Today I’m thrilled to welcome Christine Bell, author of Guardian for Hire, a For Hire novel. Check out my review here. She’s here to talk about what makes us fall in love with fictional characters–welcome, Christine!
Thanks for having me today to celebrate the release of Guardian for Hire!
Today, I thought I could talk a little about what makes us fall in love with a fictional character. It sounds crazy, but it happens. You know the feeling, when you wish that hot, special ops hero could climb right off the page and move in with you, or that funny sidekick friend was real so you could have drinks and do karaoke together.
Books are funny like that, because regardless of genre, it’s the characters that matter most. If I fall in love with the characters, nothing else matters. I’ll follow them down a mine shaft, or to another planet or to Regency era London, or to a dystopian future. Because I’m invested. I care about them and their story. I think the best authors make us do that through voice. I’m a sucker for humor, but if I really think on it, that’s just a small piece of it. More important? Things that make them relatable. Do they have a little stutter when they get stressed out? Will they only eat if none of their food touches on the plate? Do they have a weird ritual they do before they leave for school every morning, like jumping off the front step and hitting the wind chimes with their fingertips? People are weird. We do weird stuff all the time. If characters aren’t a little weird too, readers can’t relate.
Another thing I think that makes me love a character is if they are vulnerable and flawed in some way. If not, it’s hard to connect. Readers want to see themselves on the page, and know that their hero or heroine has been through strife, is a wide open nerve for the author to poke and prod. Sounds sadistic, right? But without it, who cares. I mean, that’s the investment, right? Without falling into a crevice due to hiking-hubris, there IS no sawing off of the proverbial arm. And without the sawing off of the proverbial arm, where is the “HELL YEAH!” The fist pump along with that good, juicy feeling payoff of seeing someone climb out of that hole, overcoming the odds? Where’s our Rocky or our Big Mike from the Blind Side? In order to celebrate the victory, we have to witness the suffering too, and that requires our protagonist to be vulnerable.
I’m weird. And I’m vulnerable. And I’m flawed. So, like, whenever I draw a picture or doodle of something like a snowman, I always draw two so that when I close the notebook, there’s not just the one left there all lonely. Frigging weird, right? And my kryptonite would be maggots. Show me maggots and I will tell you ANYTHING you want to know. As for flaws, I have a ton. I think my least favorite one is that I love to argue. Seriously, even if I don’t believe what I’m arguing about, I STILL have the intense urge to debate about it. It’s not cute, but it’s me.
So what about you, blog readers? What makes you weird? Flawed? Vulnerable? (Asking that last one for a friend. Not going to use this information to take over the human race one by one and use your planet as a breeding ground my race of super-aliens *shity eyes*).
About Christine Bell
Christine Bell is a USA Bestselling Author of contemporary romance novels and one half of the happiest couple in the world. She and her handsome hubby currently reside in Pennsylvania with a four-pack of teenage boys and their two dogs, Gimli and Pug. If she gets time off from her duties as maid, chef, chauffeur, or therapist, she can be found reading just about anything she can get her hands on, from Young Adult novels to books on poker theory. She doesn’t like root beer, clowns or bugs (except ladybugs, on account of their cute outfits), but lurrves chocolate, going to the movies, the New York Giants and playing Texas Hold ‘Em. Writing is her passion, but if she had to pick another occupation, she would be a pirate…or, like, a ninja maybe. She loves writing fun, sexy romances, but also hopes to one day publish something her dad can read without wanting to dig his eyes out with rusty spoons. Christine loves to hear from readers, so please feel free to get in touch with her via the Contact Page, or find her on Twitter @_ChristineBell.
Title: Guardian for Hire
Author: Christine Bell
Publisher: Entangled Indulgence
Sarabeth Lucking’s life is turned upside down when the couples’ retreat she works for winds up embroiled in the biggest scandal of the year. With her reputation in tatters, she can’t imagine things getting worse, until her former co-workers are rubbed out, and a bad-ass, ex-Army Ranger shows up hell-bent on protecting her. She shows him the door, perfectly content with letting him go find someone else to brood over. Right up until her car explodes into a ball of flames…
Gavin McClintock grew up on the streets of Edinburgh, so protecting Dr. Stick-Up-Her-Rear isn’t on his bucket list. Still, a promise is a promise, and, after her brush with death, he’s going to do whatever it takes to keep Sarabeth safe. When she finally gives in and shreds her librarian-in-mourning look in favor of a sex kitten, the revealing clothes and sexy new hairdo unleash the spitfire she’s been hiding beneath that shell of propriety.
Maybe the doc isn’t the only one in need of protection…
“So, ah, yeah, everything is going well.” Sarabeth cut her grandmother off, all too aware of the way Gavin was staring at her from the corner of his eye. Maybe he was a security guard or Army Ranger or whatever the heck he was. But supersleuth, he was not.
There was a long silence but for the crackle of static, and she racked her brain for something to fill it. “And I,” she hesitated, pushing the last of the words from her mouth, “miss you.”
There. That wasn’t so hard.
“Yes, well”—her grandfather coughed loudly—“we’ll deal with everything accordingly.”
“Just as we always do,” her grandmother added with no small dose of exasperation. “You’ll contact us when this whole sordid thing is taken care of.”
It wasn’t a question, so Sarabeth didn’t respond.
“And for God’s sake, if you give an interview, give it to the New York Times. If our name winds up in the Post, we may as well shut the doors on the hotels now.”
She closed her eyes and resisted the urge to hurl the phone at the wall. “Always. I’ll be sure to be careful.”
“Yes, do that,” Grandmother said. A second later, a dial tone buzzed in her ear, and she bit her lip hard at the wave of sadness that enveloped her. When was she going to learn?
She opened her eyes to find Gavin staring at her, not even trying to feign disinterest anymore. No way was she going to let him know how that call had just ended. What would a normal, loving family say in this situation? She gripped the phone tighter.
“I know, I know. And I love you guys too, Gram.” She chuckled, not for his benefit, but at the mental image of her grandmother’s reaction if she had ever referred to her by the affectionate nickname. The Martha Stewart look-alike would probably have laid a Fabergé egg. If Sarabeth ever had kids, she was going to float the idea of Nana Banana. That’d get her good.
She counted down from five to leave space for the nonexistent reply before speaking again. “No, Granddad, don’t worry about me. Really, you’re too sweet. Just be safe, okay?” She nodded and pasted what she hoped was a wistful smile on her face.
“Sarabeth.” Gavin’s deep voice cut into her thoughts, and she turned toward him. Her cheeks ached from the effort of smiling as she sent him a questioning glance, pointing to the receiver to let him know she’d be right with him.
“No, I love you more,” she murmured into the dead phone, and rolled her eyes at Gavin conspiratorially, like, “Oh, grandparents, what can you do?”
“Sarabeth.” His tone was hesitant. Careful. “You can stop now.”
Her cheeks burned, and the smile felt frozen to her lips. He couldn’t possibly know—
But the pity in his eyes said otherwise. “There’s a green light on the side of the phone that turns red when it disconnects.”
Of course there was.
Humiliation, sadness, and anger came crashing in on her all at once, and suddenly the tears she’d managed to hold back since almost being blown to smithereens came pouring out.
Want to see what happens next? Of course you do! Check out my review here–I’ll show you a little bit more of the scene–and this time it’s Gavin who will be feeling awkward and out of his element!
Guardian for Hire is just 99 cents for a limited time–pick up yours today!