A few minutes later the woman laughed out loud.
When we asked what she was laughing at, she kept giggling as she explained, "Inner Chiquita. I have a friend that says that to me....well, not "chiquita" but something like that."
(I believe the woman is Polish. Sadly, I didn't think to ask her what the equivalent of "inner chiquita" is in Polish.)
Her amusement and connection made my day. Armani Vasquez is one of my more popular characters and I suspect one of the reasons is that we all have (or have had) a friend who is constantly trying to push us out of our comfort zones.
I try very hard to create specific characters who have universal qualities that readers can identify with.
I can't tell you how many people have told me that someone in their family is just like one of the aunts in my CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN series.
And I'm always amazed at how many people say they want to be Maggie's best friend....or Armani's.
Here's an example of Armani's well-meaning pushiness from Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman.
“What’s wrong with you? “ Armani asked sharply, jolting me out of my morose musings.
I couldn’t tell her the truth, that my future might hold a murder. “I dunno. My sister’s dead. My niece is in a coma. Excuse me if I’m not going to win Little Miss Sunshine today.”
“Today, my amiga, you are not even in the running.”
“So go sit somewhere else if you don’t like my company.”
She ignored that as she started rummaging in her purse. “What you need is to channel your inner Chiquita.”
“You want me to channel my inner banana?” I knew what she meant, but I liked teasing her. For as long as I’ve known Armani, she’s been trying to get me to set my “true self” free. I was too bottled up for her taste. I didn’t tell her that my reserve was something I’d carefully constructed over the years. The ability to control my emotions, to lock them up and refuse to express them, was a conscious choice. It was what separated me from my crazy mother. I wasn’t about to let loose any time soon…or ever, if I could help it.Still, Armani kept trying to get me to let go by calling it different things: “Let the world see the real you” and “Be your bitch self” were just two of the previous campaigns she’d waged. She’d dropped it right after the accident, but apparently she’d decided I’d been my mopier-than-usual self for long enough.
Tell me Killer Friends: What characters do you identify most with?