Some characters walk right into my head and take over. This is the first time one walked into a couch session and did. So, without further ado, meet Luke. I think you'll like him.
Hi, Cecilia! I’m Luke Anderson. Actually, that’s Dr. Luke Anderson. I’m a trauma surgeon who’s been in the army for the last four years, since my residency ended. And less than a week after I became a civilian again, my parents died from a drunk driver. So now that I’ve spilled my guts, I guess that means I’m officially on your couch.
1. If your character were to go to a psychologist – willingly or unwillingly – what would bring them in? Yes, a court order is a valid answer.
Okay, so in medical school our psychiatry training was—what?—less than a year of knowledge crammed in with many other classes. Which means I knew the symptoms I was experiencing before I was honorably discharged from the military were PTSD. But it’s completely different when the doctor becomes the patient, isn’t it? My mom, shortly before her death, recommended a therapy support group especially for soldiers with PTSD. And it’s there I’ve made many friends, including the psychologist who runs it.
However, all that said, it’s still tough as sh—sorry. It’s tough to talk about having any problems, any issues. That’s why I thank god every day for my girlfriend, Sam, and that she came into my life when she did. She’s so patient and good with me, good for me. Yeah, she just might beat out any psychologist.
2. Is the presenting problem one of the main internal or external conflicts in your book? If so, how does it present itself?
God, it is weird dissecting myself like this. So I’ll try to be more objective, call myself patient X. Here’s my diagnosis: Patient X experienced PTSD for roughly eight months before his discharge. After his parents were killed in an accident, there were a few days of insomnia, lack of appetite, aggression, anger issues.
But then I met Sam. Sorry, it’s just too weird to call myself patient X. So here I am being me. And I might still have nightmares for…who knows how long. But the daily broken record of guilt and shame are getting quieter and quieter.
3. It's always interesting to see how people act when they first enter my office. Do they immediately go for my chair, hesitate before sitting anywhere, flop on the couch, etc.? What would your character do?
Oh, I love shrinks. This question made me laugh. I don’t know why, but I’m sure you could analyze why. Anyway, I would probably sit anywhere.
4. Does your character talk to the therapist? How open/revealing will your character be? What will he or she say first?
Well, the first time I went to group, I didn’t talk about my problems. Figured, since I was the new guy, I’d better say something, though. So I talked about trying to find a job fresh from being discharged. I’m guessing that means I’m not open to revealing myself.
But I was different with Sam. Yeah, I keep talking about her, but I can’t help it. She—I felt like I could reveal myself. It took a while, and I was still grieving, but I did open to her. It’s still hard to open up in group, though. But I’ve since had a few talks with Mack, the psychologist I was talking about who runs the support group.
5. Your character walks into the bar down the street after his/her first therapy session. What does he/she order? What happens next?
A beer and I’d ask Sam to join me. After talking with Mack, I felt like he cracked my skull open. There were things inside my mind I didn’t even know existed. So, yeah, I’d ask for Sam to join me, to sit next to her, and laugh. Man, she can make me laugh. And sometimes, that’s all you need in life, you know?
6. When you're building characters, do you have any tricks you use to really get into their psyches, like a character interview or personality system (e.g., Myers-Briggs types)?
I’ll let Red answer this one, but it’s been fun being interviewed. I think. I feel a bit like after a talk with Mack, which reminds me I have to call him. Anyway, thanks! -Luke
You're very welcome! Thanks for stopping by.
Red: So, what did you think of Luke? Yep, he popped into my head shortly after his girlfriend, Samuella, popped in there first. While sitting in my mind for a few months, usually when I’m finishing another of my books, my characters tell me things about themselves. I listen. That’s all I do. I just try to listen to what kind of person they are. To become the best listener of your characters, I think it best to listen to real people. I mean really listen. Get to know why people say certain things, why they think the way they do, get to know as many people as possible. And care about them. It not only makes you a great writer but a better person too.
Before I write, I make sure my couples are compatible. So I do a basic questionnaire for them based on the Attachment Theory. Writing romance, I think, takes a lot of responsibility to not just write about a couple falling in love, but also make sure the couple will be good for each other and will stay in love for a long time. That’s why I find the Attachment Theory so helpful.
Thank you so much for interviewing Luke and me! This was a blast and such fun questions! :)
Thank you both for visiting! I like Luke a lot and am looking forward to reading the book.
