Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Do You Scribble?

“Be careful and color inside the lines.” That often uttered sentiment flitted through my head as I maneuvered my lawnmower row by row, careful to overlap the wheel treads so I wouldn’t miss an errant blade. I’d heard the saying dozens of times over the years, but never needed to be told it myself. I was already prim and properly filling in coloring book pages without extra scribbles outside the heavy black lines. In fact, I thumbed my nose at them, shading right up close along their contours at an early age.

Which goes to show how much of a stick in the mud I was since birth. I’ve always followed the letter, stuck to the “proper” standards of society and been a good girl. Heck when I got my first job after college, I barely wanted to talk on the phone to a stranger, because I couldn’t deal with being unprepared for what they might ask.

But lately, I’ve become bolder…only by a teeny weenie inch in most cases since I’m a stickler at heart. Though I have started speaking up and voicing my opinion. I’d point a finger at aging as the culprit to blame. But maybe I’ve finally gotten tired of toeing the line so close, and want to live a little to nix being the ho hum nobody that everyone never sees unless they need a go-to-girl. Perhaps in my crotchety oldness I’m simply down right tired of Darwin nominee types (as in too stupid to live), and want to smarten them up a little.

So what do you think I said when I was asked—Are your characters like you—by an intrigued friend?

I said, “Heck, no!” I’m as exciting as a Woman’s World magazine among a stack of Cosmos. Who in the world would want to read about someone who schedules everything, makes lists because of her forgetfulness, and always has the same thing going on daily—work, work and more work? No one. Readers want to live vicariously through heroes and heroines make-believe lives, get into the head of someone they’ve dreamed of being (can you say bad girl!) and get torn out of their daily rut by following someone else’s totally outrageous adventures.

So how does boring little me write those people? I say, “What if I wasn’t such a goody-two-shoes?” Plus there is plenty of reality to enforce a little grit right outside your door. Everyone traipses through the muck to get to work, school, the grocery store, etc. Mix it all up and you have the right ingredients to conjure a no-nonsense kick-ass heroine. (I even bought socks with this motto—No Nonsense—on the toes to reiterate my new outlook on life, but ended up taking them back. Call it the penny pincher in me. Atleast that was my excuse. Enough said.)

This new, no-holds-barred kind of woman has become my stock futuristic female. In TIES OF VALOR, Zara Dior said bye-bye to female conformity and followed in her father’s footsteps to serve her government as a security officer. Then later on, after she’d whipped everyone, she decided to help Sartin by forging trading treaties with new allied planets. Even in the face of danger, eye-to-chest with the biggest, hunkiest man she’s ever seen she wants her sword in hand to show him she isn’t going to wilt over in a faint when the going gets tough.

So how can I relate to this larger-than-life heroine? Because her heart is grounded. The evidence is shown in her totally selfless motto—“Family and friends come before all else. Even your own life.” We share a love for those close to us, and a need to follow through with duty no matter how hard the task. And like Zara when I break my ingrained codes of conduct, I always have a darn good reason. Hopefully someday before I go to the grave I’ll get ballsy enough to chart a new course off my much-traced path and shirk any consequences with a toot-a-loo wave.

Would you say you’re a color-inside-the-lines conformist or a rule-breaking doodler extraordinaire? Some people say author’s characters showcase their subconscious wishes and desires, so tell us—how do your heroes and heroines reflect you?
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For more examples of my “outside the box” heroines check out the blurbs and excerpts
on my website—www.maseysplace.com.

2 comments:

MK Mancos/Kathleen Scott said...

Skylar,

I think all heroines, and heroes for that matter, have a little bit of us in them...or we couldn't write them.

You sound a lot like me. I've always went by the rules...though my mind has never worked the same way as the rest of the world's. I don't know if it's fear of punishment, or a simple laziness on my part to think of ways around the rules. I spend most of my extra energy on thinking up ways for my characters to get into trouble, that I don't have enough time to make trouble myself.

That's not saying I'm a wilting voilet. I carry a very strong personality within me and usually have no trouble speaking my mind. Which is how my heroines usually are. Most of the time their acerbic wit and smart mouth gets them into trouble...but the heroes always seem to find this trait charming. Much like my husband and me. I keep up the witty banter and he laughs in the appropriate places.

There is one distinct way my heroines differ from me: they are sex goddesses (or look like ones) and I am pretty much someone's fat Aunt Mathilda. Oh, to have been young, and hot and have all the men drooling. (There was one night back in '87 when I was tanned, blonde and buff that I did have all the heads turning...but that was one night in 40 years. Not a stellar average!)

I think for me, at least, my heroines reflect who I wish I could be. Especially my heroine in my novella Falling Stars (July '07 Red Sage). Daria is a not only a princess, but a fighter pilot and is betrothed to a hunky general of another planet. Space travel, adventure, sex with a hunk...what's not to like about her life?

-Kat

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

I always followed the rules too and worried about what people thought. Now that I'm pushing 40 I find myself changing a lot. I'm come to the conclusion that no one is ever going to come along and give me permission to do what I want to do. I have to just do it. My heroines are like me in that they're usually a bit irreverent, especially with the men in their lives. They don't take any BS and they're usually not afraid to ask for what they want. Unlike me, they usually look good naked and never have to worry about finding a baby sitter.