The book I have in the works right now, Tangled in Divine, has been an experience I won’t forget. In my writing process, I usually have the groupings or couples for subsequent stories planned out two or three books ahead. By doing this, I have a clear idea of where the series is headed, and I enjoy giving my readers a peek at who might possibly have their story told next.
There are times when secondary characters get introduced that I didn’t necessarily intend to write a book for. Gwen Henderson from Heavenly Angel was one of those characters. Gwen charmed readers but she went on the back burner for ten books. I knew if she was meant to be, then my muse would let me know. With characters like this, it usually happens that their heroes or heroine present themselves and I clue into the connection.
Hero number one was Julian Alvarez, from Lusty, Texas. (See Julian’s crossover from Cara Covington’s Lusty Texas here: http://www.bookstrand.com/love-under-two-cowboys ). Julian was made for Gwen. I already knew exactly where I was going with him. But I write ménage.
My heart kept telling me that Chris Potter was Gwen’s other lover. But I knew nothing about him at all. Nada. It was as though he was hiding, which irritated the crap out of me. I couldn’t hear his voice, and he wouldn’t show himself. Then I met him one day and realized why.
During an unrelated Google image search, a picture of this random muscle-bound guy, in flowery swim trunks, making this ridiculous kissie-face for the camera popped up in the search results. He looked like a Jersey Shore cast member. Thick neck. Big, broad shoulders and chest. Clearly of Italian descent. I said, “No, thank you. No way. Nope. Can’t be.” Then he started talking and I knew it. Damn it. It was Chris Potter.
I showed my husband and the first words out of his mouth were, “I bet you ten bucks his name is Guido.”
I could imagine him, talking like Joey Tribbiani from Friends, when he flirts with any woman he meets. “How you doin’?”
I showed my critique partner, Corinne Davies, the picture and she said, “Huh?” Not one to pat my head, she was pretty clear. “WTF are you thinking?”
Every time I looked at his picture, I felt challenged. I started listening to Chris. I’d look at his silly kissie-face and I could almost hear him saying it. “I dare you. I double-fucking dare you to write me and convince readers to love me.”
“Challenge accepted, Guido.”
I put the picture in the book file and I have to be honest—I got a little defensive about Chris. I didn’t share the picture or even want to talk about him. He’d revealed some of his flaws to me by that time, and I was getting attached, but there was another problem. He had the body, but he’s not handsome. Not every hero has to look like a Greek god so I didn’t let that deter me…much. I began writing the book still thinking that I was screwed if I couldn’t come up with believable characterization for him. His enormous family had roots in New Jersey but I didn’t want him to become stereotypically predictable.
My husband and Corinne both thought I was insane when I sat down to watch a few episodes of Jersey Shore. Not to develop the story but because I’m from the South, and can’t relate in a family or among peers the way a Jersey boy would.
I got totally sucked in on Netflix. I had to find out what happened to the big jerk who hit Snooki! WTF? Anyway, once the marathon of shame was over, I came away with some great imagery and I knew a few new words.
As if he knew I was committed, Chris started peeling back layers for me, and to quote him in one scene from the book, “Holy fuckity fuck!”
As the story developed, he shared his tender side with me and gradually became a classic example of what happens when a plain-looking man practically oozes personality. Looks don’t matter. I knew I was on the right track when Chris won Corinne over during one of our sprinting exercises. I shared a bit of the story with her and she flipped.
In a recent conversation regarding his nearly over the top personality, Corinne compared Chris with one of the characters I got to know in my “foray” to the Jersey Shore. I’m paraphrasing here…
Corinne: Remember, the picture you showed me of Chris? I said, “huh?” And now I want to hug him every time I see his name.
Heather: Yeah, if I was single I’d climb him like a tree.
Corinne: It’s his personality that makes you want to climb him like a tree. That “Situation” guy from Jersey Shore should be dropped in the Atlantic with cement overshoes.
Heather: Yeah, I remember liking him at first but then he screwed up, going for the “easy lay” and I hated him.
