NaNoWriMo is half way to the finish line ~ and as a segue we have author Laurel-Rain Snow here to chat about one of her characters. All in the hope that it may help those who are working on their own.
Laurel is the author of a number of books and is currently working on another via her first try at NaNoWriMo.
Here she tells us about Merrilee, from her women’s fiction book Chasing Stardust. Her main character, like herself, is a product of the 1950 and 60s and is what makes the story an excellent example of a female experience in the era.
Having recently reviewed this book as well as hosted an interview around her writing and self publishing process (linked below), it is a pleasure to have her here again. Lets welcome Laurel!
In Laurel’s Words:
Merrilee Hennessey, our lead character in Chasing Stardust, is like many young adolescent girls as she grows up—rife with fantasies and illusions. But unlike some of her generation, she also bears the burden of budding addictions. Growing up with alcoholic parents, (even though functional), her view of life is already distorted. Throw Elvis and James Dean into the mix, and you have a hopeless romantic, questing for love in all the wrong places.
We first meet Merrilee as she looks back upon her life and as she yearns to provide stability for her granddaughter.
Then the story begins and takes us through the yearning, the rejection, and the ongoing challenge that is her life. She struggles to provide a home as a single parent while building a semblance of a career. She hopes for love, despite every rejection and despite every obstacle along the way. She clings to these “hopelessly romantic” ideals long past their shelf life and despite every failure along the way. And she discovers, finally, that even after she apparently won an earlier battle with eating disorders, an alcohol dependency crops up to challenge her yet again.
In the end, she learns that taking care of herself brings the most satisfaction. And then, almost as a side effect, she discovers love in the most unexpected of places.
When I wrote this book, several things were going on in my life. After twenty-seven years as a social worker, I had retired from the local child welfare agency, and then took on a job with a private foster family agency, where I would then work for an additional three years. My children were all grown, I had bought a home in the foothills, and hoped to settle down into my writing career with relatively little angst. Little did I know what would be around the next bend. My youngest son, his partner, and their newborn preemie baby moved into one of my guest rooms and proceeded to add major drama to my life.
Hence, some of the characters in this book grew out of that experience. I would awaken each day, early, before heading to the office, and write pages for this book. When we see how Merrilee, a single parent, moves into the next phase of her life, with her troubled son, it is no accident that some of my personal stuff found its way into the book. There was more than a slight resemblance between her son Colin and my own youngest son. They both shared a tendency to make impulsive choices, with long term consequences.
My four year old granddaughter would visit, too, during this time; she would lean over my shoulder while I wrote and ask questions about what I was doing. Thus, her sunny personality imbued itself on the character Brandi (Colin and Carly’s child), which is why I dedicated this book to her.
But before any of these events took shape, I had created the story idea based on many of my experiences with impulsive clients, so they also form the core of some of the characters. And then I borrowed liberally from some of my own youthful experiences of listening to Elvis and dreaming about romance. Some of Merrilee’s early jobs also took a page from my own resume.
Many aspects of my own life, the lives of clients, and the day-to-day stuff of my children’s lives make their way into my books. When I mix up the characteristics and embellish the situations, they are transformed into fictionalized versions. Therefore, I have no qualms about calling these creations fiction.
But I never forget that without life’s moments, I would not have the opportunity to create any of my characters.
Once again thank you Laurel!
About Laurel: Laurel Rain Snow is the pen name for Lorraine Frost Sandone, who was born in California's Central Valley. She earned her MA in counseling from California State University of Fresno in the seventies. Ms. Snow, now retired from social work, lives in Fresno, CA, and is the mother of four grown children and proud grandmother of seven.
Since retiring, Ms.Snow turned to an old dream---writing---and has published five novels. The author weaves three decades of experience into her novels, which sets them apart and lends authenticity to the characterizations.
For more information about Chasing Stardust please see Layers of Thought’s review and/or preview for the book. Amazon purchasing links for Chasing Stardust are US/UK/Canada and from the Book Depository.
Thanks for reading!