My Other So-Called Life

first published @thefrontpageonline.com

I guess you could say I’m a schizophrenic writer. On the one hand I’m routinely incensed by events of the day. On the other, I always appreciate a happy ending. I’ve been reading romance novels since I was a pre-teen. I discovered my first, the Taming of Tamsin, at my grandmother’s house. It grabbed me from the first. Of course it was filled with the clichéd older, coldhearted hero, a doormat of a heroine, and a few bruising, punishing kisses. Thank goodness in the last few decades feminism finally trickled down into romance novels. I even wrote about said evolution in my senior paper in college. The rest of my writing life has been spent sounding off at one injustice or another. So it’s a surprise to many that in addition to writing gritty depressing novels (which remain unpublished), I also write angsty but fun romance novels. There it is – now you know about my not-so-secret life.

The one question I get the most often is: How do you come up with ideas? Despite sitting on my butt most of the day, there’s no shortage of weird things that happen to me. Below is one such story:

I quit practicing law about a million times. I hated law school. The daily grind of libraries, research and sad clients was no better. My last job was as a corporate real estate lawyer – about ten miles from my house. In any reasonable part of the world, my commute would have been fifteen minutes. In Los Angeles – well – let’s just say I finished an audio book a week during my daily drives.

In the Beginning 

On a sunny, warm day no different from any other, I was on my way to work and the usually hectic traffic was worse than usual – though it is often impossible to tell bad from hellish. On this day I was stuck on the entrance ramp for about fifteen minutes – when five was the norm. The only other time that had happened to me, a county coroner’s van zoomed by on the shoulder, and I knew something really bad had happened. But on this day – nothing – no LAPD, no CHiPs, no coroner. When I finally inched my way onto the freeway – everything was at a standstill. I couldn’t see an accident, nor were the usual group of news helicopters making their lazy, noisy circles over the cars.

Instead, I noticed that people were opening their doors and getting out of their cars. I’d seen a lot of things happen on the freeway during my time in California – including one fistfight – but I’d never seen that many people open their car doors. The bubble inside an Angeleno’s car is sacrosanct, rarely breached for any reason.

Then I saw it. A small reddish dog was running down the dotted lines of the freeway. We Angelenos may hate many things associated with driving, but dogs are not among them. It was both horrifying and fascinating. Would the dog be saved? What would happen? Rarely do such intense dramas play out in real life. I wish I could tell you that the dog had a happy ending. It escaped from everyone who tried to save it. I think a friend who had a later commute on the same stretch of the 101 told me the animal had been saved. I don’t remember that part of the story.

In the Real Beginning

What I remember is running into work, turning on my computer, and starting Puppy Love. The characters had been taking up space in my head since they had appeared in another book I had written, In the Nick of Time. For the life of me, I could not ever see them meeting because they were from such different worlds. Then this happened, and a chance meeting between the hero, Ryan Becker, and the heroine, Sophie Reid was born.