Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Specific AND universal??? Near-impossible writing tasks

Yesterday someone pulled up a copy of one of my books on his phone and gave it to someone to read.

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.

         “Let that cute, smart, passionate girl that’s inside you out, Chiquita.[LJ1]  You have a big heart stuck in that petite persona you show to the world.” She pulled a bottle out of her purse and spritzed my arm with some Glow by J Lo  perfume. “You’ve gotta get your glow on.”

Tell me Killer Friends: What characters do you identify most with?


Karyn Good said...

Thanks an interesting question. I think if there's a universal quality I can relate to it's stubborness. I love stubborn, dig-in-your-heels-to-the-point-of-madness characters! So stubborn it often lands them in deep trouble.

B.E. Sanderson said...

When I first read Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman, I immediately identified with Maggie. I love her so much.

Mollie said...

I'm trying to think who I most identify with... maybe God, lol?! I may not be as outspoken as him, but sometimes I'm thinking it in my head! I wish I could shake some sense into people who act impulsively instead of thinking things thru first, lol!

I can't help but identify a bit with Maggie. I have a daughter with autism, and often feel incapable and unequal to the job. It's a lot of work worrying about the health of someone you love! No wonder Maggie is looking to her pets for advice!

jblynn said...

Karyn -- Being stubborn gets me into trouble too

B.E. -- That's so cool.

Mollie -- LOL, I understand identifying with God. He's definitely the snarky voice inside my head. ;-)

Aisyah Putri Setiawan said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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