Nobody lives in a vacuum. Nobody writes in one, either. And after 26 books, I have come to realize that what is going on in my life—good, bad, mundane, exciting—is reflected in my stories and my characters.
For example, I wrote the novella The Italian’s Housekeeper Mistress when I’d just moved to New York City from the leafy suburbs of Connecticut. I had three children with a fourth due in less than two months, and had just exchanged my spacious home of five years for a tiny, box-like apartment with no garden or laundry. Is it any wonder my heroine Zoe ended up having an emotional conflict about wanting a proper home?
I wrote a more recent book, His Brand of Passion (out in July 2013) when I’d just found out I was unexpectedly expecting. My heroine (another Zoe, funnily enough) deals with her own surprise pregnancy in that book—describing the fatigue and morning sickness of early pregnancy came quite easily!
In the case of Beneath The Veil of Paradise, my life influence was actually a film—the movie Tangled which my three year old daughter watched incessantly while sitting next to me as I wrote. Is it any wonder that my hero Chase Bryant bears a bit of a resemblance to Flynn Rider?
The themes and issues in this book are quite serious, with both Chase and the heroine Millie having traumatic pasts to overcome. Since I was grappling with such major stuff, the lightness that found its way into the book came as a surprise, and a needed one I think! Take this scene for an example:
She stared at him for a moment, held his gaze long enough so he could see the warm brown of her eyes. Yes, warm. Like dark honey, or rum, and the only warm thing about her. So far.
‘Threatened is the wrong word,’ she finally said, and from the starkness of her tone he knew she was speaking in total truth. ‘You do make me uncomfortable, though.’
She gave him a thin-lipped smile. ‘I don’t think anyone likes being told that it’s obvious she eats a bowl of cereal by the sink for dinner.’
Ouch. Put like that, he realized it was insulting. ‘I wouldn’t say obvious.’ Although he sort of would.
‘Only because you’re so perceptive, I suppose,’ she shot back, and he grinned.
‘So shall we go somewhere more private so you can continue to be uncomfortable?’
“What an appealing proposition.’
“It appeals to me,’ he said, truthfully, and she gave a little shake of her head.
‘Honestly? What do you see in me?’ She sounded
curious, but also that dreaded vulnerable. She really didn’t know the answer, and hell if he did either.
‘What do you see in me?’ he asked back.
She chewed her lip, her eyes shadowing once more. ‘You made me laugh for the first time in—a long time.’
He had the strange feeling she’d been about to give him a specific number. Since when? ‘That’s a lot of pressure.’
eyes widened, flaring with warmth again. ‘Why?’
‘Because of course now I have to make you laugh again.’
And for a second he thought he might get a laugh right then and there, and something rose in his chest, a balloon of hope and happiness that made absolutely no sense. Still he felt it, rising him high and dizzily higher even though he didn’t move. He grinned. Again, simply because he couldn’t help it.
She shook her head. ‘I’m not that easy.’
“This conversation just took a very interesting turn.’
‘I meant laughing,’ she protested, and then she did laugh, one ridiculously unladylike hiccup of joy that had her clapping her hand over her mouth.
‘There it is,’ Chase said softly. He felt a deep and strangely primal satisfaction, the kind he usually only felt when he’d nailed an architectural design. He’d made her laugh. Twice.
Do you like reading books with a little bit of humor, or are you all about the angst? And if you had to choose, would you pick up a book that pulled at your heart strings or made you smile! I hope Beneath The Veil of Paradise does both!