People ask me all the time where my story ideas come from. I never know how to answer—I don’t have ideas… I have characters.
A lot of characters. In my head. All talking at once. Like the dearly departed driving Whoopi nuts in the movie Ghost.
Imaginary friends. I do love my imaginary friends. And I love letting them tell their stories through me. Take my latest story, just released, Crushed.
No, this isn’t like the old Henny Youngman joke, “Take my wife… please.”
Crushed is the first in a series set in Napa and Sonoma counties—two of my favorite places on this planet. No, my love couldn’t have anything to do with great wine and sumptuous food. Why would you think that?
Anyway, Sophia Stone is a viticulturist managing a vineyard for a rather sleazy vintner. A widow, Sophia has navigated the years since her husband’s death and launched a son and a daughter into the world. Now she fills the hollow void in her life by nurturing grapes she grafted from stock bred by her now-deceased grandfather back in Italy. Truly unique grapes, they are all Sophia feels she really has left. Her kids are busy with their own lives and her mother is slipping away, Alzheimer’s stealing her in bits and pieces.
Nico Treviani is a multi-award winning winemaker. After losing his brother a co-winemaker, and inheriting his two thirteen-year-old nieces, Nico questions all his previous assumptions about life. One question assaults him daily: is he capable of making good wine without his brother?
Of course, Sophia’s grapes bring out the unscrupulous as they work to steal what she won’t sell. Nico and Sophia get caught in the middle. Will they or won’t they? Do they win or not? I’m not telling—you’ll have to find out for yourself.
But the whole point is that Sophia and Nico both visited me and started talking—I’m like the shrink for misunderstood characters. 🙂
“Here. Lie down on my couch and tell me what’s bothering you.”
Works every time.
Frankly, I loved the idea of a woman exiting her hands-on motherhood phase wondering what comes next and does she have the courage and energy to fight for her own dreams. Yes, dare I say it, somewhat apropos to this writer’s stage of life.
And I also loved the idea of a successful man thrown into a role he wasn’t prepared for (father for two teenage daughters) and fighting doubts about his own abilities, not only in his personal life but in his professional life as well.
So, I let the two of them talk. And in their stories, I examined some of the gems of life, the questions, the hopes, the fears we all have as we get older.
The great thing about all this is, Sophia brought her friends. All the women are in each story and each willl get her own book and the time to tell her own story.
Yes, I think women’s lives are fascinating: what society expects of us and what we want for ourselves.
So, there you have it.
I just hope these women keep talking to me. I hate it when my imaginary friends clam-up. Most of them can be cajoled into chatter with a few glasses of wine—but they never take the resulting headache the next morning.
You’d think I could dream up more well-behaved imaginary friends.
But then, they wouldn’t be all that interesting then, would they?