Saturday, July 23, 2011

Author Amie Louellen talks about the "What if" syndrome

The “What If?” Syndrome

The “What if?” Syndrome is a common ailment among writers, young and old alike. It has no boundaries, attacks indiscriminately, and will not let go until the idea is firmly on paper. Computers are the best antidote for a bad case of the “what if?“s. But the urge to record the “what if?”s is so strong that the back of a bank deposit slip will suffice. What exactly are the “what if”s? Anyone who writes would say, the “What if?”s  are the forces that drives writers to write.
I was recently asked in an interview where the idea for Brodie’s Bride came from. Honestly , it’s been a long time since I started Brodie and Savanna’s story. So long that I had to give it some thought. And that in turn made me think about how the idea developed.
In case you didn’t read that post about the initial idea (shocking I know since every word I write is golden, but there may be a few of you who missed it) Here’s how the story  came about.
There’s an old country song by Shelly West (I told you it was old) called Jose Quervo. And one of the verses goes—
Now wait a minute 
Things don't look too familiar 
Who is the cowboy who’s sleeping beside me 
He's awful cute 
But how'd I get his shirt on? 
I had too much tequila last night”

And that made me think, “What if my heroine goes out on the town, then wakes up the next morning in bed with a man she doesn’t know?”

Well, now that might be very interesting, but this is a romance (originally targeted for Harlequin) and there are certain rules that have to be followed. Is it really appropriate for her to go out and completely and knowingly over-indulge? Some might answer yes, but I thought there needed to be an innocence in my heroine that most likely wouldn’t be a part of someone who tied one on to the extent that she marries a man she doesn’t love—or KNOW. (Those pesky rules again.) So I made her drunkenness accidental. She takes allergy medication and orders an iced tea in a bar. She thinks she’s drinking regular sweet tea, but it’s the Long Island version. Multiply that by three or four and voila—an innocent but inebriated heroine. In case there’s anyone out there reading this who has never taken allergy medication and drank alcohol afterwards, let me just tell you…not a good idea. But now how come my heroine—whom I want to have a certain innocence—is in a bar? Has to be a valid reason. Of course she’s tailing her cheating fiancé hoping to catch him in the act (so to speak).

Now our hero. Why would Brodie, a man who believes that love is destined to leave him behind, marry a woman he doesn’t know and at second glance believes to be a prostitute? Tequila. Lots and lots of tequila. It’s a double standard, I know, but over indulgence in a man is theoretically more acceptable than the same actions in a woman. (Rules, rules.) But he can’t just go out and party-hardy. He’s a romance hero. There are certain standards. So what would make Brodie feel the need to drown his emotions in a bottle? Well, how about the fact that his two best friends in the world have finally, finally gotten married after everything their families have put them through? He’s relieved, jealous, happy, and depressed all at the same time. He’s wondering why his own marriage failed, why his mother left him when he was young and why, why, why is he the only person in the world fated to be alone? Once he leaves his friends, he decides to stop off at a bar—just so happens not to be the best little club in Vegas—decides to have a drink and…the next thing he knows, he’s married to a stranger.

Why married? Rules again and a sign of the time—remember I started this many years ago. I thought it might be better to have them get married. They could wake up in bed together not married and leave that afternoon never to see each other again.  There has to be something to hold them together. My choices were married or baby. I chose marriage.

I’m certain every writer’s thought processes are different. But I do believe when people(read non-writers) ask where an idea comes from, this is what they really want to know. How did the writer get from idea to story? How did I get from song lyrics to romance novel?

 A lot of “What ifs”!

Amie Louellen--Brodie's Bride
Available now
from the Wild Rose Press

Amie Louellen loves nothing more than a good book.  Except for her family…and maybe homemade tacos…and shoes.  But reading and writing are definitely high on the list. When she's not creating quirky characters and happy endings she enjoys going to little league baseball games and boy scout meetings. Born and bred in Mississippi, Amie is a transplanted Southern Belle who now lives in Oklahoma with her deputy husband, their genius son, a spoiled cat, and one very hyper beagle.

