The heroine of my latest Hope’s Crossing book, CHRISTMAS IN SNOWFLAKE CANYON, out next week, is a real witch, with a capital B.
I know! What a horrible thing for a writer to call her own creation – especially a character with a starring role in a 300-something page book.
Here’s the thing, though. Throughout the entire Hope’s Crossing series, Genevieve Beaumont was one of those fun-to-write characters who was, well, not very nice. She was snobbish and self-absorbed and wanted everything in her world to gleam with polished perfection. She’s the kind of person who would probably take an iron to her holiday ribbons to make sure they lie flat (or, most likely, pay someone else to do it for her!).
She ran roughshod over every merchant in Hope’s Crossing while planning her grand society wedding to a man who made her parents swoon with joy.
I never intended to write her book. When I first introduced Genevieve in my first Hope’s Crossing book, BLACKBERRY SUMMER, I shamelessly used her as a sort of foil to illustrate how kind and compassionate my heroine of that book was in contrast.
I thought that would be the end of it but Gen began to take on a life of her own through the other books of the series (as characters are stubbornly prone to do!). Some pretty tough things happened to her in the previous books, including the implosion of her wedding in a humiliating way.
I started to feel a little sorry for what I had put her through, but I still didn’t like her much.
To my great shock, after I introduced Dylan Caine – the emotionally and physically damaged war hero whose sister is the heroine of my book WILLOWLEAF LANE – I couldn’t shake the impression that Gen just might be the perfect woman for him.
How could I write an entire book about a woman I didn’t like and, most worrisome, neither did any of my readers?
I’ll be honest, I started the manuscript with a gut full of anxiety. As it turned out, I shouldn’t have worried. Gen had her own story to tell. She was a writer’s dream, complex and layered and fun. She was intensely vulnerable about some things, obnoxiously arrogant about others.
At heart, she was a woman struggling to figure herself out after years of trying to be what everyone else expected.
From the first page, she and Dylan just clicked.
Yes, she has her b*tchy moments in this book. But she also has moments of great kindness and earnestness.
Part of Genevieve’s emotional journey in CHRISTMAS IN SNOWFLAKE CANYON is learning to look past her own idea of her perfect man and her perfect future to what she finally realizes will truly make her happy (of course, then she has to convince Dylan, which is an entirely different battle!).
Writing her book has been a great reminder to me that in real life too, sometimes we need to look beyond surface impressions to the heart.
Unfortunately, I’ve had more than one experience where I’ve jumped to an immediate judgment about a person, only to be proved embarrassingly wrong.
Once my husband and I were traveling home from a medical visit with our son two hours from our home when our vehicle engine suddenly stopped dead on the Interstate. My husband managed to coast to an upcoming offramp and pull to the shoulder. We were trying to call for help when a man pulled up behind us in a beat-up car.
He was absolutely the last person I would have expected to lend a helping hand. Rough-edged, dirty, tattoos on every available skin surface. But he jumped right in and helped my husband push our vehicle to an even safer spot on the road and waited to be sure we had help coming before he headed on his way.
Have you ever had a similar experience? Or have you ever thought at first a person wasn’t very nice and they proved you wrong? Or maybe you thought you would hate a place, a movie or a recipe and ended up loving it instead. I would love to hear! I’ll give a copy of CHRISTMAS IN SNOWFLAKE CANYON as well as a hand-beaded bookmark to one person who responds.
RaeAnne Thayne is a USA Today bestselling author and four-time RITA finalist who has written more than 40 books for HQN, Silhouette Special Edition, Silhouette Intimate Moments/Romantic Suspense and Bantam Loveswept. She finds inspiration from the beautiful mountains of northern Utah, where she lives with her family.