02 November 2015

Guest Post: Hilary Grossman on Letting Characters Take the Lead

Plan Bea by Hilary GrossmanOne thing I really love about the Internet and social media is the people you meet, virtually or in real life. And it always strikes me funny how we can cross paths with a person in a single sector only to learn that you and she have multiple connections.

So it was with author Hilary Grossman, whom I met through the weekly photography meme Wordless Wednesday. For the longest time, I thought of Hilary as one of photography buddies. But a couple of years ago, I discovered that she's also an author. So naturally, we bonded over books and reading too.

This fall Hilary published her second novel, Plan Bea, and to help her celebrate the book's release, I've asked her to stop by to give us a little insight into what it's like to write a novel. I was curious about which scene in Plan Bea, was her favorite one to write, and I'm happy Hilary agreed to tell us. Before I get to that, though, here's the book summary from GoodReads:

Annabel O’Conner has the perfect husband, two adorable children, an amazing job, and the mother from hell! Annabel doesn’t like it but has come to terms with the fact that her relationship with her mother, Bea, deteriorated to the point of forced and strained communications. However, an unscheduled call from Bea turns her world around and makes Annabel question everything she believed about her life.

Despite the fact secrets, lies, and misplaced blame have destroyed the women’s relationship; Annabel reluctantly agrees to help Bea plan her wedding. Little does Annabel know the impact of her decision.

In this Women’s Contemporary Fiction novel, Hilary Grossman explores the complex relationship that exists between mothers and daughters in a light-hearted and relatable manner.
I like books that explore the mother-daughter relationship, and I bet you do too.

Now let's hear from Hilary herself:

When Your Character Writes Her Own Story
By Hilary Grossman

How many times have you heard an author say their characters surprised them?

Over the years, I have heard the line so often. I hate to admit it, but each time I did I couldn't help but roll my eyes. After all, how could characters surprise their creator?

And then it happened to me . . .

When I started writing Plan Bea, a women's fiction novel about a mother and daughter whose relationship has been destroyed by secrets, lies, and misplaced blame, I felt like I had a very good handle on the story. I was aware of all the conflict points. I had the twist ending nailed. And I felt like I knew my main character, Annabel, and her mother, Bea, intimately.

Bea is a very stubborn, cold, and headstrong woman. Annabel has spent years trying to gain her mother's love and affection. However, now that Bea seems to be coming around (ever so slightly), Annabel isn't letting her off the hook easily. More times than not, the ladies end up in a heated discussion.

One such argument took place in a diner. As their omelets turned cold, the women hashed it out but good. Annabel suddenly had so much to say. Her "voice" was screaming in my ear. My fingers struggled to keep up with her. I have never typed so fast in my life. And when Annabel finally said her piece and got out a secret that she kept to herself for years, I gasped. I pushed my laptop to the side and sighed. I cried a little too.

After I dried my tears, I muttered to myself, or to Annabel, "I didn't know that happened." Then I asked, "Why didn't you tell me about this before?" But my question wasn't answered. Annabel was once again silent. She was once again a figment of my imagination. Unfortunately, just quickly and unexpectedly as she "came to life" she was gone . . .

By far, that scene is one of my favorites in the entire book. It was the easiest and the most fun one for me to write because I didn't have to do anything but type. The words that were spoken weren't mine. My characters took over, they took the lead. And even though I was writing the book, I managed to get lost in the story. And isn't that the whole purpose of a book—to offer us an escape and transport us from our lives into someone else's?
Thanks, Hilary. I always wondered if a character could indeed take control from the author. Now I know it happens, and when it does, it's an amazing and fun phenomenon. Thanks too for dropping by today and giving me a hint of what it's like when the creativity is running high.

Learn More: If you want to know more about author Hilary Grossman, be sure to visit her website, Feeling Beachie (and don't forget to look at the photos; her cat Lucy is adorable). If you're on GoodReads (and even if you're not), you can enter a giveaway for a signed copy of Plan Bea.


(Diane) bookchickdi 11/2/15, 7:49 AM  

I've often wondered about how characters takes over a scene, this is such an enlightening pots. Thanks to you both.

Daryl 11/2/15, 8:12 AM  

awesome insight .. thanks!

bermudaonion 11/2/15, 8:18 AM  

Yep, I hear authors say that all the time! Fun post!

Hilary 11/3/15, 6:17 AM  

Thank you so much for "having me over" and letting me share a little bit about Annabel & Bea's story!

Margot 11/8/15, 12:19 AM  

I loved reading Hilary Grossman's piece about her characters. That was so amazing that now I really want to read about Bea and Anabel. I'm glad you shared this post.

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