What Readers Want to Know…
by Kate Vale
Readers often ask me who my favorite characters are from the books I’ve published. A stock answer is “the book I just finished” or “the one I’m currently working on!” However, the main female character in Where This Goes is especially dear to my heart. She has worked hard to become a successful businesswoman in spite an unsupportive family, including an alcoholic mother. Nicole, too, is a recovering alcoholic, as is her older brother. Their younger sister is raising a family (something Nicole doesn’t think she has a right to have for herself). Then the bottom drops out of Nicole’s world because her business is threatened, and she realizes that what she thought was a bad bout of the flu turns out to be a pregnancy! What is she going to do now?
Women who are buffeted on all sides by demands, each of which would be sufficient to give one pause, are people we can be proud of when they power through problems that would have forced others to give up. In considering how Nicole would deal with each of the issues she has to contend with, I knew that she would eventually come out a winner, but how she gets there becomes the real issue.
Life often requires us to make choices, and Nicole has to, as well. Will she give up her business? The baby she never expected to have? Or the man who shows up—at first representing “the enemy” —except that she would have liked to have met him at another time, perhaps in another place. Sigh. I felt so much for Nicole.
Readers often ask me where my ideas come from and if my characters are modeled after people I know. My head is full of stories. When the characters’ voices become so loud I can’t ignore them (does this make me crazy? I hope not!), I have to sit down and let them emerge via the pounding of my fingers on my computer keyboard. As for the characters, they don’t mirror the exact experiences of people I know, although I depend on the expertise of consultants to make sure that key details are accurate. For example, when I wrote a story about two little girls in foster care (Her Daughter’s Father), I checked in with people who handle foster placements. When I wrote a story about adoption (Destiny’s Second Chance), I interviewed several people who had experienced different aspects of the adoption process. And for Where This Goes, I met with people for whom alcoholism had touched their families in some way.
That's so true Kate. We don't always write what we know, but as authors we do have a responsibility to know as much as we can about what we write. That way our characters and the situations they find themselves in will be as real to the reader as they are to us. And that way, together with the reader and those wonderful voices in our head, we learn about our own lives too. I'm so glad you visited my blog, and I'm delighted I've got to know you better here.