SCENE: INT. THERAPIST’S OFFICE
- X: What seems to be the problem?
ME: (in a shaky, haunted whisper) I see fictional people.
Fourteen of them, to be exact.
I’m going to need intensive psychoanalysis to sort through all the characters who have taken up residence in my head this year. For the anthology Sweet Hearts, I was given the amazing opportunity to work with two wonderful BSB authors, Melissa Brayden and Rachel Spangler, and to revisit two of my favorite characters, Kate and Jamie from Worth the Risk. In the resulting novella, “Risk Factor,” Kate’s friend Myra Owens has a chance to find romance with Ainslee Cooper when Myra starts a riding class for wounded vets. Over the summer, I wrote four novellas for my 2016 release Tales from Sea Glass Inn. So, there are two main characters in each of the five novellas, plus appearances by Mel and Pam (from Sea Glass Inn), and Jamie and Kate…
It’s getting crowded in here.
All of these characters are unique people in my mind, with pasts and talents and secret hopes specific to each of them. But, disconcertingly, they are also fragments of me. There’s always some sliver of connection between me and the people I create, whether it’s a shared hobby, a common fear, or a similar incident from our pasts. Sometimes, all these voices in my head can be overwhelming, but I love them too much to kick any of them out before their stories are told.
Sweet Hearts is about beloved secondary characters and second chances. These women didn’t find love the first time around, instead remaining somewhat in the background, but in this anthology they are faced with the possibility of romance and have to discover whether or not they are brave enough to grab hold of it. As soon as I heard the premise for this collection, I knew I wanted to tell Myra’s story because her voice was still loud in my mind even after I had finished Worth the Risk. She was fun to write as a secondary character because she’s smart, compassionate, and very strong, and she gained depth and texture in my mind as a main character. Like me, she loves horses, but she uses her passion in a wonderful and life-changing way, for both her and her students.
Melissa, Rachel, and I live very different lives, and the characters we’ve created in Sweet Hearts are as diverse as we are, but these three novellas are united by a powerful and enduring concept: the healing power of love.