Remember the movie “Hope Floats” with Sandra Bullock? That was me. Well, except for the cheating husband outing himself on a talk show. But coming home, a single mom, starting over in a small town that remembers the high school version of you—that was me.
And somehow, it’s the stories that draw on those things—starting over, dealing with a past, reinventing yourself—those are the ones that suck me in like no other. I’m a sucker for a story about returning home to face your past, and even more so if there’s an old love still knocking around, waiting to reignite sparks. There’s just something so hot about sexual tension between two people with a history.
THE REASON IS YOU started with just the image of a single mom with a teenage daughter. I’m a character-driven writer, finding my peeps before I find the story, and all I knew so far was that my main character’s name was Dani Shane, and she was driving down a highway in the hot summer weather in a car with no air conditioning, and her daughter was painting her toenails and hanging her feet out the window. Dani was stressed and tired and headed back to her hometown to start over. Someplace she didn’t want to go. That’s all I knew at the time.
At that same time, I was heavy into reruns of “Moonlight”, with a fangirl infatuation with the hottest vampire ever, Mick St. John. I loved the sexy all-black-wearing, soft spoken, supposed-to-be-bad-but-not vampire that was so in love with the female lead. I love a love story that’s forbidden or impossible or tortured in some way. Then Moonlight was over. And I wanted more. And suddenly my strong and stubborn character, Dani, needed a forbidden love like that. Maybe someone she could never really be with. Maybe someone that was going to make her return home both exciting and migraine-worthy. While I love vampire shows, I don’t write about them, so it couldn’t be a vampire. But a ghost….ooooh, someone she couldn’t even touch. Like The Ghost and Mrs. Muir meets Hope Floats!
Maybe she could see ghosts and hid that her whole life…maybe that’s why she left…maybe this guy was her only friend because the townspeople shunned her. Maybe he would be the example she’s held every man up to ever since, because he’s all she’s ever wanted. Maybe I could still have Mick if I wrote about him as a ghost!!!! LOL! And Alex Stone was created.
At that point, it grew and morphed and so many things changed and expanded into a story that constantly astounded me, as they all do because I don’t plot. I take what you just read above, and feed that into a seed of a beginning and start typing. I love it.
I hope you have fun reading about Dani and Alex and the rest of the (sometimes) crazy people in the town of Bethany, Texas. For an excerpt, click here. To talk about how stories come to life, meet me over at Twitter all day today at hashtag #dearreader