Amie Louellen--author FaceBook

Blurb--Waking up next to a beautiful golden-haired stranger isn’t the worst thing that has ever happened to Brodie Harper, but staying in a fake marriage in order to gain a new construction contract could very well be.

Savanna Morgan just wanted a way out of an engagement to a man she didn’t love.  Marrying Brodie seemed liked the perfect answer at the time.  Less perfect the next morning when she finds herself disowned by her father and flat broke.  Now she must make it through the weekend. Monday they can get it all annulled and forget it ever happened.

The real problem may be keeping their hands off each other until then.

“On Monday, after our appointment, you’re leaving.”
“I have to go home,” she said quietly, turning away from him to stare into the postage-stamp sized back yard.
“But we have an agreement for the weekend.  I think we should have some ground rules.”
“Good idea.”  Savanna clapped her hands, then rubbed them together as if she were ready to get down to business.  “Like what?”
“We only have two working bedrooms here,” Brodie said.  “Mine and Nan’s.  Do you mind sharing a room with me?”
Her pupils dilated, and he knew she was thinking about the scarlet room they had shared last night.
“My room has two beds,” he continued.  “We can be like Lucy and Ricky.”
She smiled.  “If it was good enough for the Ricardos, I’m sure I can handle it for a few days.”
“We may not so lucky at the Sullivan’s.”
Sobering, she nodded.  “If there’s only one bed there, we can just take turns sleeping in it.”
“Fair enough.” Brodie said.  “Now, as a married couple—especially at the ranch—we’ll be expected to act like a married couple.”
“Okay.  But only around others.  When we’re alone, we can act like we’re not married.”
“Correct.  But sometimes…”  He took a step closer to where she leaned against the porch railing.  “Sometimes married people hold hands.”
He reached out and took her fingers into his own.  Her skin was velvet soft and smelled so sweet, like the mountains after a rain.
“I—I don’t have a problem with that.”
“Sometimes married couples put their arms around each other.”  He placed her hands behind his neck, then slid his arms around her waist.
“That’s okay,” she whispered.  He watched as she swallowed hard.
“And sometimes married people kiss.  Just a peck here and a peck there.  Are you going to have a problem with that?”
“Huh-uh.”  She shook her head.
“Maybe we should practice,” he rasped, bending his head close to hers.
“Maybe,” she repeated before he brushed his lips across hers once, then twice.
His intent had been the small, nearly chaste kiss of old married couple, but once he got close to Savanna, once he could smell her sweetness and taste her heady essence, he couldn’t stop himself.
He pulled her close to him, gathering handfuls of her tank top, securing her to him.  Over and over he slanted his mouth across hers.  Over and over, deeper and deeper, until her whimper brought him back.
He released her, his breath rasping in and out of his lungs in hard painful gasps. 
She grasped the edge of the porch railing, looking as disturbed as he felt.
With demonstrations like that, they may not ever convince Blair and Nan their marriage was an accidental twist of fate, but they would surely convince Red Sullivan their passion was for real.
Brodie ran his fingers through his hair, just one more gesture to keep from reaching for Savanna again.   
“There,” he managed to croak.  “That wasn’t so bad, now was it?”


Judy said...

Brodie's Bride looks like a fantastic read. That cover just jumps out at you. I love the red!!
Thanks for the post and the excerpt.


Amie said...

Thanks, Judy! I love that cover. Couldn't have asked for a better one, Especially since Savanna spends the better part of chapter one wrapped up in a red satin sheet! Thanks for coming by! <3

Sarah Grimm said...

Ah, yes, the dreaded 'what if'. I must admit that my first book came about because of a few what ifs. Surprisingly, not so with the second book. (I know, it shocked me, too)

Great post, as always, Amie!

Nicki Elson said...

I think you're exactly right that writing begins with a big "what if" that we just MUST have answered. I appreciate insight into how your story all comes together. Sounds very intriguing indeed. And I love the title of the book---simple, but strong.

inga said...

Thanks for this wonderful post!

This book sounds like something I would love to read. Plot sounds intriguing and I also liked the excerpt! :)

I also tweeted about it and follow the author now.

inga from

Robin said...

Your book does look like a must read!

Robin D
robindpdx (at) yahoo (dot) com

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