I love Women’s Fiction, mainly because the characters in them are just regular, real life people that I feel comfortable being around; so comfortable, in fact, I can envision myself sharing a beer with them.
Like most authors, I pull the characters in my novels from people close to me. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that my beta husband, of thirty-nine years, Jim, has had a strong impact on the characters in my novels. Jim is the consummate animal lover. Our dogs are, for the most part, rescues. One of them is a sheltie named Cassie, or “Crazy Cass”, as I like to call her. We’d initially decided to purchase only one dog: an eight-week old sheltie without issues (for those of you who own shelties, that statement is almost an oxymoron).
From the second we arrived at the breeder’s home, she gave us the sales pitch, trying to talk us into purchasing two shelties; one normal baby pup, and one---shall we say---with issues. As Jim and I tried to befriend this older dog named Cassie, she slithered into a corner. Making eye contact with this dog nearly caused her to go into convulsions. Jim was ready to cough up a small fortune so that we could take both dogs home. I refused to budge, insisting I wasn’t about to pay a breeder for a dog with hip dysplasia in need a lobotomy.
The breeder apparently sensed my reluctance and sold us the eight-week old puppy at the agreed upon price, tossing in Cassie as a freebee. The good news is that after four years, Cassie has made significant progress. While she’ll never be as affectionate as the other dogs are, Jim and I both love the fact that we’ve made this dog’s life better. We expect little in return, and on some level, that’s the mark of a true animal lover.
And that brings me back, full circle, to the topic of creating real life characters. In my novel, LAST CHANCE TEXAS, the hero is a large animal vet named Nathan Wainwright. What makes him likeable to the readers is that he often treats animals for free, insisting that the animal’s welfare must take precedent over the owner’s ability to pay him for services rendered. Although well educated, mucking out stalls to make the animals lives more comfortable isn’t beneath him. Obviously, the man doesn’t take himself all that seriously and you can’t help but love that in a hero!
Nathan Wainwright has definitely passed the litmus test. I think he’s someone I could share a beer with. For all I know, Nathan and my husband might be the ones with more in common. “Drink up, boys, the beers are on me.”
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