Saturday, April 18, 2015

Kathleen O'Brien: The Road Not Taken

Everyone always asks where I get my ideas, and often I don’t have an answer.  I’ve written about 45 books, and I long ago ran out of material even remotely autobiographical. :)  Now it’s up to the muse, the newspaper, the desperate searchings of my brain…

But the release of my Tule Publishing novella, HIS DEFIANT PRINCESS (watch for it next Thursday!) is the exception.  In this story, a nineteen-year-old American student takes a summer vacation in Cornetta, a beautiful little principality in the Bay of Biscay, off the coast of France. On the ferry, she meets a cute boy, and they spend three magical months together roaming the wild fringes of the island.  Nine years later, when she returns to Cornetta, she discovers her summer lover was really the second son of the royal family, a rascal known as the rogue prince.

This marvelous fairy tale never happened to me, of course.  That’s the point.  There was one summer in particular that it didn’t happen—and that’s what gave me the idea.

I was maybe eighteen or so. I had, or believed I had, a broken heart.

(To be honest, getting our hearts broken was a routine summer game for my friends and me back then, but this year must have been a doozie.)

To help me recover, my mother decided to send my sister and me to Jamaica for a few days.  If you’re a historical romance reader, you probably recognize this as a scaled-down version of the “Grand Tour.”  Surely a change of scenery would put things into perspective.  A new adventure, a glimpse of all the wonders and fun that did not require my current Mr. Wrong…surely that would fix me up.

So off we headed.  My sister is two years older, and back then she was at least twenty years more daring.  First thing, we went to a rental car place to choose our wheels.  At the counter, doing the same, were two incredibly good-looking American boys. 

When they started chatting us up, my sister was definitely receptive.  We talked a while, and then the guys suggested maybe we’d like to share a car and do some sightseeing together. 

My sister looked at me, asking the question silently, in that way brave older sisters can do.  And I said nononono, please don’t say yes, in that way fearful younger sisters can do.

She was good-natured about it, but I could tell she was disappointed. Waving goodbye, we went off to our separate adventures.  My sister and I swam, toured a witch house, read books on the beach, ate good food and played gin rummy in a luxurious hotel room.  Then we flew home, and I found a new boyfriend.

But you know what?  I never quite forgot about the chance I was too nervous to take.  I still remember the cute brown eyes, sweet smile, and tumbling curls of one of those young men…and I sometimes wonder “what if?”

And so…THE DEFIANT PRINCESS.  Because hey.  Isn’t answering the eternal “what if” question exactly what novels are supposed to do?

How about you?  Have you ever passed up a chance to do something daring…and then always wondered what you might have missed?


dstoutholcomb said...

but, then I wouldn't be where I am now. So, no regrets.

Kathleen O'Brien said...

So true, Denise! I feel the same way. :)

Diana Tidlund said...

That's why I lived by the motto life's too short to not take chances. Met and married first man I slept with and had two kids by him. Was abusive and I filed for
Divorce and restraining order met 2nd hubby during divorce and became friends and started dating 23 year in September we are still together this second man I slept with. And I would do the first loser again so I'd have my kids and still end up with him where we are now. Everyone thought was a rebound but all this time later that's some rebound. Lol. We ride Harley's cause life's too short and in December I had 4 big strokes and lots of little ones and he's been by my side the whole time. So the chance I was still willing to take after ex was all worth it. You just have to be willing to take it.

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Diana, I know exactly what you mean about the children being the gift that makes everything worthwhile! :) How wonderful that your love story, though it had its bumpy patches, found its happily ever after!

Eileen A-W said...

I really haven't. Maybe I'm just a scaredy cat, but I just can't imagine my life any different than the way it has turned out.

Janine said...

I can't really say I have done anything very daring.

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Eileen, apparently we're alike in that way. My mother, who was definitely not a scaredy cat, always used to complain that I was being a "Nervous Nellie." LOL. But I could so easily imagine the worst...which, I guess, is part of being a writer! :)

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Janine, we all must belong to the same Careful Club. ) But at least we're around to talk about it, right?

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Diana, you're the randomly chosen winner of the surprise $10 Amazon gift certificate giveaway! If you'll email me at with the email address you'd like me to use, I'll get that off to you asap! Thanks so much for sharing your great story! :)