Imperfect Heroes and Heroines
As an author who writes by the seat of my pants, my heroes and heroines are not uber marvelous, perfect people. Instead, their characters are very much a reflection of the day I’ve had and the mood I’m in when I begin their stories.
When I started writing The White Carnation, I’d had one of those days. I’d just discovered that the publisher I’d trusted, the one I’d recommended to other writers, was a lying, deceitful con artist, and I’d fallen for her schmooze lock, stock, and barrel. I felt as if I’d been betrayed by people who should’ve had my back—even worse, I’d suggested the publishers to others, and they too got screwed. Thus, Faye’s early character,her inability to trust others, was forged in that moment of anger. She’d been hurt by those who should’ve taken care of her, should’ve supported her, should’ve chased the bogeyman away, and made things right.
By the time I finished the initial chapter one, I’d calmed down, thanks to wonderful, supportive writer friends who’d also been shafted by said publisher, and so, when I started writing Rob, the hero, I was still hurting by what had happened, but this hurt was tempered by the reality that others I call friends were aching, too. Rob, as a wounded party, sees what happened as a lack of faith in him, but because he can’t just turn off his emotions, he’s protective and ready to do whatever he can to help Faye through the agonies she endures in the book.
Both Faye and Rob are imperfect. They’ve been hurt and are protective of themselves and their emotions, but sometime, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and lets us see what monsters really lurk in the hearts of men. My life is filled with wonderful, kind, and imperfect people, but they are the best kind of friends to have. They make mistakes, trip, and fall because of them, but they get back on their feet and trudge on. It isn’t the easy victories that forge character; it’s the tough ones that you kick and scream your way through that make you who and what you are.
Life goes on. Many ups and downs contributed to Rob and Faye’s characters, but because I believe in love and the triumph of good over evil, both characters learn to trust and respect one another before the book ends. Sadly, in real life, people give up on love too quickly. In my fantasy world, I can give anyone a second chance.
I hope you enjoy spending time with Rob and Faye as together they hunt for the Harvester.
Visit my website for buy links to The White Carnation. http://www.mhsusannematthews.ca/
Here’s the opening scene from The White Carnation.
“Don’t do me any more favors! One of these days, Sloan, I’ll take one of these crappy assignments and turn it into a Pulitzer, just watch and see.”
Faye stormed out of the editor’s office, slamming the door behind her. The glass pane rattled in its frame. Her chestnut ponytail swished from side to side as she swiftly crossed the large room to her cubicle, the despised assignment sheet crumpled in the fisted hand at her side.
Not that this one will be the one. A frigging engagement party. What next? Advice to the lovelorn? Haven’t I paid for my damn sins yet?
She ignored the sly “I told you so” looks on the faces of her fellow reporters as she passed each desk. Journalism was a dog-eat-dog business, and even after a year, she was still the main item on the menu. She was an investigative reporter, not a frigging social columnist. Although she didn’t give a damn about Fifi or Fido and was sick to death of playing nice-nice with dog-show judges and patrons alike, she’d had a great idea for a story, one with teeth, and Sloan, that no-good, low-down snake, had given it to the competition.
Shafted again. Damn it.
Weren’t there any decent people left in the newspaper business? When she’d suggested looking into the extravagances she’d seen covering dog shows the last few months, Sloan had promised to consider it, and now, not two hours later, he’d just told her Tina Jackson would be looking into it.
That bitch has been gunning for my job from the minute she got here. Faye huffed out a frustrated breath. Abel Rogers, the newspaper’s top criminal investigative reporter, was scheduled to retire in three months. Faye had hoped to make it back into the Boston Examiner’s crime beat section with the dog show exposé. But from now on, instead of covering dog shows for Around Town, the local page, she’d be having tea with the upper crust as a second-string society columnist. La-de-da! And he considers this a step up? Bullshit. Half the time I won’t even have a byline. Plopping down on her chair, she flung the offending wad of paper onto her desk.
“Temper, temper,” said Phil, one of the transplanted Brits who worked as an errand boy for the senior staff. “You could’ve broken the boss’s bloody window.”
