With A Little Help From My Friends

The subject of friends is very much on my mind these days, because my wonderful group of bosom buddies is doing such an awesome job of helping me with (or leading me through!) promoting my books.  Every Facebook post, every re-Tweet. . .every positive review and recommendation. . .is another step along the road for me, and I am tremendously grateful for each one!

Close friends like mine are a new experience for Tasmyn when she moves to King.  She makes her very first pals through Michael, when his buddies from childhood take her under their collective wing.  Like most of us, while Tas likes all of Michael’s crowd, she clicks with a couple of them more than the others.

Anne Lewis and Michael have been friends since kindergarten (although apparently there was unfortunate temporary rift after the Mr. Whiskers hamster care award incident in first grade).  She was the only girl in their crowd until Brea moved to King in fourth grade. And although Anne and Brea will always be close, Anne was thrilled when Michael brought Tasmyn to their lunch table.  They found so much in common that pretty soon, Michael was teasing Anne about stealing his girl.

Since having a best girlfriend is so new to Tas, she is even more excited when she realizes that there is something she can do to help out Anne.  After a few weeks of sitting at the lunch table, it becomes clear that Jim, another one of their group, has deep feelings for Anne.  There’s history between them, and misunderstanding. . but with a little encouragement and advice from Tasmyn, those two crazy kids just might work it out.

If Tas is excited to have a whole group of friends through association with Michael, she’s even prouder when she makes a connection all by herself.  Cara Pryce comes to Tasmyn’s rescue one day, and the two discover that they have a few things in common.  Cara is fairly new to King, too.  She’s struggled to make friends.  As it turns out, they may end up having more in common than Tas likes.

But then that’s a story for another day.

Evolution of A Story

“What gave you the idea for this book?”

Seems like a simple question.  Most authors have a nice pat answer to that query.  Stephenie Meyer cites a dream as her primary inspiration for Twilight.  Anne Rice has said that the death of her young daughter prompted her to write her first vampire novel, Interview With A Vampire.  Stephen King says that his horror novel Pet Semetary came to him after a near miss involving his little boy and a busy highway.

But I think that if most writers were completely honest, they would admit that while a single incident might provide the initial idea, plot lines usually come from many different sources, some of them external–things that happens to us–and some of them from the deepest recesses of our minds.

One of the chief elements of Fearless came to me years ago when my children were small.  I experienced something most moms can probably understand:  I would wake up in the middle of the night and sleepily think of my baby, hoping she would stay asleep. . .and moments later, said baby would begin fussing.  I told my sister that it was as if the baby could hear me thinking about her.

And that make me consider how complicated it would be to have a child who really could hear thoughts.  How would a parent deal with that?  How would you figure it out?  How many scenarios might cross your mind before you discovered the truth?

The first chapter I wrote for Fearless was the one in which Tasmyn tells Michael about her history.  The germ of the idea that had been marinating in my mind for over ten years took form in Tasmyn’s memories of her early childhood.

But there was so much more than that. Tasmyn’s years of moving from new school to new school was certainly something I could understand. I pulled some of her experiences–some of which was more detailed in earlier forms of the book–directly from my own experiences.  And while I don’t think any of them were actually witches, I could certainly relate to mean and hostile girls.

So most of the basic outline of Tasmyn’s story had been with me for a while.  But moving to central Florida gave me a setting that I hadn’t expected.  In our early years here, I spent a lot of time in a nearby small town.  There is no connection with the metaphysical or supernatural in that particular town, but there is another place not too far away that is well-known for its psychics and mediums.  Combining those two locales–juxtaposing the bizarre with the normal–gave me the town of King.

Michael and his friends very kindly presented themselves to me.  I didn’t have to reach very far for them; they just basically wrote their own stories.  Does that sound odd?  Maybe, but it’s true.  If much of Tasmyn’s background and character comes from my own history, Michael is an absolute original.  His love of the oldies and ’65 Mustangs came from my dad, who passed on both of those passions to me.  His time working in the family business reminds me of my husband, who used to work in his father’s hardware store.  But there is so much more to him that just seemed to evolve. I love that he is confident without being cocky; I adore his steady loyalty, his quirky humor and his unashamed love of family.

So that’s some of the background of Fearless. I hope that when you read it, you’ll recognize some of these elements and enjoy it all the more.



Sometimes a writer creates a story around a character whom she loves or admires.  We really have to like our protagonists since we spend so much time with them; if they become weak, whiny or cliched, we just may grow to hate them.  And it’s hard to write a story around a character you can’t stand.  There has to be some redeeming value.

But our antagonists. . .well, that’s a different story altogether. We can hate those characters.  They’re supposed to be nasty, shallow and/or dark, and so we can justify making them do horrible things.

When I begin writing FEARLESS, I already knew a lot about Tasmyn. She’s smart and funny, insightful and kind.  Her biggest flaw at the beginning of the series–and one she is just beginning to overcome by the end of the first book–is insecurity about herself and fear of her own abilities. Tasmyn started out as a mix of people I know, and yet she evolved into a completely different person, one with her own flaws and strengths.  But still. . .I wasn’t necessarily surprised by her choices, by who she is.

Nell, on the other hand, was an utter shock.  In my mind, she was devious, evil and completely without any hope of redemption.  But as I begin to write the story, gradually I realized that Nell had. . .depth. She had a history.  When I found out why she behaved the way she did, I began to understand her.  I didn’t like her actions, and I knew she was making bad choices.  But the more I wrote, the clearer she became.  And pretty soon, I knew that Nell’s story is going to eventually transcend the King series.  She has more to say, and she is going to need to say it in a setting beyond King.

So someday, Nell will tell her story.  In the meantime, though, I hope you’ll enjoy meeting Nell while she’s still in King.

Tasmyn’s Tunes

Writing is often a solitary occupation.  When the voices are either too loud or not quite clear enough, sometimes music is a distraction or an inspiration.   Some lyrics can turn a story in a completely different direction.

The right music can give me incredible insight into my characters and their motivation. During the editing and revision process, listening to my original playlist reminds me why the plot line moved in a certain direction.

Most of my characters are also passionate about their music. Tasmyn listens to alt-rock, and her favorite bands, not surprisingly, are mine as well.  Michael likes contemporary country music, although when he drives, the original AM radio in his Mustang only plays oldies.  Tas tolerates his choices only because she loves him, but she’s trying to lure him into liking some of her favorite groups.

Nell is very selective in her musical tastes. She keeps up with the pop scene, but in reality, she loves classical music.  Her mother used to play soaring operas and introduced her daughter to Tchaikovski and Bach.  Nell listens to Dvorak’s The Noon Witch every night as she goes to sleep.  It was her mother’s favorite symphony.

If you want to know what particular songs inspired the action in FEARLESS, go to the playlist page and check it out.