Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Following the characters

Over on Kate Walker's blog I think I have a post on Thursday. Kate is celebrating Presents this month and has asked a few of us to write about some aspect of Presents for her while she's living it up in Washington DC at RWA.

This is very Tom Sawyerish of her. But even so I was happy to oblige.

There's a lot to enjoy in writing for Presents. Our books go all over the world. We get to research amazing places -- and we get to imagine whole worlds of fascinating people. As a day job, it's hard to beat.

I would happily have written all my books for Presents but that's not the way my mind works. I follow the characters wherever they go. They dictate the story -- and sadly, marketing and editorial don't think in broad enough terms for them all to be Presents.

That's okay. I probably couldn't write at all if I tried to specifically aim my books for external guidelines. I'm just glad 28 of them have fit there so far.

This is the weekend that PJ and Ally's book, Antonides' Forbidden Wife, is up for the RITA award in the short contemporary category. If ever a book didn't seem to 'fit' the notion of a Presents, their book might be it.

PJ hadn't even been on my radar as a Presents hero. I'd always known him as a surfer. Of course I also knew he was more than that. But surfing really formed a lot of who PJ was as a young man, and it is still a core element in the man he became.

He was a free spirit, a lone wolf, a man who didn't march to his family's drummer. As such he was very much a role model for the young Ally. At least he was a great support for her in those days. He gave her the means to do what she wanted to do with her life simply by marrying her.

When I followed them into and out of their back story I was fascinated by the people they were and the adults they became. I had no idea that they even had a story when Karin Stoecker, the editorial director at Harlequin Mills & Boon said she'd like to read Peter's story after he'd been in his brother, Elias's book.

"What about Peter?" she said expectantly.

I didn't know anything about Peter when she asked. The first thing he told me was that as soon as he left New York, he began to go by his initials, PJ. He re-invented himself. He was very happy to tell me all about his life up til then.

But in order to write Antonides' Forbidden Wife, I had to follow him and Ally for several months. I had to learn about them as they seemed to learn about themselves. I'm very happy they ended up being in Presents.

I wish them the best of luck on Saturday night. I'm going to be packing to head out for the grandchildren's the next day.

But no matter what they do or don't do on RITA night, I'll always love having spent time with them, following them around, and helping them get to their happily ever after.

It's a Presents with an M&B cover in the RITA version. The only version I had at the time of the contest.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Lacey Devlin said...

LOL! I love how Peter came to exist and I love the fact that he reinvented himself! I'm sure they'll do you proud on Saturday :)

16 July, 2009  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

Hi Lacey

Well, Peter existed in his younger brother not going to be a hero ever form right from the beginning. It was his metamorphosis into hero material that surprised both of us (PJ and me).

I'm honored that he's a finalist for the RITA. Of course I have my fingers crossed for him, but all the books are good ones. It's a crap shoot really.

Thanks for the good wishes.
Anne

17 July, 2009  

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