“Too bad I didn’t,” she answered and turned her back on him.
“Don’t get your knickers in a knot, princess. I don’t agree with the way he’s treating you either. You’re better than this.” He stomped off after dropping two memos on her desk.
Faye reached for them—the first was about reallocating parking spaces. Crap. Can’t they leave anything alone? The second was about improper use of the photocopier. Some idiot must have been taking butt shots again.
Her cubicle, a poor replacement for the broom closet-sized office she’d had, was the one closest to the far wall. She stared at the chaos atop her credenza—the assorted bits and pieces of what had once been a thriving reporter’s career. In one corner stood a cut-glass vase filled with year-old remnants of a dozen red roses, their black, wilted skeletons a constant reminder of her disgrace. Turning the partitions around to ensure a small measure of privacy hadn’t helped. Right now, she could feel Tina Jackson gloating right through the portable walls. It was her idea, her story, and now that fool who couldn’t write her way out of a paper bag and hadn’t had an original thought in a decade, was going to get the credit. What Faye wouldn’t give for the courage to tell Sloan to take his job and shove it.
Working at one of Boston’s largest newspapers as its top investigative reporter had been her dream, and she’d sacrificed too much to give up on it just yet. This was just a temporary setback. She’d find a story, investigate it on her own, and present him with a fait accompli. There had to be hundreds of juicy stories out there just waiting for her. If she could find the right one, she might freelance and sell it to the highest bidder.
Who am I kidding? I can barely make ends meet on my miserable paycheck and don’t have time for anything else—at least nothing worthy of a Pulitzer.
Maybe she should take some time off and go visit her mother. She hadn’t been home since her stepdad’s funeral six months ago. She was already depressed; going to Kennebunkport couldn’t make her feel any worse. She picked up the phone and was surprised by the sound indicating she had a message waiting. No one had bothered to call and leave her a message in months.
She punched in the necessary codes. The automated voice indicated the call had come in two days ago. Damn it. She’d gotten complacent dwelling in her misery, preferring the anonymity of self-isolation to listening to the commiserations of others. Was this one of them—someone devious enough to try to dig up more dirt for the rumor mill? After all, the story of her disgrace was old news now. They’d need fresh meat to revive it. Annoyed with herself, yet too curious to erase the message, she pressed the button to retrieve it.
“Hello, Faye. This is Lucy Green, Mary’s mother. I need to talk to you. Can you come by the apartment this afternoon? I wouldn’t bother you, but I can’t think of anyone else who could help me. My number is 617-635-8765.”
Surprised, Faye jotted the name and number on a sticky note before hanging up.
Weird! What can I possibly do for Mary’s mom?
Mary had been her best friend—her BFF long before the term had become popular. They’d been inseparable in high school and at Boston College, but once Faye had gotten her shot at major crime stories and Mary had moved to New York, they’d drifted apart. They kept in touch, mostly through online chats and emails, with a few phone calls thrown in. She made a point of seeing Mary if she happened to be in the Big Apple, but it had been a while. The last time she’d spoken to her had been about four months ago in January, when Mary had called to wish her a happy birthday. Mary hadn’t been feeling well and had cancelled her annual visit. Faye had celebrated alone with a pint of gourmet ice cream and a bottle of Irish whiskey. She’d never even called to see if her friend was feeling better—she’d started investigating the dog show, and when she was on a story, as Mary had often said, the world could blow up around her and Faye would never notice.
She frowned and bit her lower lip. Lucy Green sounded upset, and that compounded Faye’s guilt about not calling Mary or checking her messages sooner. Maybe there was something seriously wrong with her old friend. Faye liked Mrs. Green, even if the woman’s ideas and attitudes didn’t keep pace with the times. Mary was exactly the opposite. Modern, embracing every aspect of the twenty-first century, her outlook on life was Qué sera, sera—what will be, will be. Her happy-go-lucky acceptance of whatever life threw at her had often irritated Faye, who was as emotional and explosive as they came. Where Mary made lemonade out of life’s lemons, Faye just scowled and ate the sour fruit.