Many thanks to Open Skye for inviting me to stop by today as part of the Mystic Man blog tour! Mystic Man is a contemporary novella set in Connecticut, part of Dreamspinner’s States of Love collection. To celebrate the release, at the end of the tour I’ll be giving away a $20 Amazon gift card and an ebook copy of Clickbait (another of my contemporary romantic comedies) to one lucky commenter.
As part of my writing process, I always try to find a picture of an actor or some other public figure who fits my general mental image of my main characters. I do this because I am so not a visual person—and because description is the hardest thing for me to write. Dialogue? Heh. No problem. My characters can natter on to each other until the cows come home. My first drafts tend to look more like screenplays than novels with all of the verbal sniping.
But then I have to get down to work and describe things—their home, their clothing, their hair and eyes and skin and…stuff. It’s much easier for me to jump-start my writer’s brain if I’ve got a picture to look at than if I try to close my eyes and imagine things. (When I close my eyes, I hear words—I don’t necessarily see images, which is something that I used to argue endlessly about with one of my friends who’s an artist. But I’m an auditory learner. He’s visual. Our brains are wired differently.)
So since I can’t see my character’s hair and eyes and skin and…stuff in my head, I collect visual aids in the form of online photos. I cast them, as if I were casting a play or movie.
When I was “casting” Mystic Man, my mental image for Aaron, my historian/librarian, was Anthony Head as Giles in Buffy. What can I say? It was the glasses—and the fact that Giles’s natural habitat was the library as he delved into the historical archives to help Buffy fight the good fight—that made that one a no-brainer.
I’m not sure exactly why I zeroed in on ice dancer Charlie White as my image for Cody. I know that Charlie’s last name was why I decided to use another colorful name—Brown—for Cody’s surname.
I’ve always been fascinated by Charlie White as an ice dancer. I mean, back in his competitive World/Olympic champion days with Meryl Davis, he didn’t look like someone who could be into such an intricate and mannered and regulated sport. With that fabulous mop of blond hair and that grin? Let’s face it. He was Surfer Dude on Ice.
That’s one of the things I loved about him—the juxtaposition, the contradiction, the playing against type. This video is from 2014 when Charlie and Meryl won their Olympic gold medal. In the first piece (my favorite), their original dance to a My Fair Lady medley, Charlie’s whole attitude and demeanor is exactly Cody’s enthusiasm and joy.
I told Brooke Albrecht, my cover designer, that Cody looked like Charlie—especially the hair—and she found the perfect cover model!
A States of Love Novella
When a series of personal crises prompt risk-averse research librarian Aaron Templeton to apply for a job on the other side of the country, nobody is more surprised than he is. He nearly runs home before the final interview except for one little problem: he has no home anymore. He put his condo on the market before he left California and it’s already sold. Only an encounter with free-spirited Connecticut native Cody Brown at the Mystic Seaport Museum staves off Aaron’s incipient panic attack.
Cody loves nothing better than introducing newcomers to the great features of his beloved home state, and when the newbie in question is a rumpled professorial type with the saddest blue eyes on the planet? Score! The attraction between the two men deepens as they explore Cody’s favorite spots, but when difficulties arise and Aaron’s insecurities threaten to overwhelm him, will Cody’s love be enough to keep him in Mystic?
E.J. Russell–grace, mother of three, recovering actor–writes romance in a rainbow of flavors. Count on high snark, low angst and happy endings.
Reality? Eh, not so much.
She’s married to Curmudgeonly Husband, a man who cares even less about sports than she does. Luckily, C.H. also loves to cook, or all three of their children (Lovely Daughter and Darling Sons A and B) would have survived on nothing but Cheerios, beef jerky, and Satsuma mandarins (the extent of E.J.’s culinary skill set).
E.J. lives in rural Oregon, enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/ej_russell
Bookbub author page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/e-j-russell