Essentially, the engine functions the same as any other, but there are several core differences that give the car an edge. Does this make it better than other cars? Not really. As long as you’ve got more speed than a golf cart, you’re good driving from your house to the mall. Extra features are there in case you choose to use them, much like talents. You can use them as often as you want. Or never. With a special edition or modified car, you’ve got what you need to get from point A to point B. But using a car designed for the track to do groceries always seems a bit silly to me. If you’re lucky, you’ve got another car for day to day stuff and can put your sexy beast away for special occasions. If not, well, you’ve got to train yourself how to keep the roar of the engine to a purr when you pull up in front of your kid’s school. Try to make your pony fit in with the minivans and Volkswagens parked by the soccer field, even though it looks like a thoroughbred grazing with cows.
Confused? Well, how ‘bout I put it like this. When you walk down the street, do you notice that bum, sitting on the corner? Maybe. You slow down; notice the holes in his shirt, the acrid scent of body odour and the bitterness of cheap wine. Pity twinges in the back of your mind and you fish some change from your pocket. Dropping it into his empty, paper coffee cup you spare him a smile, then continue on your way. The feeling of having done something good stays with you for a bit. But your mind wonders to who you’re going to see at work, what you’re making for supper, the fact that your husband didn’t take out the trash. You’ve moved on. Unfortunately, my brain doesn’t work like that. Everything I do—every person I interact with, leaves an impression that can linger for hours. If I let it, my brain will stay in writer mode all the time. I can’t carry on a normal conversation because I’m not seeing things around me in the detached way a person has to if they’re going to transition from one activity to the next. My mind is attuned to every nuance, every tiny detail, none of it relevant to what I’m trying to accomplish at the moment. Vroom vroom. To tell you the truth, sometimes I’m jealous of the people who can go through their lives relatively unaffected by things around them. I imagine how easy it must be to focus on the here and now when you can turn the rest of the world off, how simple it would be to ride on cruise control for a little. I imagine every artist—from painters to dancers—feels this way sometimes. What would it be like to not feel everything with such intensity? Then I’m grateful. I love what I do and I wouldn’t want to be anyone else, or feel like anyone else. Besides, it could be worse. I could be a genius. Imagine your only mode of transportation being a stealth fighter.
Yikes. And now that I’ve admitted to being something of a freak, let’s get to the topic de jour. Archetypes. Not sure what I can say about archetypes. I’d like to say I don’t use them, but that would be nonsense. Of course I use them. To construct a well developed character, you really must consider who they are. An alpha male with a heart of gold? A studly geek? A gangster with a hero complex? My heroes tend to be either jokers or jerks. Why? Well, I guess if I do a self-psychoanalysis, I can trace the attraction to that type of man back to high school. The guys I crushed on were either the cute class clown who disrupted the class and demanded all the attention, or the bad boy who was just plain mean to me. In many ways, I wasn’t your average teenage girl—I was reading college level before I hit seventh grade—but I didn’t escape the boy crazy stage. I can recall two crushes that became the center of my universe for a time. One joker, one jerk. I actually got up the nerve to give the tough guy my phone number (I won’t tell you how, I might use it as a plot bunny one day). Needless to say when he called—which obviously shocked the hell out of me—I made a fool of myself. As for the joker, well, I ended up dating one of his friends. Which meant I sat across from him every day in the cafeteria and pretended to be cool with being friends. Anyway, I guess when I write, my heroines live out my fantasies, take chances, and, since I’m in charge of the caste, she gets a man—or several—who will love her. The heroines in my stories—well, so far they’ve been nice girls. And nothing like me. This is where I take myself out of the story and give my dream boys what I imagine would be their dream girl. She’s sweet, funny, patient, unlikely to get violent when pissed off (although she might throw things—no one’s perfect). She looks good in everything she wears, even if she doesn’t think so, and a good man (or a bad boy) can’t help feel his protective urges kick up around her. Last, but not least, my villains. What can I say about them? Only this: I come up with some pretty twisted things to do to my main characters. The bad guys better be able to pull them off. Writing ménage clearly means more characters and that’s where things get real interesting. How many book have you read where you’ve favourite character wasn’t the hero? His best friend, his brother, his boss—you can’t help wishing the heroine had gotten with them instead. Ménage takes away some of those limits. The lucky girl can have whoever she wants. If the story’s polyamory, she gets to keep them. Works for me! J