Welcome to Mystery Mondays. Today we have author Kathleen Duhamel here to talk to use about creating memorable heroines. Kathleen and I connected when Kathleen joined the group of authors published by Imajin Books. I’ve since read all her books, and love them. You might too!
So over to Kathleen…
CREATING MEMORABLE HEROINES
By Kathleen Duhamel
A few years ago, when I began writing what became my first novel, Deep Blue, I had no idea it would ever be published, much less met with positive reviews. To begin with, I worried that my characters were too old to be relatable. Until recently, conventional romance and women’s fiction seldom featured characters past their thirties. When Deep Blue begins, Claire Martin is a 58-year-old “barely not starving” artist and her love interest is 62-year-old musician, Robert Silver. Would readers be turned off by the idea of these two enjoying a healthy love/sex life?
Deep Blue is also not a conventional “romance” in the sense that not every problem in the relationship gets resolved before the last page. Life tends to get a lot more complicated when you’re attempting to balance the demands of children, grandchildren, health issues, career pressures, and aging parents, and I wanted to touch on these issues in the book. Surprisingly, the age issue I worried about turned out to be a bonus for some readers, who found the senior love story “refreshing.”
What began as one book has morphed into three, with Deep End, the third book in the trilogy, due out in fall/winter 2017. As in the first and second books, what drives the plot is Claire’s emotional journey. While love is certainly part of that journey, she also is forced to deal with several unresolved issues in her life as a new wife and unexpected stepmother.
Here are my tips on how to create a strong female character that readers will remember.
Give her a spine.
At 58, Claire is certainly older (and presumably wiser) than younger heroines, having been through a few failed relationships, an acrimonious divorce, and financial struggles. She’s also a cancer survivor, which makes her identifiable with millions of others. Although she hasn’t given up on love, she’s somewhat wary of it, especially when a famous and charming man enters the picture and wants to sweep her into his overblown lifestyle.
She insists on solving her own problems without having to be “rescued” by her man.
However, she’s also a bit of a risk taker, and after being advised by her BFF to “go for it,” she begins an improbable, long-distance relationship with Rob. The same risk-taking behavior emerges in Book 2, Deeper, when she’s forced to acknowledge her husband’s eight-year-old love child and must decide if she’s willing to continue her marriage under vastly different circumstances.
Drawing on the same inner strength that got her through cancer treatment, she is ultimately able to express her disappointment and anger to Rob, while re-affirming her commitment to him and her new step-son.
Perhaps the greatest test of her inner resolve occurs in Deep End, when a disaster forces her to confront the possibility of life without her beloved husband.
Give her a guiding principle.
Claire’s favorite quote, which also becomes her mantra, is from Goethe: “Nothing is worth more than this day.” It is the perfect summation of who she is and how she approaches her post-cancer life. Not even a life-threatening illness could take away her fun-loving spirit and her determination to live fully, the very qualities that initially attracted Rob to her.
Let her have flaws.
She’s far from perfect. Claire worries about her scarred abdomen, disfigured from cancer surgeries. She continues to obsess over Rob’s first wife, a brilliant screenwriter killed in a car accident. Doubts about her relationship and endless taunts by Baby Mama land her in legal trouble and cause her to lose a promising new client. Her loathing of the news media manages to gain her more publicity, instead of less.
Like so many of us, she tends to suppress her negative feelings until they erupt in a damaging way. Although she struggles at times, the fact that she is able to move past her struggles and re-focus on what is most important in her life makes her a well-rounded and likeable heroine, scars and all.
WHO IS KATHLEEN DUHAMEL?
Kathleen Duhamel is the author of the Deep Blue Trilogy (Deep Blue, Deeper, and Deep End) and At Home With Andre. She wrote and illustrated her first short story at the age of eight, and has been a writer for most of her life.. Her love of the written word continued throughout her varied career as a newspaper journalist and editor, public relations executive, freelance travel writer and owner/operator of two small businesses. A native of Texas, she has spent most of her adult life in Colorado. She lives in the Denver area with her husband, a geriatric standard poodle and a spoiled cat. She is a lifelong devotee of rock and soul music, contemporary art, and pop culture.
Kathleen’s latest novel is coming out this fall DEEP END:
When her close-to-perfect world falls apart, can love still prevail?
After years of struggle and harsh criticism, happily married rock star wife Claire Martin has finally achieved the career success of her dreams. As the featured artist in an international traveling exhibit, she looks forward to her best year ever, while her husband, singer Robert Silver of the legendary band Deep Blue, contemplates a return to touring.
Things are also looking up for Claire’s best friend, Denise Hrivnak, who’s planning her wedding to Robert’s musical partner, Art Hoffman. However, what should have been most joyful day of Denise’s life turns to tragedy when an unexpected event forces both woman to contemplate the terrifying possibility of life without the men they love.
Besieged by the paparazzi and sick with worry, Claire waits for answers in a Las Vegas hotel room, thinking over her improbable relationship with Rob and praying that love alone is strong enough to bring her husband back from the brink.
Secrets of the past seldom stay buried forever…
Now married to the love of her life, landscape artist Claire Martin’s peaceful world is rocked by an unexpected revelation that crushes her dreams of the future and causes her to question everything she thought she knew about her famous husband, legendary singer Robert Silver of the band Deep Blue.
Although Robert is now clean and sober, and embarking on a new opportunity with his musical partner Art Hoffman, the consequences of one night long ago fracture his family and threaten his marriage to the woman who loves him like no one else.
Will love survive, or will career pressures, family turmoil and the ever-present specter of the paparazzi destroy their new life together?
WHERE TO FIND KATHLEEN: