I strive to write the kind of characters I would want to hang out with—fun, funny, and multi-dimensional. They’re feisty and unpredictable. Of course, this also means that they sometimes revolt and refuse to follow my plot outlines, but I think this adds a certain sense of spontaneity to the story…a certain sense of spontaneity that makes me weep bitter tears during revisions!
The first thing I do when brainstorming for a new book is to make some phone calls, do some Internet searches, and start researching. Over the last few years, I’ve gone to dog shows, pastry classes, and high-end salons, all in the name of research. (Well, okay, that last one might’ve been a multi-tasker!)
Research is really fun, if you do it right. It’s fascinating to get little peeks into other careers, other lifestyles, other cultures. (Training to be a surgeon = like 16 years. Interviewing a physician for a chapter set in an emergency room = like 22 minutes. Imagining you’re a doctor is much more time-efficient!) Emily, the bride-to-be in The Week Before the Wedding, is engaged to a transplant surgeon, and I conducted an impromptu Saturday night Q & A about lung transplants with a surgeon who was downing tequila shots while he explained the importance of the vena cava to me. (I forced myself to choke down a margarita in the spirit of camaraderie. These are the sacrifices I make for my craft!)
While writing The Week Before the Wedding, I also interviewed a flight attendant, a film producer, and an M.B.A. grad, and all of them had hilarious stories to tell. The flight attendant gave me the run-down of her training and qualifications, but she also mentioned how much she hated wearing black tights with a navy skirt. (“It may be airline regulations, but it goes against all the laws of God and nature!”) She spun tales of the smarmy first-class passengers that had hit on her and the adventures she’d had on two-day layovers in Puerto Rico. You’re simply not going to get those gems from a website or a book about aviation.
So first do your research, and then start asking yourself questions. A lot of questions. What kind of heroine dares to open negotiations with a cranky professor who teaches a graduate seminar in negotiating? What kind of hero is drawn to the world of film production, which requires laser-like focus, never-say-die tenacity, and unlimited resourcefulness? How do their career strengths manifest in their personal lives? In the case of Emily and her hottie ex-husband, Ryan, we see a heroine and hero who are evenly matched. They are worthy adversaries, and they rock each other’s world in every way. And of course, they revolted halfway through the book and refused to follow my original story outline…but they did it together. Just to show me that they could.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
After enduring a chaotic childhood, Emily McKellips yearns for a drama-free life, complete with a white picket fence. Her dreams are about to come true: She has a stellar career, a gorgeous house, and a fiancé any woman would die for. But as friends and family arrive in picturesque Valentine, Vermont, for her wedding, an uninvited guest shows up. Ryan is Emily’s first husband from a disastrous starter marriage. They wed on a whim, only to discover that combustible chemistry couldn’t ensure a happily ever after. But Ryan is no longer the headstrong boy she left behind. He’s now a successful film producer who just happens to be scouting a resort in Valentine with his adorable retriever in tow. As the bridesmaids revolt and the mothers of the bride and groom do battle, Emily is surprised to discover new sides of both her ex and her fiancé. She thought she had life and love all figured out, but the next seven days might change her mind—and her heart.
BIO: Beth Kendrick lives in Arizona with her trusty rescue dogs, Roxie Hart and Friday. She is the author of nine women’s fiction books, including The Week Before the Wedding and Nearlyweds, which was made into a Hallmark Channel movie.
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