Sunday, January 27, 2008

How did you two meet? - Paula Quinn

Thank you, Lee, for inviting me.

When people discover that my husband and I were childhood sweethearts, I’m often asked how we met. It’s something you never forget, especially us women. I can give the exact day of the week, the time, place, circumstance, etc. of the event that changed my life. I was fourteen years old and traipsing down the street, walking my dog while covertly eyeing the cute Irish boy lounging on the hood of a parked car, laughing with his friends. When I walked by him, he cleared his throat and asked me what my dog’s name was. I told him. He smiled and asked, “What’s yours?” How’s that for smooth, I ask you? Hey, it’s smooth to a fourteen year old, ok? And the rest, as they say, is history.

Meeting my characters for the first time is a bit like meeting my husband that fateful day-not as heart stopping, but always exciting and unforgettable. Like a chance encounter with the man of one’s dreams, the heroes in my books usually appear when I least expect them, sweeping my muse right off her feet. When I’m getting ready to begin a new book, every face I see is a potential candidate for the lead. I sometimes have dozens of handsome men pacing about in my head, eager to audition for the part. (It’s a tough job, I know, but someone’s got to do it.) But my muse is a fickle diva and most of the time she turns up her nose, sending them all away. I’m visual. I could have the entire story-line plotted out, know exactly what the hero should be like, and what his conflict will be, but it’s the face (and of course, the body) that makes him come to life in my head. Authors are also casting directors, you know.

When I was writing Lord Of Desire, I knew the setting, the other key players, even the hero’s name, but it wasn’t until I was watching a concert on television, not even thinking about the story, when the hero introduced himself to me. He was singing and his voice pulsated with emotion while his fingers picked and strummed a mournful, yet furious sonata on his guitar. The passion was Brand Risande, hungering for something lost, bitter with betrayal. “That’s me,” he whispered. “Let me tell you my story.” He did, and every word, every page grew around him.
Prince Gareth from Lord Of Seduction really kept me waiting. I was beginning to panic when my muse remained indifferent and unresponsive to every applicant who applied for the job. I’d written eight chapters starring a one dimensional hero and the deadline clock was ticking. At that point, I wanted to smack my muse in the head. You see, she’d been spoiled by Lord Dante Risande, my hero in Lord Of Temptation, who came to me without her help. Like my husband, reclining lazily on the hood of that car, Dante appeared before me, curled his lips into a carefree, dazzlingly roguish smirk and took my breath away. Ha! Who needs you anyway, diva? I did, she painfully reminded me as she hurled another five candidates for Prince Gareth into oblivion. And then it happened again. I was sitting with my family, watching American Idol and there he was! Who would have ever thought my hero was a long-haired hippie type from Alabama? Well, it wasn’t really Gareth, but it was the face, the subtle hint of deviance in his sensual expressions, the silky, honey colored mane that danced around his shoulders while he moved. My muse elbowed me in the ribs. There’s your Gareth, she whispered with snooty satisfaction. Now get on with your story. So I chucked those first eight chapters and began again.

With my most recent release, Laird Of The Mist, I’d had the story in my head for years, even before Lord Of Desire was published. I had done most of the research on the MacGregor clan and even attempted to write the story a few times, but something was missing. Callum. This story had a life of its own, with a hero who had to be born for the role. I didn’t try to find him. Somehow I knew he’d find me. I once heard that a story chooses the storyteller, not the other way around. I think this is true with characters, as well. So I waited patiently, writing other stories in the meantime. The meeting was quite unexpected. I was waiting to cross one of Manhattan’s busy streets and was nearly run over by a bus. As I leaped back, heart jarred from its place, fist curled at the bus driver, an enormous face stared back at me. It was one of those huge advertisements they paste on the side on the bus for pedestrians to see from a safe distance away. This one was introducing a new actor on the American scene, soon to be starring in his first major role as Attila. His name was Gerard Butler, or as I soon began to call him, Callum MacGregor. He was perfect! My gosh, he was even Scottish! His character was so strong, so real for me that he began to take over all my hero’s faces. But he was born to be Callum and nearly killed me to let me know it.

So what if it’s eccentric. I’m a writer and I can be a little overly imaginative if I want to be. As a reader, so can you, and you certainly don’t have to envision the same face the author chose. Have you ever read a book where you imagined the hero to be a certain someone? A man you felt was born to play the role? Tell me about it. Or tell me about how you met your partner. I’ll be choosing one winner from the comments to receive a signed copy of Laird Of The Mist.

Think hard, and watch your step while crossing the street.


