Smart Girls Read Romance

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Inspiration

At the beginning of October, for the first time, I saw Forrest Gump. There had been reasons I hadn't watched it, even knowing it had been so highly praised as a classic film everyone should see.  The reason to see it then came down to wondering how it dealt with a subject I had in my next book-- being slow-witted. 

My hero in Lands of Fire was introduced in Echoes from the Past as the hero's brother, a man who was physically perfect but mentally slow. I saw Jesse's potential even though he was not the norm as a romance hero. In discussing it with a few readers, they encouraged me to explore this and give Jesse his own romance.

Every time I begin to write a book, I do some thinking as to what makes a hero. You can't just say-- here's the hero and expect the reader to buy into it. Heroes have certain qualities that people react to when they see them-- (Characteristics of a Hero-- such as courageous, skilled, sacrificial, destined, and wounded).  


Jesse meets those qualities. In thinking about it, I saw that his wound was his mental limitation-- or more importantly how he saw it. In writing his story, I didn't want to get caught up in the hero aspect of Jesse and forget that limitation. I didn't want to  'normalize' him. It was always important to keep in mind that he was slow, not stupid.  

When I watched Forrest Gump what pleased me was how that last point was emphasized. It made the point I also believe-- what makes us different can be our special quality. 

Although, Forrest had a wonderful mother, who fought to make him see himself as good as anyone else, in my story, Jesse's parents had been filled with fear at his difference. It's not hard to sympathize with them.  In the 1800s and into the early 1900s, our country dealt harshly with those it regarded as mentally aberrant. His parents' fear had led to Jesse avoiding people and places that would challenge him. It took life and someone else to show him that his differences also had pluses.
 

Much as seeing Forrest Gump reinforced my confidence in my hero and his qualities, I was happy I had not seen it until after I'd written my book. If I'd seen it first, I'd not have had the liberating experience of discovering for myself Jesse's character and recognizing his power. That was the kind of serendipity that I love as a writer and something that always gives me joy when it happens. 

Lands of Fire, will be out November 5, 2015.

5 comments:

  1. I'm looking forward to reading this book, Rain. I'm sure you handled the hero's limitations well.

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  2. thank you, Caroline. It was an interesting challenge as heroes have these expectations from readers but sometimes you write one, as I know you well understand, just because it's there and you have to do it.

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  3. I enjoy reading books where the characters are not stereotypes. Sounds like you've captured an unusual hero in Lands of Fire. I'm looking forward to reading the book and getting to know Jesse.

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  4. This sounds like a great book. Making heroes out of men many wouldn't normally think of as heroes is a challenge but makes writing a book more fun. Looking forward to reading Jesse's story.

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  5. Thank you both. I think Jesse is a good reminder that heroes and heroines come in all forms and it can be exciting when they surprise us :)

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