BEHIND THE SCENES
This is the third book in the Wild Ride to Love series (book 1 is Sex Drive; book 2 is Love, Unexpectedly), so I already knew my heroine, Jenna Fallon, pretty well. I also knew that her part of the "planes, trains, automobiles, and a cruise ship" series would involve a road trip from Santa Cruz to Vancouver, to meet up with the rest of her family for her baby sister's wedding.
I knew that her family viewed her as a modern-day hippie. When they were being kind, they called her free-spirited. When they were being less kind, they called her a flake. She didn't believe in commitment and had no desire to stick to one job or one man.
But where did that attitude come from? Often, if people avoid commitment, it's because they've been hurt and have trust issues. I knew that was the case with Jenna, and that, as the age of 30 approached, it was time for her to deal with, if you'll pardon the expression, all that shit she'd been lugging around for her entire adult life.
So I gave her a sexy science guy – globe-trotting marine biologist Mark Chambers. A guy who's as serious and committed as she is light-hearted and free.
Mark, like most men, is bewitched and bedazzled by Jenna, and totally open to a fun, sexy road trip as he gives her a ride back to Vancouver. And of course she helps him lighten up and see that stopping occasionally to smell the roses (or have sex on the beach!) isn't such a bad thing.
But of course, for me as a writer, I need more meat to my stories. So I knew that Mark, like Jenna, needed to have some issues and his own hidden vulnerability.
I found it fascinating, figuring out Mark's back story. He was raised on a commune by a hippie mom who paid way more attention to her many lovers than to her son – so he's not at all impressed by Jenna's frivolous nature. When his mom died, he went to live with her parents, who imposed discipline and instilled a strong work ethic in him – the ethic that's made him an "all work, no play" guy. They gave him structure and support, and their own kind of love, but they weren't demonstrative, affectionate people. Jenna is, which is very appealing to him. So, basically, because of his background and the man he's become, he finds Jenna baffling, frustrating, and irresistible.
She pretty much finds him the same, especially as he isn't satisfied with treating her simply as a sexy short-term playmate, the way other men have. He delves deeper, wants more, makes her face things about herself that she'd never wanted to deal with. And at the same time, he learns things about himself and starts to wonder if, for the first time in his life, he might find the love he has always yearned for. But how could that happen with a woman who sees herself as a butterfly who flits from place to place, job to job, man to man?
Are you getting a picture of their road trip? I wanted to give them fun, sexy interludes, but being on the road for hours with someone, sitting side by side, does tend to lead to some pretty in-depth conversations – the kind neither of them has ever had before. And then there's the fact that when they kiss, something utterly magical and soul-stunning happens…
Bottom line: I like "journey" stories where people are traveling physically and at the same time taking a personal, emotional journey. In Jenna's and Mark's cases, I knew they each needed to take their personal journeys, but that would only happen once their paths crossed and they began to travel together.
Some authors would have figured all the details ahead of time, laid out a map of the trip and the book, then started writing. I'm much more scattered – or, to be polite, let's say organic – about it. I knew a little bit before I started, but much more of it came to me as the story took shape under my fingers on the keyboard. In other words, I went on the journey right along with Jenna and Mark, enjoying the many surprises and insights along the road.
I hope my readers will enjoy the journey too!
Want to travel right along with Jenna and Mark?
"Visit" some of the same places they did: