping my private life private. I never discussed any of my plans with co-workers. Then there was Eric.”

“Who was Eric?”

“Eric Hawthorne was someone I was seeing while I was in Reno. It wasn’t anything overly serious, but we enjoyed each other’s company. So one night while we were out having dinner, Craig was brazen enough to approach Eric in the men’s room. He told him what a lying, two-faced bitch I was, and that I was sleeping with the boss, and why was wasting his time with someone like me when there were so many other women out there who were better? The confrontation apparently didn’t last long, maybe a minute or so at best, but it really made Eric mad, not to mention how embarrassing it was for me.” Rachel sighed. “Eric sent me an email a few days later. He said he was sorry about the problems I was having with Craig, but he wanted to end the relationship. He wished me luck and hoped there’d be no hard feelings. After that, I never heard from him again.” She paused to gather her thoughts. “Once again, I went to my supervisor. She said she was sorry, but since it happened after hours and away from the office, they weren’t going to get involved.”

“I see.” Gonzalez scribbled down more notes. “Is there anything else?”

“Other than the fact that he harassed me via the company email account at my next job, and through social media, I can’t think of a thing.”

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Meet Beau Fowler

The Corrupt Cop in THE BETRAYAL

© CanStockPhoto.com/savone

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. 


MM

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