As a military historian by day, sometimes Red does feel a bit clandestine when she writes romance at night. No one knows that while she researches heroes of the past and present, she uses everything for her characters in her books. Her secret's been safe . . . until now.
She lives in Montana with her family and far too many animals but never enough books.
She loves her readers, so please feel free to contact her at http://www.redljameson.com
Blurb: Book 1 of The With These Wing Series, a paranormal romance
For more than a thousand years Samuella Dís has been a fairy godmother. The fairy title is ironic, since she’s a dís—an ancient society of all-female, winged, immortal avengers who paint their toenails with reckless abandon and have difficulties with real swearwords. However, something’s wrong with Sam’s latest assignment. Her newest orphan is a six-foot-three soldier, who’s indubitably handsome, and a flausching man. Not a boy at all, but a flinging flanging man!
Luke Anderson is home barely a week when he loses his parents in a drunk driving accident. Already plagued by nightmares from his tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, he’s not sure how much more he can take. And maybe he’s gone a bit crazy because he can’t keep his eyes off one spunky strawberry blonde at his parents’ funeral—inappropriate, right? But she offers so much comfort in those huge amber eyes of hers, and, hey, it’s not like the world would end if he hit on the woman.
Since the dís are a dwindling species, The Norns, Sam’s bosses, are trying to matchmake Sam and Luke. Only, the last time they played cupids England almost collapsed. Plus, there’s the issue of human men going insane once they’ve had sex with a dís. And Sam could die from a broken heart. Oh, and there’s the little matter of when a dís gets upset she can cause apocalyptic events. But it might be worth it for love. Then again, the Norns have been stalking Oprah lately, and there’s no guessing if they’re merely insane or certifiably brilliant.
Where you can find With These Wings:
And other retail book sellers
“I never sleep,” she said.
Now she smiled. “Of course I sleep. I mean, I don’t when I’m—I don’t need—I mean, I slept with you.”
She reached a hand out, almost touching his cheek, but stopped. “Are you okay?”
He had to refrain from wincing. Again, he was reminded she was here for him because she wanted to comfort him. She didn’t want to get in his pants and see what the hell had inappropriately sprung to life.
She probably thought him too old. He was too old for her. But as soon as he’d told himself as much, the thought flickered away like a spring butterfly, especially as he looked down at her wide lucid brown eyes.
He nodded. “Are you okay?”
“I—” she looked genuinely perplexed. “I never sleep.”
“You sure about that?” he teased.
She grinned again. “I sound like a broken record, don’t I?”
“Do kids your age still use that expression? Do you even know what a broken record is?”
She laughed. “Hey, I’ve listened to many a Forty-Five in my day.”
He popped his brows up. “I’m impressed. You even know the lingo. But don’t tell me you listen to records because the sound quality is better.”
“It is better.”
He rolled onto his back, flinging his free hand over his eyes. “God, you’re not one of those, are you?”
She scooted closer to him. Now, she propped herself up on an elbow and looked down at him, but his arm was still under her. “Who are those?”
“Those people who talk on and on about the difference between digital sound versus…I don’t know…versus anything else.”
She shook her head. “There’s a huge difference in the sound quality. Can’t you hear it? Or are you too old?”
He chuckled at her mocking, removing his hand from his face. “Okay. I have to know. How old are you, missy?”
Her smile turned mischievous. “I can’t tell you how old I am.”
“Why not?” He suddenly swallowed. “Jesus, you are over eighteen, aren’t you? Oh god.”
She started to laugh as he placed his hand over his face again. “I’m older than eighteen, yes.”
“I’m quite a bit older than eighteen.”
“I doubt it.”
She bit her bottom lip, still not telling him, and in the process giving him a heart attack from worrying she was much too young. Or maybe his heart was spasming because he loved this fun banter they had.
Deciding to confess his age, he said, “I’m thirty-three. Am I…ten years older than you?”
“Twelve years older than you?”
“I’m not twenty-one.”
“Are you older than twenty-one?”
“Of course I am.” She rolled her eyes.
She sighed. “Okay, I’ll tell you, but you can’t tell anyone.”
“Or you’ll have to kill me? Are you a spy? Is your age a national security issue?”
She giggled, shaking her head. “Ready, Mr. Smarty Pants?”
He took in a dramatic breath. “I’m bracing myself. Hit me with it.”
Her smile fell away as she said, “I’m one thousand, seven hundred twenty-six years old.”
“Wow, that’s—that’s very detailed.”