The other day my husband and I went on a road trip to Shiner, Texas, to tour the brewery. We had to drive through another small town and I turned to my husband.
“One of my heroes has land around here.”
He gives me the look only a man who’s been married to a writer for a long time would give. “Do you want to go visit him?”
Too often, my characters become so real that I feel like I can go visit them. My first book (still under the bed) was set in the small town near my grandmother’s house. I spent almost 2 years writing that book, and finished it about 17 years ago. To this day, I expect to see Kelly’s flower nursery when I drive through town, or encounter Sara at the local VFD barbecue.
When I see the hot shot firefighters on the news, fighting wildfires, I half-expect to see an interview with Gabe, the hero in Hot Shot.
In my latest release, “Two Hearts a Leaping,” in Swept Away for Christmas, my hero played college football for Alabama. This past summer was my first trip to Alabama, as research for this story. Until that trip, I never understood the depth of Alabamans’ passion for football. Crimson Tide stuff EVERYWHERE. So I decided to make the hero a former Tide player.
Now I, who never watched college football before, am a mad fan. I watch Alabama, UT (my son attends) and A&M (good friends are big fans). My husband shakes his head and watches with me.
It happens with books I’ve read, too, though not to such an extent, because I don’t usually spend months with characters in books I read. One exception is the characters in the Virgin River books by Robyn Carr. A couple of years ago my husband and I drove up the coast from San Francisco, through Humboldt County, where the series takes place, and I wanted nothing more than to explore to see if I could find the town.
Does that ever happen to you? That you get so invested in characters that they become real, and real-life events make you think of them?
MJ Fredrick knows about chasing dreams. Twelve years after she completed her first novel, she signed her first publishing contract. Now she divides her days between teaching elementary music, and diving into her own writing—traveling everywhere in her mind, from Belize to Honduras to Africa to the past.
She’s a four-time Golden Heart Award finalist, and she won the 2009 Eppie Award with Hot Shot and the 2010 Eppie with Breaking Daylight.