Thank you to the lovely Lauren at Romance Novel Giveaways for hosting me today. If you haven’t checked out her site, I recommend it, especially if you like freebies (who doesn’t?)! She asked me to share some fun facts/behind-the-scenes tidbits about my book. Here is a recap:
During the research process before publishing my book, I was told it was important to get an outside perspective. So I had a handful of friends serve as beta readers for my novel. It’s funny because each of them found aspects of the book that they felt were inspired by our past. My friend, Rachel, who I’ve known since grade school, loved that I based some characters’ names on her family members such as Seth, Marianne and Nancy. My friend, Jodie, loved the reference to Lexi’s award-winning apple cobbler, because she hosts an annual apple pie bake off where a group of us make pies to take to our Thanksgiving dinners. And my cousin, Kate, knew the Lynne Sachman benefit was a tribute to my late mother-in-law. Some of these references were intentional, whereas others were likely the work of my subconscious. While I had a general premise for the book idea, my life experiences filled in the rest. From big influences such as the Chicago setting and Lexi’s career choice, to small details such as her lucky heart charm bracelet, these decisions were inspired by my background. For example, I bought myself a Tiffany heart bracelet when I began my first job. While my husband and I were dating it mysteriously went missing. I thought he took it to have the charm monogramed as a surprise for me. It turned up a few weeks later buried under some papers in my desk drawer. In hindsight he probably didn’t know I owned the bracelet nor was he likely aware the monogramming service existed. But I always liked the sentiment of the idea, so the Tiffany bracelet worked its way into my book as a symbolic thread of love, trust and luck.
I think I was also influenced by other books I was reading during the writing process. I had just finished the Fifty Shades series, so I felt compelled to take my intimate scenes up a notch, or two. It’s mortifying knowing people are reading sex scenes that I imagined and described in detail. While I felt it was important to show this development of my characters, people think it’s inspired by my love life. It’s not, for the record, though my husband would like me to say otherwise. 🙂 It also swayed small decisions. I had initially envisioned Jake playing the piano, but I did not want there to be any similarities between him and Christian Grey, so I changed it to the guitar. This worked out better because it inspired my decision to have him play in a band. I had also planned on naming Jake’s mom Grace, which coincidentally was Christian’s mom’s name. So I changed it to Nancy in honor of my sister’s mother-in-law, who I am very fond of. Sorry, Rachel.
Lastly, many people say that they see a lot of similarities between me and my protagonist, Lexi. We both work in advertising, we both played tennis growing up, we both hate sushi, and our physical characteristics are similar. So I can see why some would believe that she is me. My friend emailed me and said, “You’d really forgive someone who lied to you about something so big?” Umm, no. That would be Lexi. But it’s not a big stretch because there are parts of myself reflected in her character. I suppose she’s an idealized version of how I’d like my life to be. She is much more driven, fashionable, and charitable than I am. And she’s a good 4” taller. So there, not me. For my first novel it was helpful to create the setting and characters based on what I know. Now I’m in the midst of writing book number two, which has taken me out of my element and my comfort zone. The book follows Tara Winters, Lexi’s younger sister, on her journey to finding “the one.” It’s a candid and entertaining look at a singleton’s dating journey when she must say yes to any guy who asks her out because of a pact. Bonus: readers will learn about Jake and Lexi’s fate along the way. Considering I haven’t been a part of the dating scene for over ten years it’s been a fun challenge. Perhaps I’ll have to go on Tinder, for research purposes only, of course. I would be happy to come back and share some behind-the-scenes facts from that experience. I’m sure it would be much more interesting! For now, this will have to do.