I’d like to welcome author, LAURA SPINELLA to the Block. Her debut novel Beautiful Disaster has been receiving wonderful reviews across the board. I read this book and LOOOVED it! (That was me singing, not dogs howling…) I am so pleased to have her visiting today.
I had an interesting email from a reader the other day. She wanted to know if I could tell her where Flynn lives. He’s the protagonist in BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, a character who is as illusive on the page as he would be in real life. Illusive, if he existed. Perplexed as to how I might answer, I posed the question on Facebook. Responses were quick, everything from the heartfelt, “Flynn lives in your soul…” to a more humorous, “Tell her he lives here and to stop looking for him!”
Characters can have that affect, taking on a life of their own beyond what the author imagined. I’m thrilled to share Flynn with readers, tickled to know that my out-of-thin-air concoction of a flawed but fascinating man has made an impression. For so many years, draft after draft, I thought it was just me. If we’re talking textbook hero, Flynn would be the Zeta in the Alpha-male line. He goes against type, the flaws being an integral part of his character. He’s the dare you never took, and he’s not without risk. So for me, there’s validation—albeit it a little curious—when a reader gets so involved they want more Flynn than the book’s 370 pages delivers, namely an address and social security number. Romance: historical, contemporary, paranormal, or erotica lends itself to the phenomenon of characters who won’t quit. There’s a privilege in writing a character that warrants a twofold reaction from readers. On one hand, they’re happy for the happy ending. Romance guarantees wait for it satisfaction, and it’s one reason love stories will forever capture the largest market of readers. On the other hand, no other type of storytelling boasts as much margin for personal fantasy. After the last page, the hero has a chance to live on. The character who garners this type of breath-gasping response can suddenly be found six rows in front of you at the Celtics game or sitting across from you on the number nine bus. Romance leads to fantasy, or perhaps it’s the other way around.
In the end, it comes down to chemistry. It’s about the emotions a hero and his love interest generate between the pages and the ones conjured up for the person turning them. I think to be an Uber-hero a character has to spill over the edges. Readers cling to the story, but also find themselves haunted by the hero while picking up their dry cleaning and waiting in the dentist’s office. I say more power to the man who can accomplish this, adding some zip to our everyday lives. Love scenes naturally channel that energy, giving romance a sexy leg up on biographies, mysteries, and science fiction. It’s an invitation to indulge, and far be it from me to deny anyone their whip cream, hot toppings, etc… Some readers like to leave it at the bedroom door, giving their imagination the green light, while others prefer more detailed encounters. It’s the kind of reading that leaves your toes cramped from curling and your husband sure that fulfilling his honey-do list has led to naughty but titillating rewards. Lucky for readers, romance runs the gamut with BEAUTIFUL DISASTER falling somewhere in the middle. It’s a character driven tale wrapped in romance, channeled by a Chapter Ten that still has me asking, “Did I really write that?”
As that writer, I’m forever interested in what moves a reader. So I’m wondering if you’d share with me a character that elicited something more than a, “Gosh, that was a good book,” reaction. Tell me about the guy. What made you wish he was more than a character in a story? Was he flawed like Flynn or did he come complete with a buffing kit for his armor? Leave a comment, between now and Friday, April 15 EDT and you could win a copy of BEAUTIFUL DISASTER—but no skipping ahead to Chapter Ten!