If you’ve not guessed from previous blog posts, I’m a bit of an introvert. I just cannot do the small talk thing at all. I want to run every time I hear someone make any kind of comment about the weather. Sometimes I don’t know what to discuss with people who are very much into sports and outdoors. I like air conditioning and the occasional swim. I watch little TV, and what I watch is something involving horror, superheroes, or fantasy elements. Nope, no football. I tried to get myself a working knowledge of sports. I used to go with my ex-husband to Super Bowl parties. To keep myself entertained, I concocted backstories for the players. What kinds of backstories? Coaches had players’ friends and relatives in an underground bunker and were going to do horrible things to them if the team did not win. I invented personalities and challenges for the players…and kept all of this completely to myself, because I assumed the other party attendees wouldn’t get it.
Another time, my sister and I trolled the Super Bowl. We were in Atlantic City and decided over dinner that we should go to a busy sports bar. I remember the teams that were playing. It was the Broncos and the Seahawks. However, we decided to call them the Bulls and the Penguins. We shouted things like: “Yay, catch the ball!” “He’s running fast. Yay, run fast!” “Oh, look, they’re in a cuddle. That guy cupped the other one’s ass. Definitely an ass cup.” “Get a hole in one!” We got some weird looks. And then my sister told one dude whose team won, “Congratulations.” And he beamed and said, “Thank you so much.” As if him sitting on a couch at Caesar’s contributed to the team’s winning.
But back on the topic, there are people I speak with continuously. And we argue a lot. No, I’m not referring to that uncle who always talks about politics. I’m referring to my characters.
Most recently, I was writing a scene with twins, Jinny and Jennet. Mind you, I am writing fantasy and I was hoping the story would appeal to a wide age audience. Jinny is a bit of a party girl. She likes cute men, drinks, and excitement. An argument arose between Jinny, Jennet, and a faerie. Jinny ignored my efforts to make this story appeal to all age groups and piped in with a dick joke. “Jinny,” I said, “could you tone it down?” Jinny replied, “What? This story has a lack of dick jokes. I’m helping.” I rolled my eyes and tried again. “I’m an American writer. I can throw in all kinds of violence, and most people will shrug it off, but they’ll be up in arms about this.” Jinny giggled. “Hah. They’re afraid of dingly-dangly bits. You could market this as horror then.” And back and forth we went. In the end, Jinny won. There are now dick jokes in The Golden Bell.
Truthfully, I don’t get how violence can be overlooked, but people react like a vampire to garlic when there are even hints at sex. Eh, maybe those Puritanical relics shouldn’t pick up my books then.
Again, back to the topic. Some of the worst arguments happened when I wrote the not published follow-up to Siren Slave. (Yes, it’s sitting on my laptop, in need of revisions, but mostly finished.) This story was about a different couple, but still featured Siegfried and Freya. Siegfried has heaps of trust issues, and no, they were not cured through love. Siegfried trusted Freya, but not a lot of other people. In comes this new couple, including a pretty, easily-distracted vampire king, who likes to make shadow puppets. Siegfried hated him and his knee-length silver hair. It didn’t help that the vampire king was rather authoritarian. Siegfried used any excuse to pick on him, especially the times when he was training the king to fight in magical combat. After a few days of angry, stompy pacing around my living room, dining room, and kitchen, Siegfried still would not relent. “He’s an ass, and do you not realize the shit he’s pulled?” he insisted, and then recited the long list of the vampire king’s crimes.
My ex-husband asked what was wrong. I told him, and, no, he didn’t get it. I was essentially arguing with someone who didn’t exist outside of my head. And so, the argument with Siegfried continued, and finally, he and the vampire king fought, destroying half an island in the process.
What have I learned? I usually lose when I start arguing with my characters, and also, talking to them is far more interesting than sports stats and chatter about the weather. And I can continue my arguments with them while occasionally nodding as the real human across from me rambles about shopping sales.