From Kylie: Meeting today’s guest is by far one of my favorite memories from last year’s conference in New York. Imagine nine authors lolling in a limo, sipping champagne taking the long way to the always fab Harlequin party. Virna was one of those authors, and I was drawn immediately to her genuine interest in people and infectious humor. This multi-talented former criminal prosecutor is now a national bestselling author of the Para-Ops series (Chosen By Sin Book 3, now available). She also writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Romantic Suspense (It Started That Night, May 2012) and HQN (Shades of Desire, June 2012.) She’s authored numerous indie titles. If I were you, I’d be running out to buy my copies! Oh, wait, read her thought-provoking post first!
Thank you to Kylie Brant and the other Top Down authors for having me as a guest today. Can I just say—Wow! I’ve read so many wonderful books by you ladies and can’t thank you enough.
I’m not a small talk kinda girl. I can do it, but at some point it just seems like a missed opportunity. I like to really get to know people and find out what makes them tick. I’ve learned, however, that not everyone is comfortable sharing their complexities with others. I get that because I’m a private person, too. Unless I feel a connection with someone, I’m not going to disclose much about myself, either. Given that, I think I’m pretty good at gauging others. I’ll put out some feelers, see what happens, and pull back when necessary.
My fictional characters don’t require this kind of sensitivity. I can delve deep, uncovering secrets that are rich, dark, and powerful, and explore how they’ve impacted the characters’ behavior and relationships. I can also take someone who’s said or done the wrong things in the past, or maybe taken the safe path one time too many, and give her a fresh start. It’s what we all crave on occasion, isn’t it? An expedient way to cut through the guilt, insecurity, and fear and move on to something better.
If I was writing myself, my true self, into a story and wasn’t afraid to dig deep, I’d figure out why I was on a perpetual diet but unable to keep the weight off, why I was becoming more and more willing to hide out at home rather than meet new people, and why I was becoming more and more convinced I sucked as a writer even as I continue to sell more and more books. More importantly, I wouldn’t stop at the “why” of it—I’d make myself face challenge upon challenge, losing some and winning some, until I experienced some huge, life-altering realizations. And although my life still wouldn’t be perfect, it would certainly have been tested. Improved. Enriched. And it wouldn’t matter if I’d gone into the whole adventure kicking and screaming and shouting denials, because given I was a fictional character, I’d have no choice but to play along and accept my HEA.
But alas, it’s not my life I get to craft, at least not quite so ruthlessly. Instead, I must juggle and stumble, and fumble and rejoice along with the rest of the real world. I can’t delete scenes from my life and pretend they were never there. I can’t revise my past to make it sound better. And to some extent, I can’t even limit whom I show my story to, not without becoming a full-on hermit.
My life story isn’t limited to a finite number of pages, either. I share my voice and my spirit, not just in my books but through my kids and, hopefully, through the friendship I offer to others. And even as I struggle and bemoan my failures, I know I’m real. My life’s real. At the end of it, I hope I’ve shared what I was supposed to with the people I was supposed to.
If you were going to write your story, what theme or subject would you focus on? I’m giving away a copy of any one of my books–winner’s choice–to one lucky commenter!