Saturday, October 04, 2014

CJ Carmichael: Little Women & The Carrigan Girls

As a writer, I find inspiration for my stories and my characters in everything around me. The people I know, the books I read, the movies I watch. Sometimes I don’t even realize what has inspired me, until after the fact.

This is the case with my most recent series “The Carrigans of Circle C.” I started these books with the central idea that I would write about a rancher who wanted a son but ended up with four daughters. It wasn’t until I was halfway through the series, that I figured out the four Carrigan sisters I “created” were remarkably similar to the four March sisters in Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, Little Women.

Now this similarity came about completely from my subconscious—probably influenced by my having read the story, watched the movie, and listened to an audio version of Little Women dozens of times.

Mattie Carrigan (heroine of GoodTogether) is my “Meg.” She is the oldest, and is responsible and motherly. My Mattie is not as vain or fond of pretty things as Meg March, but she is the sister the others go to when they want motherly advice. She is also the first to marry, first to have children, and like Meg, her children are twins.

Callan Carrigan (heroine of A Cowgirl’s Christmas) is my “Amy.” She too is the baby of the family and while she isn’t artsy or ultra-feminine like Amy, she is strong-willed and stubborn. When she sets her mind on something, she is unstoppable. Remember how Amy is the sister who ends up with the charming Laurie from next door? Well, my Callan has an equally wonderful hero in store for her, as well. She just takes a long time to admit it.

Sage Carrigan (heroine of PromiseMe, Cowboy) is my “Beth.” Of all the sisters she is the kindest and most soft-hearted. It’s no coincidence that I made her the owner of a chocolate shop—her delicious confections reflect her own inner sweetness.

As for Dani Carrigan (Heroine of Close To Her Heart) she is my Jo. Dani tries so hard to be independent and strong, to be ruled by her head rather than her heart. Her weakness is for the underdog—she can’t resist looking after them. Just as Jo was motivated to start a school for needy boys in Little Women, so is Dani driven to make the choices she does in Close To Her Heart.

* * *

Have you read Little Women? Which of the characters was your favorite? Did you have a least favorite? If you’ve read any of the Carrigan books, I’d love to know if you see the same similarities to the March sisters as I do!

Warmest Wishes,
C. J. Carmichael


Melissa McClone said...

That's amazing, CJ! Funny how our creativity works!!!!

dstoutholcomb said...

Jo. She took chances.

CJ Carmichael said...

I know, it was almost kind of spooky. Made me realize how easy it is to appropriate other authors ideas...which is okay, I guess, as long as the words are your own.

CJ Carmichael said...

Yes, I love Jo so much!

Kathleen said...

CJ, I love that this came to you after the fact! It shows, doesn't it, how deep in our psyches these classics are buried? And they're classics because they really do capture the archetypes so well.

CJ Carmichael said...

Kathleen, yes! I went about a year listening to Little Women on audiobook when I couldn't sleep. I listened over and over and over--which taught me that a classic book, can bear that kind of repetition where you listen, not to find out what happens next, but to enjoy and savor each scene.

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