Nathalie said...

You wrote the smae post on RR@H... it is nice to see how people met, as I am still single, I have nothing to say :) however I am a romantic at heart and love to hear how others have met their significant other :)

robynl said...

- managed an apartment complex
- had a tenant from a small town move in
- her friend from said town came by on Dec. 23th, 1988 en route to the city for Christmas
- I was at tenant's having coffee and met friend
- nothing spectacular and then he came back on Jan. 7th, 1989 and asked me out for supper.
- at first I said 'no' and then felt sorry for him and changed my mind(if he could wait 2 hrs. whilst I washed and curled my hair).
- we went out and the rest is history.

Paula Quinn said...

Nathalie, forgive me for mirroring the post. I've been working on the outline and first three chapters of my next book with GCP, trying to get it in by the end of this week and my mind is on overload with the new characters/plotline. Besides, I really liked this post and am glad you did too ;)

Paula Quinn said...

Hi Robyn,
Loved your story. He was probably thinking about you the entire time he was away. Very romantic!

Virginia said...

I met my DH where we worked at the time. I applied for a different job and went to the shift he was on. I was dating someone else at the time, but DH presued me. He would not leave me alone. I will have to say he never gave up until he had me. We have been married for 23 years now and have one son.

anne said...

I was ambivalent about attending a mixer event at university, but I decided to go. There was a good, friendly bunch of people who circulated and it was fun. I was standing alone for a few minutes when this young man walked up to me and just started chatting. We clicked and realized that we had a great deal in common and decided to go for a walk. That was the beginning of a very close and easygoing relationship which developed into a long and eventful marriage. 38 years May 2008.

annie said...

During a drama audition I had my eye on a boy whom I had never before met. He intrigued me and I knew that he would be the one and only for me. We were very young and couldn't really go out but I could see him at school daily. Eventually we both graduated and became very closeknit. We attended the same univeisty in town and after graduation became engaged. We will be married this Spring.

Eva S said...

My sister one day came to me and said: There is this guy I know who has been interested in you for a long time, will you meet him? We met, had a most a wonderful weekend together just talking and have now been married for 30 years...

deseng said...

Yes I do imagine certain guys as the hero in stories. The guys are usually dark haired, rugged, tall, classically handsome, with dreamy bedroom eyes. I am a sucker for romance!

My hubby and I met through an ad in the paper. Seriously! We were both in our first of year college. He advertised for a tutor and I anwered the ad thinking it was going to be someone in high school. When his dad answered the phone and told me that his son was at college, I thought to myself, "Oh great!"

Well, I gave my phone number anyway. Al called me and we set up an interview date. He met with me and everything. Well, 4 days later he called me up. He said I didn't get the job but would I like to go out with him dancing sometime? I was 18 at the time and still living with my parents. Al will never forget what I said next, I said, "wait a minute", in the background Al heard me asking my mom if it was all right to go out on a date with him. My mom said, "I don't care! That is up to you." Well, I said yes! The rest is history!

Michele L.

Stacy S said...

When I met my husband, I thought he was cute. But then I found out he just got out of school & age. Said no for 6 months. Finally said yes and have been together for over 12 years. I'm 3 years older than he is and felt a little funny dating a younger person.

Pat Cochran said...


How amusing! Another blog just
asked the same question, so I'll be telling our story for a second time in 2 weeks. Honey and I attended a
graduation gathering in honor of a
mutual friend. Everyone mixed and mingled, enjoyed the dancing, then
decided to sit and rest during a
break in the music. Everyone found
a seat except for one young man. I
invited him to share my chair, he agreed to do so,and we introduced
ourselves. We talked through the
evening, danced together, and then
went our separate ways. One of
his friends indicated that he would
like to date me. Honey told him to
forget that idea because he (Honey)
was going to marry me! Despite
having to cross societal barriers,
(this was Texas in 1959 and I'm
Hispanic) we dated for two years and married in 1961. On April 8th
of this year we will celebrate our
47th anniversary!

Pat Cochran

petite said...

I love hearing about how people meet and how love endures.
We met many years ago when COMPUDATE existed, before the present computers. I had filled out a form with the general questions about your likes, and preferences etc. and then sent it in. I received a list of five names, which had the addresses and phone numbers as well. What a different day and age that was. I received a call and then decided why not? The day arrived and I met this man my age who took me out for an informal coffee type date. I was captivated with him and decided that no one else would ever interest me as he did. we continued to see each other and got married 2 years later. It has been many interesting years which continue to amaze me.