Corinne: That’s my point. You have two men who have the same look but one makes your panties wet and the other makes you wish you had a gun license.
Chris Potter is one of the biggest, most multi-faceted heroes I’ve ever written. He’s tough as iron until he sets eyes on his woman, and then he melts like a marshmallow at a Homecoming bonfire. I love all my heroes, but when they show me as much of themselves as he did, I’m their willing captive at the keyboard. I know. I say that about all of them.
Let me show you just a little of what I’m talking about…from Tangled in Divine:
Chris hummed along with Gary Allan as he sang “Right Where I Need To Be” on the radio, while pulling into the drive-thru at Divine Drip. He had a hankering for a snack, and one of Cassie’s kolaches and a fresh cup of coffee would do the trick. He eased past the decrepit horse trailer and truck that were double-parked in the parking lot and shook his head. It looked like moving day for someone, since the horse trailer was filled to the roof with plastic bags, boxes and dropcloth-covered furniture.
“Damn, I’d hate to be moving on Christmas Eve.”
The rig had crud caked to the wheel wells and fenders like it had come a great distance through snow, salt, mud, and ice, which was slowly melting into great clods on the ground around the tires. It was cold as a well digger’s ass in Divine but wherever that rig had come from it was even colder.
He pulled up to the drive-thru window and greeted Cassie when she ran up and opened it, gathering her sweater around her to ward of the frigid blast of air.
“Hey, Chris! I just pulled some fresh sausage kolaches from the oven! Want some coffee too?”
Chris grinned at the vivacious woman. “How you doin’, Cass? I’ll take a couple of those kolaches and the biggest cup of coffee you got.”
Cassie blushed as she set to work putting his order together and called out, “Cream and four sugars, coming up! You all ready for Christmas? Seeing family tomorrow?”
“No, I spent Saturday night at home with them and came back yesterday. Got to see my folks, my brothers and sisters, cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles—you name it, I saw it.”
“You’re from Junction, right? That must be nice to have so much family, and for them to be not too far away.”
“Yeah, it’s nice,” he said with a nod as she handed him his order of kolaches in a white paper bag. “But a little loud when we’re all talking, which is all the time. My ears are still ringing.”
“I can imagine! I put an extra kolache in there for you. Merry Christmas!” He returned her wishes and began to roll forward as Cassie called out. “Wait, Chris! Don’t forget your coffee!”
Chris stopped the truck with a jolt, and laughed as Cassie leaned out of the window with his big cup of coffee and he met her in the middle. “Merry Christmas to you too, Cass!”
He winked and rolled forward as she blew him a cheeky kiss. He heard a frightened yelp and a soft thump on the hood of the Dodge, and his heart lurched with fear.
Holy shit! Engage brain before accelerator!
He squinted out the windshield and his heart did a double take when he saw the frightened little face peeking out from the fuzzy Elmer Fudd hat that was just inches above the truck hood.
Oh God! Did I hit her?
He shifted into park and sat there, glued to his seat, staring like a dumbass, watching as the fear and pain left her deep blue eyes and was replaced by absolute fury.
She slammed her bare hand down on the hood and began shouting at him. Firing obscenities at him until the air practically turned blue, she was the most stupendously, majestically beautiful angry woman he’d ever seen in his life.
How to Find Heather Rainier books
Heather Rainier writes erotic romance exclusively for Siren Publishing at http://www.bookstrand.com/heather-rainier Tangled in Divine, the fourteenth book in The Divine Creek Ranch Collection, is scheduled for release on April 19, 2013.
Visit her website and blog at www.heatherrainier.com and on Facebook.
Thanks for visiting Divine with me and thanks again, Pearls and Tink, for welcoming me at Inner Goddess. I love hearing from readers.
Leave a comment here sharing a memory of someone you’ve known who was the classic Teddy bear or Gentle Giant type and I’ll enter your name in a drawing to take place at the end of this week, on March 30th. The winner will receive a free digital copy of Tangled in Divine when it releases on April 19, 2013. **Make sure to leave an e-mail address so I can contact the winner.**