By Starla Kaye
I was fortunate enough to attend the RT Booklovers Convention in Kansas City last week and I learned so much. There were some wonderful workshops and fun reader events. Among my favorite workshops were Regency Gaming Hells where we learned the history of the gaming hells and where we had a chance to play one of the games, a simplified version of Hazard, a dice game on the order of Craps.
A reader event that I had wanted to attend but didn’t was Hunks, Haggis and the Highlands. I later heard that was a really fun event and they had to turn people away because the room was too small. Attendees had the opportunity to taste haggis, which is a pudding containing sheep’s heart, liver and lungs. Sound tempting? Well…. They also had a chance to learn what’s under a man’s kilt. Now that might have been more enjoyable.
Another favorite workshop that I did attend was Broken Wings: Writing Damaged Characters. Amy Lane, Z.A. Maxfield, Belinda McBride, and Kate Pearce presented a very well done workshop about writing damaged characters. They talked about why both readers and authors love tortured heroes and damaged heroines. And the audience shared some of their favorite such characters from a number of books. It was clear that Laura Kinsale is one of the queens of writing damaged heroes and her book The Prince of Midnight was a good example of her writing.
Essentially there are many ways to add depth to a character, including giving him/her serious trauma that they live with and have to confront before they find their HEA or HFN. Characters are damaged by past experiences. Maybe they suffered a painful childhood, trauma on the battlefield, or tragic romantic relationships. Emotional scars, living with deep dark secrets and a complex backstory make for difficult to write characters. But the resulting story touches the reader’s heart, as well as the author’s. Such stories are long remembered.
The story I am currently working on for 1 Night Stand, Cowboy Dreamin’, isn’t as dark and complex as what I’ve described here. But my cowboys are both dealing with emotional scars and in need of someone to tenderly love them both.