I’m thrilled to welcome New Zealander Lisa Whitefern to my blog today. She writes for Samhain Publishing and her first book with Samhain came out in December 2012. I met Lisa through the Romance Writers of New Zealand, and it’s awesome seeing her at Samhain now as a fellow author. So pull up a seat, grab your beverage and snack of choice and welcome Lisa.
Thanks, Shelley. I was so honoured to be asked to be a guest on your blog! I’ve been such a fan since I read Lynx to the Pharaoh, and you were the inspiration for me discovering the great digital first publishers like Samhain and Ellora’s Cave and for my becoming an erotic romance writer.
You and the heroine of the last romance novel you read or wrote have something in common. You both have painful “back story wounds” and you sometimes find it difficult to “let go”.
It’s a hard lesson, but in order to have a better life you need to try and let go of your pain, and if you’re a writer your characters need to eventually let go of a lot of their individual hurts. By the end of a romance novel the hero and heroine need to have worked together to overcome their past pain in order to achieve that all important character growth and emotional impact that readers of romance expect. Ultimately romance novels explore the great potential of love to help heal life’s most painful experiences.
Spiritual teacher Eckhart Toll says we create and maintain problems in order to achieve a sense of identity. Likewise an author must create what editor Elizabeth Lyon calls a “back-story wound” this is a traumatic event in the character’s past that leaves its mark on the character. A protagonist in a full length novel should probably have more than one back-story wound.
In my novel Wicked Wonderland the heroine was found as a newborn baby in a New York City dumpster so she has a bit of a chip on her shoulder about that.
She also has a relentless anonymous stalker who leaves her a lot of insulting messages referring to the circumstances of her birth, and she struggles to understand the two half-fae heroes who come from another world where bisexuality and ménage relationships are the norm.
In real life we replay our mistakes and our losses over and over again and allow them to affect our present actions as though holding on gives us some power over our past. In reality it just damages out health. In a romance novel, our heroine needs back-story wounds for depth and to create conflict in the romance, but if she doesn’t find ways to heal her pain during the course of the novel she can seem, passive and reading about her issues can become repetitive.
In my novel Wicked Wonderland my heroine was shocked ten years ago by the sexual relationship between her ex-boyfriend and her male best friend. Learning to come to terms with it, and accept that both these men love her as well as each other, is part of her emotional journey.
In the paranormal world of Wicked Wonderland human self-esteems issues can inhibit half-fae from performing magic, even making them powerless, half-fae must find ways of letting go of their "back-story" wounds before they can connect with their fated mates and perform magic.
My heroine Lilly becomes able to perform magic after she lets go of the many painful experiences in her past.
Readers of romance need to see the dynamic struggle your characters go through to let go of the pain of their pasts and the ways in which the healing power of love transforms them.
Here is an excerpt from Wicked Wonderland when my heroine’s life is pretty bleak just before she meets her two heroes
Sonya stopped by the trash cans, holding Lilly tightly around the waist from behind. Kandy grabbed hold of the chiffon on the front of her angel costume. Lilly shook and twisted violently to try to break their grasp, and part of her angel costume tore. “Let go of me, you assholes!”
She jabbed backward with her elbow, connecting with Sonya’s stomach, and heard the taller stripper gasp with momentary pain, but unfortunately, Sonya didn’t loosen her hold. “Oooooh! Rudolph’ll pay double for that!” Kandy exclaimed.
Lilly didn’t know why she did it. Maybe it was a way of dissociating from a horrible situation, maybe it was because her heart always ached to make music when she was in pain, but she began to hum, the sound starting low in her throat. She closed her eyes and played a flute in her head, filling her mind with a rich and clear melody, which, for a moment, took her right out of her nasty situation. Then a vicious pinch froze the sound in her lungs. Lilly twisted around enough to look up at Sonya. Something frightening had happened to Sonya’s face. It became very still, and the stripper’s eyes narrowed into slits that showed too much amber and almost no pupil, like the eyes of a snake or some other reptile. A sharp chill ran up Lilly’s spine.
“Don’t fucking hum.” Sonya spat out the words.
“Who cares if she hums? She’s just a weirdo,” Bambi interrupted. “I don’t care what she does as long as she doesn’t take our money again.” The words of the other stripper somehow returned everything to relative normality.
I must have been imaging the whole thing. Must have been the cold messing with my brain.
“You steal our tips, Rudolph, and I’ll give you a red nose, all right.” Sonya’s voice seemed inhuman in its rage. Fear swelled around Lilly like a choking fog. The tall stripper swung Lilly around like a toy, then pulled her fist back. Before Lilly could react, the fist connected with her nose. Shooting pain accompanied a sickening crack. Blood ran down her throat, tasting like metal, and all she could see was an ocean of red.
“Enjoy, Dumpster Girl!” Sonya tipped her upside down and slammed her headfirst into an empty trash can.
“Remember, Rudolph, you’ll never fit in anywhere. You’ll always be an outcast left out of all the reindeer games.” The other strippers convulsed with laughter.
Samhain link to buy Wicked Wonderland http://store.samhainpublishing.com/wicked-wonderland-p-7081.html
Since she came of age Lisa Whitefern has embarrassed people by talking about sex. Now she writes the hottest of erotic romance and erotica.
Lisa has a life-long passion for fairy tales and fantasy. Ever since her teacher read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to her class when she was six, Lisa’s been looking for ways to visit Narnia.
Lisa thinks it immensely unfair she can’t wiggle her nose to clean her house like Samantha in the TV show Bewitched.
She has a master’s degree with honors in English Literature, reads tarot cards and tutors children of all ages in English after school.
Although born in New York City to American parents Lisa has lived most of her life in New Zealand. She now lives in the foothills of the beautiful Waitakere Ranges of Auckland with her husband and her two gorgeous sons.