The Story Behind What I Wasn’t Looking For
29 Aug 2017
By Olivia Hardin
If you’re a writer or if you know one, you’ve probably seen t-shirts that say things like:
Don’t annoy the author. She can put you in a book and kill you.
Careful or you’ll end up in my novel.
Never wrong a writer. They get their revenge in print.
And maybe some of you even have one of these shirts. I don’t, but I think under the circumstances I’m going to need to add this to my “Wish List” … and I do have a birthday coming so <hint, hint>.
Over the years, I admit that I’ve put little characteristics of people I know into many of the books I’ve written. A gesture here, a personality quirk there. In my first series, Bend-Bite-Shift, Rooney came to life when I reconnected with one of my best friends in high school. Still, until What I Wasn’t Looking For, I hadn’t ever written a real-life “villain” into a book.
But the truth is, this has been a rough year for the hubby and me, so it isn’t any surprise that I needed a little catharsis with my writing. Conflicts in our neighborhood found us involved in two lawsuits. I provided evidence for one case, and my husband was sued in the second. Our friends became our enemies, and that’s been a very tough pill to swallow.
One day, while trying to write, I was mentally stewing over all the drama we were dealing with in real life and this popped into my head:
“He doesn’t sell ice to an Eskimo. He convinces the Eskimo to steal the ice from someone else, then takes it for himself. And all the while the poor Eskimo believes he’s a great upstanding guy.”
And so, from there, the character of Till Beamus was born. At first, I was ecstatic at the idea of writing my real-life villain. I wondered what sorts of torture I could put him through, how I could eventually kill him off. But then I remembered this isn’t a paranormal romance, so none of those ideas quite fit … I decided the characters in the Love & Found Series were going to need to find a way to deal with their bad guy. And more importantly, they’d have to learn to deal with the aftereffects: As Mary says in What I Wasn’t Looking For:
“You never really know people. You might think you do, but they can turn on you. Or maybe, they were never what you thought they were. I thought I was a good judge, but… sometimes you just get it wrong.”
If you read What I Wasn’t Looking For, you’ll get an introduction to the impact Till Beamus has on Mary and her family. That story-arc continues into the next book in the series as well, because… well, honestly because the drama in my life with the “real” Till Beamus isn’t over yet, either. I still have lots more to work out in my head and my heart.
So, for Till Beamus, death just isn’t an option, either on the pages of this series or in real life. I’m still struggling to get over the things that happened this past year, but I am getting through it. And one good thing: at least I’m lucky enough to be a writer so that I can do some of that in the relative safety of the pages I write.
– Olivia Hardin
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