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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Just Like Me -- Only Different

When people ask how I come up with different characters for multiple books, the anwer is always the same: I make them all just like me, only different.

I suspect it's the way most novelists work. The question "What if...?" motivates most fiction (as in "What if there were real vampires, only they were sexy and beautiful and one fell in love with a mortal he wanted to eat?" or "What if a futuristic central government used the old Roman style of putting down rebellion by taking the children from the tribute districts and requiring them to kill one another in an elaborate gladiatorial game?")

The natural spin-off question then becomes, "What would I do and how would I behave if I were that age and in that situation?" Of course it's an ideal "what if" situation, so Katniss is the perfect personality for an unwilling-volunteer gladiator and Bella is the ideal victim/love interest for Edward, but there remains some realistic motivation the author herself (or himself) would feel if he/she were that unreal person in that unreal situation ... if any of that makes sense.

Thus Meg (RIDE THE RAINBOW HOME, Book 1 in the Rainbow Rock series) is just like me in the sense that she was the principal's daughter in the small town high school where she spent her teens, but she is unlike me in some critical ways. While Golden Weddings run in my family (my parents were married 63 years), Meg is the daughter of a serial-marrying mother who has grown up afraid of commitment. Naturally the guy who attracts her comes from a family like mine.

Alexa (AT THE RAINBOW'S END, Book 2) is just like me in her ambition to be a writer. Unlike me, she put the career ambition ahead of her dreams of home and family--at least until she meets a man who is all about family. Sarah (DON'T PROMISE ME RAINBOWS, Book 3) is a turn on Alexa: she married young, had her dreams shattered, and is skittish about ever committing again, especially with cute, younger Chris.

Cretia (Book 4, A LITTLE NIGHT RAINBOW), took it one step farther: she married too young, suffered as a result, and has finally gained some independence when Max comes into her life. Eden, from Book 5 (A RAINBOW IN PARADISE) faces a different quandary. Although she considers herself "allergic" to marriage, it's all she wants when she meets Logan, who is unwilling to be part of a cross-cultural romance.

I came back closer to me when I wrote Angelica (Book 6, THE TROUBLE WITH RAINBOWS). The only child of parents old enough to be her grandparents, Angelica has grown up completely out of touch with her peers and misunderstood by them. It's only after he returns to town widowed, with two young children, that Joe ever gives the high school Ice Queen a second look. My reasons were different, but I was as shy and out of place as she.

So how do I write the heroes? They are the perfect pairs for the women I create which, of course, means that all of them have some of my husband in them--different, but the same. It's just how we roll.

The six Rainbow Rock books, as well as Susan's other novels, are all available in e-book format for Kindle, Nook, and other e-readers, at the Apple I-Store for Apple devices, and at Smashwords and other sites for home computers.