No, I’m not talking about booze. Though I have touched on that topic in my books, dealing with an alcoholic (hello Fable and Owen Maguire’s mother from the ONE WEEK GIRLFRIEND series. Notice how I never give her a first name? I did that on purpose. She doesn’t deserve one).
That’s something I’m drawn to as a writer—secret shame. We all have them in varying degrees. Some are too overwhelming to face, and some could be considered minor, but they all mean something to us. They leave us feeling embarrassed, shameful.
These feelings bring us together as humans. We all experience various levels of shame and horror. We’ve all had something bad happen to us or we know someone who’s experienced *insert horrific thing*. We can relate.
And that’s what I’m going for when I write about the hard, ugly things in my books. I don’t want to bring the reader down and fill them with despair but I do want to make them feel. I want to touch their emotions and make them laugh and cry and get angry or sigh with happiness. I want it all because I guess I’m greedy like that.
I truly feel the way to do get readers to feel so much is to force them to face the hard stuff but then give them—and the characters they’re reading about—a glimmer of hope. This world is ugly enough when you deal with the day-to-day reality of it. Who needs to read books that are nothing but major downers? Not me. We read to escape.
But we also read to learn things. To feel things. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if what we’re reading is all glossed over happy stuff that rarely delves deep…that can get boring. Don’t get me wrong, I love a fun, feel-good story (and I’ve written more than my share) but I also like the gritty subject matter that makes me think. That even makes me feel uncomfortable.
While writing ONE WEEK GIRLFRIEND, I worried over what I was doing to my characters, especially Drew. Yes, I’m personally responsible for putting him through so much because after all, I’m the one who created him and Adele and his clueless father and his sister and Fable and Owen and their horrible mother. There were points as I was writing where I would pause and think, Should I go there? Should I do that? Oh man, should I do THAT?!
When your writing is rooted in romance (as mine is), yes you must create conflict for your characters and you must put them through some hard times before they get to their happily ever after. But never before have I put a cast of characters through so much grief. Ever. I felt bad. I considered easing up on Drew specifically. But then…
I decided screw it. I’m going for it.
Sometimes we have to face the ugly truths early on to get to the good stuff. Sometimes we have to struggle and fight and suffer before we can conquer. I’m talking both in real life and in fiction. Hopefully the struggle makes the end result that much sweeter.
Hopefully reading about the hard stuff makes reaching the end and the happily ever after worth so much more. That’s all I want to do as a writer. Make that HEA worth it.
Because every last one of us deserve one.
FOUR YEARS LATER is the final book in the ONE WEEK GIRLFRIEND series and is available now:
New Adult bestselling author Monica Murphy winds up her sensational series with this sexy story of two college kids with nothing in common but a bunch of baggage and a burning attraction.
Over. That about sums up everything in my life. Suspended from my college football team and forced to cut back my hours at The District bar because of my crappy grades, I can’t keep turning to my sister, Fable, and her pro-football playing husband, Drew, to bail me out. I just can’t seem to find my own way. Weed and sex are irresistible temptations—and it’s messed up that I secretly hand over money to our junkie mom. A tutor is the last thing I want right now—until I get a look at her.
Chelsea is not my type at all. She’s smart and totally shy. I’m pretty sure she’s even a virgin. But when she gives me the once over with those piercing blue eyes, I’m really over. But in a different way. I won’t deny her ass is killer, but it’s her brain and the way she seems to crave love—like no one’s ever given her any—that make me want her more than any girl I’ve ever met. But what would someone as seemingly together as her ever see in a screwed up guy like me?