Life is messy…

Posted on Jan 21, 2013 in strong heroine | 0 comments

Of all my books, perhaps The Last Resort is the most conflicted. It’s also the book one of my beta readers swears is the best I’ve ever written. It’s the book that nearly won a contest, but won one of the judges’ hearts – she asked to be notified if it ever reached print. (It has!) It’s also the book that receives the most mixed reviews – primarily a complaint that too much is going on. Which I have to admit makes me laugh even as I struggle with it.
Because life is messy, and complicated, and so much of events of The Last Resort are based on reality. Events that took place almost exactly as they happen in the book, and at the same time. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty. Or innocent. I have to admit to being tempted to hold a contest asking readers to tell me which characters in The Last Resort are real…and which aren’t. I’m also grateful that some of the participants in those events are probably dead by now although I doubt they’d recognize themselves. People never do.
One reviewer even commented on the level of detail, objecting to a mention of the heroine raking leaves. Yet that rake shows up in a later scene. As a writer I had to explain why it was so conveniently placed there. I had to make it real.
Even the ‘rescue rangers’ are based in truth. Some time ago, I read about a woman who had organized a group of retired cops and ex-service people to help battered women escape their abusers. It was difficult and dangerous work, as they and any police officer could tell you.
I sometimes wonder if people have just seen too many Lifetime movies where the victim escapes into the arms of the one man who will love her, who will fight for her, and in the end save her from her abuser.
In real life, that just doesn’t happen. Most women who escape run to their families (where their batterers frequently find them) or live in shelters on subsistence. They have no money because their abusers made sure they had no access to any. Most are ashamed.
When they do call for help, they frequently panic immediately afterward. Many times cops become caught between the abuser and the victim, because the victim is all too aware that the laws don’t really protect her. In all likelihood her abuser will be back out on the street within hours. And looking for her. Unless she finds a shelter – most counties don’t have domestic violence shelters – he’ll very likely find her. A protection from abuse order is worth the paper it’s written on, it’s a formality that must be part of the record…but one that is almost guaranteed to infuriate the abuser – who never considers himself the bad guy. It’s shaming, and inflaming for them.
Leaving is the most dangerous time for most women, and the time when most die. One to three women in the United States daily.
So I wrote The Last Resort from my own experience, and it translated fairly easily. All the events in the book took place around the same time.
What I didn’t want to write was just another domestic violence book. I didn’t want it to be primarily about domestic violence. I wanted to write something that would be entertaining as well. I wanted the book to balance what I frequently see as a culture of constant victim-hood, with women and those around them defining themselves always by this one event for the rest of their lives. It doesn’t have to be that way.
I wanted to write about someone who would give women hope, an example of someone who had broken the chains of domestic violence. I wanted to write a book about a woman who had not only survived, but thrived and grew stronger because of it. I also wanted to show that it was possible to love and be loved again, to have a healthy relationship.
Someone like me.

Twenty percent of all the proceeds of The Last Resort will go to charities benefiting the victims of domestic violence.

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Dirty Politics

Posted on Oct 2, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I was born into politics – no surprise to many. It was often the subject of conversation at the dinner table.
There was only one requirement in order to speak, and that was that you had to speak intelligently on the subject. *grins* I think I was eight at the time.
When he was 55 for so, my father – a mechanical engineer and Director of Manufacturing – suddenly found himself downsized when his company was taken over by another corporation. Looking for meaning and a new direction to his life, and unable to find another job at his age, he turned to another love – politics.
A life-long Republican (yes, you heard me right) he decided to run for one of the first of many offices to which he’d never be elected. A highly intelligent man, a corporate manager, he’d never developed the kinds of people skills necessary to succeed in politics. He wasn’t a warm man and he had little patience for those who didn’t bother to keep themselves informed. Or who disagreed with him.
As with Cam, it was my mother who insisted that I help campaign for my father, as I was the only child who still lived close to home. There was no way that she would take no for an answer. It didn’t matter that it used up one of my rare but precious vacations days (I was not a psychologist with a schedule that could be rearranged.) One of the four of us had to be there, and that person was me.
That was my first foray into politics, in much the same way as it was with Cam in Dirty Politics.
Let’s just say it was an enlightening, and occasionally surreal experience.
As with many of my books (obviously NOT the fantasy novels) Dirty Politics is strongly rooted in reality. The first scenes of Dirty Politics were very much like what actually happened – except for Noah’s character. To be honest, the real candidate for D.A. was definitely not as attractive as Noah is in the book. He was very charming, though, and, like Noah, always had a pretty woman on his arm. They do have that in common.
Unlike Noah and Cam, though, he was very definitely not my high school crush, but it was fun writing their relationship – Cam the sensible psychologist still fighting that tug, but understanding Noah far too well while Noah learns to let go of the pain of his past. Cam doesn’t make it easy for him, she has her own ghosts, and one of them comes back to haunt her.
More than that, though, was writing the relationship between the friends, with Cam at the heart of them. At the time I lived there, the town that I called Millersburg really did have a farmer’s market on the main street, if it wasn’t quite as eclectic as the one described. Cam’s weekend breakfasts grounded the Millersburg Quartet series in ways I didn’t expect, and helped me see all the characters more clearly.
So… read Irish Fling if you want, or you can jump into Dirty Politics first – the books were written to be read in any order. Yes, there are spoilers if you read Two Up before the others. Or maybe they’ll just entice you to meet the others – bright Ali, energetic Molly, or wild child Jesse, as they search for answers to life, love and everything in between.

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