As many of you know, my ideal reader is named Frank. Interesting fellow, quite sociable in the mornings – especially if I bring coffee. Which, of course, I always do. I like the company.
Well, he’s grown weary of the Fantasy work and has demanded something new. In fact, he’s insisted.
How do I know? Well, just he other day as I sat down on my deck to begin a morning writing session, Frank pulled up a chair opposite of me, kicked his flip-flops off (too hot for boots, he later told me) and said, “I want something Romantic!”
I practically spit my coffee, sending the cat scurrying for the door. He must be joking. A romance novel?
“Excuse me?” I said, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand. I hadn’t spilled my coffee, which was good. Computers and beverages do not mix well.
“You want a Romance, now?”
He nodded, that friendly smug smile I’ve come to love/hate gracing his face as he lifted the coffee to his mouth. Coffee I’d made for him, of course. He never brought his own.
“Yup,” he said.
“A historical one, too. Without all the magic and swords.” He waved his hand to emphasize his point. “Maybe in New Orleans. You have family there. Make it work.”
I shook my head in disbelief. Yes, I had family there. A strong tie to the city that went back generations, to the very first days of it’s founding. But a Romance? I considered the idea. It would be fun giving it a whirl. Good audience, especially if done well.
“Stevie, my boy,” he said after realizing I wasn’t going to speak.
“You’ve taken so long to write that fantasy novel for me, that my kids have all grown up and don’t want to read about that any more. In fact, I read alone these days, so it’s time for something new.”
I sagged, feeling the weight of his words sink in. That hit home. Sure, I’d taken a wee bit of time to get to the end. I had created a world, for Light’s sake! Did he seriously think that creating worlds happened in seven days?? Well, to be honest, I ‘visited’ a world, really and just took notes; but exploration takes time, resources – things like that.
“Nope,” he said after another swig. “I need something new. Something that makes me dream of things I wish I’d experienced when I was younger. To dance all night, love all day… be with someone who was my soul mate.”
I watched Frank carefully, especially his eyes. They glazed, looking into a distant past or a wished for future – something far yet felt. His voice faded, his breath stilled. He wanted magic he could connect to and build from, that give him hope for something possible, not fantastical. He wanted to cry for love.
I nodded, feeling Frank’s thoughts. I followed his eyes, his gaze, looking over townhouses and the north shore mountains – into the past, to a place by a pond…
“Beside still, dark waters of a Lilly pad pond, a bench sat beneath the Willows.”
And thus it began.