Monday, February 28, 2011
All You Need is Love...plus a book giveaway
**Giveaway is now closed**
Shana Mahaffey lives in San Francisco, California, in part of an Edwardian compound that she shares with an informal cooperative of family, friends, and five cats (two hers, three residing in other apartments in the buildings). The causes she holds closely to her heart are for wildlife preservation, natural resource conservation and marine mammals. She has written several short stories for various publications. Her first novel is "Sounds Like Crazy" and she has come to tell us why she made sure to include a love interest for her main character. She also is offering to send two copies of her book to some lucky readers anywhere in the world.
If you like what you've read here, check out her blog, follow her tweets and visit her on Facebook.
Why Does the Love Interest in Novels Interest Us?
Why is it that a novel isn’t complete without a love interest? From Science Fiction to thrillers to fiction someone is either looking for love, falling in love, or in love. If the writer has done his or her job, we hitch our wagons to the main character and look eagerly or fall blissfully. When it comes to “in love,” unless the book is a thriller, mystery, or some kind of quest—inward or outward—where the two lover are in it together, the “in love” state is usually a state of delusion and the relationship is most likely a “fixer” that requires a hammer, screwdriver, or in most cases, a chainsaw.
In my novel, Sounds Like Crazy, my main character, Holly, was “in love” with Peter. The book is not a mystery or a thriller and Holly and Peter weren’t on a quest. So, you guessed it, they had a chainsaw variety relationship—i.e., they had no business being together. Holly was an emotional cripple and Peter fit the bill of quintessential jerk, turd, douche (a term I seem to hear a lot these days), or a man who “meets expectations.” Do you like that last description? I mean it, meets expectations. Without any awareness on her part, Holly sought out the guy who fit her understanding of a loving relationship. Peter fit the bill to a “T.” Sound familiar?
Originally, Sounds Like Crazy didn’t have a love interest. I figured a woman with Multiple Personality Disorder (or Dissociative Identity Disorder to use the current DSM IV term), Holly’s condition, had enough on her mind, or I should say “in her mind,” to deal with. Then I did a plot review with Martha Alderson, author of Blockbuster Plots. During our session, Martha said, “You need a love interest in your book.”
“Why?” was my very confused response. Why indeed? I certainly didn’t want to go “there,” because given that I like to live and breathe the characters I am writing about, there meant I’d have to explore my own understanding of a loving relationship. Nevertheless, there I went in the form of Peter.
The funny thing is, writing about Holly and Peter’s relationship was harder than writing about a woman with five alternate personalities living inside her head. Go figure! I had to revise this part of the book more than a dozen times. Finally, I had the perfect man: The narcissist, the liar, the cheater, the dangler of carrots, the promiser, the man who embodied every cringe-worthy trait you find in those guys in the books, and movies, and TV shows. The one who when you read about or watch the woman falling for his shtick, chasing after him, outwardly you groan and inwardly you get it. At least most of you do, because you’ve done it at least once. And those of you who haven’t, have nursed girlfriends and guy friends through the aftermath of this kind of human wrecking ball.
Now, I’ve always been good at professional life. I’ve never been so good at personal life, at least when it comes to relationships. I always chose the wrong guy. They were all nice men. They met my expectations, because my expectations were unavailable men who saw me the same way I saw myself—a flawed woman who had a big fat ass. IMHO of course.
What I learned writing about Holly and Peter’s relationship is that to heal, Holly needed seriously upgrade her understanding of what she deserved when it came to love. And the only way she could upgrade was if I did the same thing. To do this, I needed to take a hard look at my current relationship with my own Mr. Wonderful, who upon a giant step back for big picture viewing and reflection, was a mirror image of Peter with minor differences like a partner, children and a country making ours a long distance relationship.
If Holly deserved better, didn’t I? You bet. And in a perfect twist of fate, my “a ha” moment came when on his next visit, Mr. Wonderful commented on my recent weight gain (we’re talking 10 pounds here. TEN POUNDS!), “I don’t find you attractive right now with the extra weight.” My immediate thought? “WTF? You the liar and cheater with big ears, and bad spelling, and paranoia, and fill in the long list of blanks are going to give me grief about ten pounds!” My spoken response? “Get the F*(& out of my life.” I’d discovered through Holly and Peter it was all about the pattern. No more fall in love, then when it ends, feel bereft, chase, and basically destroy something I’m not even sure was in me or I wanted in the first place. I wanted a different pattern this time.
So why is it we relate to the bad relationship and we find hope in the triumph of the elimination of the bad relationship on the way to the nice guy we all dream of?
I believe it’s because deep in our hearts we all want that heart stoppingly, blissfully in love relationship to be one that is real and positive. Something that brings out the best in us. Makes us want to be a better person. We all want the person who brings a smile to our faces when we think of them and a thrill in our heart when we see them. Discovering Peter in Sounds Like Crazy and exploring the relationship between him and Holly, including the moment of triumph we readers want every character to find/experience, certainly made me look in my own mirror. It helped me understand why indeed every book needs a love interest, that and a whole lot more.
Thanks to Shana for sharing her point of view with us, as well as offering the books for our giveaway.
How to win "Sounds Like Crazy":
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1. Please tell us: Who is your favorite love interest in any novel you have read?
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Giveaway ends Sunday, March 6th at midnight EST