Falling In Love With Characters Again

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Over the last two years, I thought about giving up writing quite a bit–fiction writing at least. My plan was to keep with the copy and content, branch out into technical writing (which I still plan to do), edit, and nix fiction from my life. But that didn’t happen, obviously.

Anxiety and depression mated to create a sort of stage fright in me. The panic attacks (albeit mildly) returned, (but that’s also TMD related, and I don’t want to digress), and I simply could not fall in love with any story I tried to write, or any of the characters.

You couldn’t call this period writer’s block, because I was writing–just simply not writing a ton of fiction. I was pumping out copy on car parts and skin cream, but not a lot of yarn spinning happened. Stories were born only to die a quick death. No character, no idea, thrilled me or infected me enough to keep me discovering what their worlds had to offer. The imagination in me wore a grey funeral pall (to be melodramatic).

Then a character popped in my head one day as I was trying to nap, and she wouldn’t leave me be. She tugged and she pleaded and she even got all smart mouthed. I had to listen, and so started the first project, hoping it wouldn’t die out and fizzle on me like the last few had, fearing it would. (But I bit the head off the overly-critical side of me and went at it, reassuring myself it can always be edited later, and beta readers can be found to give objective opinions.)

Then a friend and I got to talking about erotic romance, and her latest projects. For the last six plus years, she’s been a huge supporter, always encouraging me just when I need it. We decided to collaborate on a steampunk erotic romance, and that’s when I met Oscar, Oscar Adair.

While I’m now falling in love with characters in the three projects I’m working on, Oscar holds a special place. There’s just something about him. I swear, if he were real, I’d have to adopt this eccentric inventor as my brother, or best friend. He knows how to pick people up when they’re down, without being overly sappy or insincere. He’s vivacious–one who encourages his friends and family with his inexhaustible enthusiasm. He’s easily someone I can picture myself having coffee with (at Bagels n’ Brew, back home), or having tea in his English garden (even though I don’t drink tea).

Oscar looks a lot like Jude Law here:

It’s amazing how we writers can do that (or perhaps it’s just strange–I don’t know)–fall in love with a creation entirely of our own minds. As Oscar and the others develop, I find myself discovering their quirks, likes, dislikes, and–silly as it may sound–really bonding with them. It’s infected me with that drive to write fiction again, and, admittedly, I am a different person than I was two years ago. Happier, that’s for sure, a bit stronger, and somewhat better at facing the adversity life throws my way. When I get down, I can see Oscar smiling at me (or Keisha, Omar, Rashid, Adelle, Vlad–but you’ll meet them all later), saying “Come on now, Louise. You can’t let me down now, can you? You can’t let your dear Gio down either! Get thee to thy desk and write, woman!” And then he laughs and his eyes sparkle, and I must heed the call.

Working with a collaborator has also been a huge boost, and an inspiration. I can’t say enough good things about Gio, and she’s a true joy to write with. We really seem to feed off each others’ creative energy, and it’s wonderful.

Oh, there are still ruts and bumps. I don’t think those ever go away. I still doubt, and that damn over-critical biatch in the back of my brain still tries to whisper “Defeat” in my ear, but I remind her this is only a first draft, and everything can be improved before these stories are submitted. I will apply a high polish spit and shine. Then she slinks back to the shadows of my mind and shuts up for awhile.

For now, I’m enjoying the stories, and falling in love with my characters again. Oscar finds himself torn between two lovers as he dives beneath the waves in his steam-powered submarine. One, his old friend John Bishop, an ex-sea captain, who looks a lot like Gerard Butler here:

(You knew there would be a bear involved, of course…)

(I have to cast my characters. I’ve always done this, and I even do it when I read a book! It might sound silly, but it really helps me get a feel for the character.)

And a lovely English lass running from a dastardly Earl, who has tricked her into marrying him. (The cad!)

We’re about three chapters into this book–no title yet–and I can’t wait to get back to writing Oscar and John. Cherie (Gio) and I have split up the chapters and characters, with me choosing John and Oscar as the characters I would mainly write for, and Cherie choosing Aurelia and the Earl of Kent.

When we’re all done, cross your fingers for us come submission time. Should we be lucky to place our steampunk erotic romance with a good home, I hope you’ll come and join Cherie and me, along with Oscar, John and Aurelia, beneath the waves.

In the weeks to come, I’ll be adding an erotic romance page to the site, and there will be more news on these, and other, characters and stories as they develop. I hope to have Passion Plays, my erotic romance collection, out this autumn, as I’ve mentioned earlier, and hopefully that will whet your appetite until you meet Oscar and crew.

In the meantime, take a peek at the cover for Passion Plays:

With many thanks to Rich Ristow for the design. Check out his ebook covers here.

And, yes, I’ll still be writing horror and dark fantasy. No worries there. I have a couple ideas brewing now (apparently the museli are loose!) but I’m not telling yet.

For the writers visiting, do you cast your characters? What characters of yours have you fallen in love with, and why?