The Heart of the Story

 by Sheri Lewis Wohl

In a week, my latest paranormal thriller/romance comes out. It’s not my first but it is different in a way– the lead character is a five-hundred-year-old lesbian. Crimson Vengeance is the first in a four book series that will feature lesbian romances. I didn’t really think too much about it when I began to write Crimson Vengeance, it was simply a vampire love story that spoke to me and something I wanted to write. As it evolved, I was intrigued by the character of Riah Preston more and more. That the central romance was non-traditional wasn’t really front and center in my mind. It was more about a story I enjoyed writing, and one I was very happy with when it was all done.

In all my books, I like diversity. It probably started when I was about seven and thought I could swim. I couldn’t and I was to find out in an almost tragic way. At a crowded public pool in Ontario, Oregon, I decided that I could not only swim but could dive. So, I climbed up the ladder of the diving platform and proceeded to make my inaugural swan dive. It was my first and very nearly my last. Despite the fact that the pool had two lifeguards, no one seemed to be paying attention to the twig-thin blonde who was now bobbing in the deep end. No one that is, except a young black man who, as I was going down for the third time, dove in and pulled me to safety. Though I never knew his name, I’ll always remember his face and the feel of his arms as he saved my life.

I often think of that moment. Not of the terror of the water trying to claim my life but rather the feeling of being pulled to safety. There was no barrier standing between us, no black vs. white, no boy vs. girl. There was no place for thoughts of race, gender, religion, or sexual preference…it was a moment devoted to the simple act of one person helping another. That’s what I remember. So when I write it’s from that standpoint whether it’s a skinny white Canadian psychic, a tall handsome Spokane Indian shape shifter, a sexy black scientist, or a centuries-old lesbian vampire. All are different, all are special, all bring a beauty to the world that would otherwise be missing.

Thus, the story of Riah Preston begins. She is a vampire, she is a medical examiner, and oh yeah, she’s a lesbian. Most important of all, she’s an interesting character that lives (even though she’s technically one of the undead), loves, and tries to do the right thing. And, isn’t that after all the heart of a good story?

10 Responses to “The Heart of the Story”


  1. 1 Carsen Taite April 13, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    Great blog. You’re absolutely right – when we connect on an emotional level all the other stuff (race, class, etc.) doesn’t matter anymore.

    Like

  2. 3 Mel Bossa April 14, 2011 at 9:03 AM

    I agree. Begin with a character, fall in love with her or him and let the character live–tell his or her story. My favorite books range from technical masterpieces, to simple, kitchen-sink southern tales, but always, in their center, there is the characters, and all the basic, universal emotions. A writer is a telepath: we simply record our characters’ thoughts. As Alice Walker wrote in her credits for The Color Purple: “Thank you for coming.”

    She meant her characters.

    I will definitely read your book and I wish you much success!!!

    Like

  3. 4 Sheri Lewis Wohl April 14, 2011 at 9:32 AM

    Great quote, Mel, and it’s so true. Thanks for stopping by.

    Like

  4. 5 bookgeek April 14, 2011 at 2:01 PM

    Hi Sheri,
    your book is already on my e-reader and I look forward to meeting Riah. I love a series where a character can evolve — and I hate to wait for the next installment

    Like

  5. 7 pommawolfjohnson July 14, 2011 at 2:26 AM

    Imagine my absolute surprise when I find that your story is based in the city I grew up in and lived in for 35 years. I’m now in Alaska, and will be returning to Washington state next year spring/summer. But to read familiar names of places it was like walking down memory lane.
    Thank you for sharing your experience with not being able to swim. My daughter almost drowned the first time in Post Falls many years ago, and again in the Spokane Valley apartment complex, and both times she was far from my reach, but other people could have reached out there arms and caught her but failed to do so. I have never understood why 2 people failed to act with basic human kindness, and I am ever so lucky that I was able to reach her both times, The first time she was 3, and second time she 10.
    The looks upon the 2 peoples faces still astound me today. Both had the looks on their faces as they stared at me holding my daughter in my arms as if she was simply none existent to them. Even at both times other who watched this unfold could not understand the lack of action, and why these two people simply stood there to watch her fighting for her life as I was scrambling through the water fully clothed to get to her.

    I am ever so happy your experience was very good, and wish people could look at the world as you have in post. People are funny things, and even with a life and death situation you would think the instinct to reach out and grab a child would cross all boundaries because my daughter was just an innocent child in need fo a hero.

    Like

  6. 8 pommawolfjohnson July 14, 2011 at 2:29 AM

    I also placed your books on my gotta have list and can’t wait to read them…*S*
    Sorry about that…I was going to post my email if you care to know it and share Spokane stories…*S*

    Darcy

    pommawolf @hotmail.com

    Like

  7. 10 Sheri Lewis Wohl July 15, 2011 at 12:11 AM

    Thanks, Darcy. We’ll definitely have to swap Spokane stories! Was up in Anchorage last summer–it’s an awesome place.

    Sheri

    Like


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