THE FOUR WEIRD THINGS I PUT IN EVERY BOOK
I want to thank Michele and all the convertible drivers at RWTTD for inviting me here today. I love this blog, and all the writers are my author-heroines. Plus, as I prepare this post, it’s record-breaking heat in Minnesota – abs
olutely perfect for putting that top way down!
After I finished my fourth manuscript and had started on the fifth, I realized something a little funky. Although each story was unique and separate from the others, there were some common threads I hadn’t intended to weave between them. For example, every book had a horse in it somewhere. Since I’ve had horses in my life since I can remember, and I raised an equine veterinarian, this isn’t too surprising.
What was surprising were the three other elements the books had in common. I spent a lot of time pop-analyzing myself to figure out why I’d put them there, and I thought I’d share what I discovered. Check out the four things I put in every book!
HORSES: As I said, I’ve loved horses my entire life. I got my first real horse after college, and that horse was with me for twenty-nine years, turned me into a decent rider and helped raise two kids. Sep was a huge part of my life. I also learned a lot about horses and consider myself a semi-expert on them (with help from my previously mentioned daughter the vet). They say write what you know, so I guess I do. “The Rancher and the Rock Star” has horses as a focal point, and so does the next book I’m working on. On the other hand, a series still in the works only mentions them in passing – but they’re there. I may not always need to have a horse in my book—but for now, they give me confidence. Like comfort food!
AN ELDERLY PERSON: I generally have some sort of experienced, wise older person in my stories. It wasn’t really too hard to figure out why. I come from a family that, while not particularly large, does spend a lot of time together. I’ve been surrounded by wise older adults all my life, and I learned early on to appreciate what they have to teach me. I still learn from my amazing mother and father! My struggling heroes and heroines always seem to need guidance. In “The Rancher and the Rock Star,” that comes from Abby’s neighbors Ed and Sylvia. I hope I can always showcase the idea that we need to value our elders. So often we forget.
A BEATLES REFERENCE: I’m old enough to be a real Beatles fan (but a young real fan, honest). I can’t imagine music without them and can’t imagine any character of mine not knowing and appreciating the Beatles. The references are obscure (except for the story I actually set in Liverpool) so you might have to look for an album cover on a wall or a figurine on a shelf, but it’ll be there. (If anyone has read “Rancher” and can remember the Beatles reference there, comment below and I’ll have a special prize. J) I think I put these in my stories because it reminds me to write what I love. This I can see carrying through for as long as I’m fortunate enough to write books. I would even put the Beatles in a futuristic novel—I’m that obsessed!
A BRITISH ACCENT: I’m sure this final thread is tied to the Beatles obsession. I used to practice my Liverpudlian ad nauseum back in the day. Nowadays this carries over to some character, somewhere in each book. In TRATRS, Gray’s ex-wife Ariel is the Brit. A bit-player Brit, but definitely accented! In one book it was a reporter, in another the main character, in another just a voice on the radio. There really isn’t any good reason to include this. It’s an indulgence. If horses are the comfort food in my books, Britspeak is my dark chocolate, making the story fatter and more delicious.
So there you have them. My four story elements. They are not nearly as important as good writing, good structure, and good plotting. But it was truly fun to discover that I have writer quirks. I’ve embraced them because they make me feel just weird enough to pull off a career in story-telling. That takes more chutzpah than I really have, so now you know my crutches!
How about you? If you’re a writer—do you have writer quirks? If you’re a reader, do you notice quirky things about your favorite authors? I’d love to have you share them with me. I have a free copy of “The Rancher and the Rock Star” for one commenter today. And, as I said, I have a special prize for the first person who comes up with the Beatles reference from the book. (If no-one remembers, I’ll post the answer at the end of the day.)
Visit Lizbeth at her website: www.lizbethselvig.com