Hi all! Dana Corbit here. Have any of you ever felt that emptiness that comes when your favorite neighbor gets that big promotion to Chicago or retires to Phoenix? Sure, you're happy for her, but you're lonely as you look at the house where she used to live. Saying good-bye to characters is something like that. The feeling is bittersweet. You remember the good times you had together, but you also remember the bad times - when her dialogue wasn't crisp enough, when the cover mock-up didn't match his description in the book, when they refused to fall in love the way you planned. You still miss them though.
I've been feeling that way this month with the release of WEDDING CAKE WISHES, the third installment in the Wedding Bell Blessings trilogy. (AN UNEXPECTED MATCH came out in August 2009, and HIS CHRISTMAS BRIDE followed in December 2009.) These characters are particularly dear to my heart because the whole set-up of the trilogy is based on my relationship with my best friend, Melissa. Like Trina Scott and Amy Warren, the matriarchs in the stories, Melissa and I were pregnant together three times. She had the boys, and I had the girls. We used to joke about arranged marriages of our "matched sets," but our kids nixed the idea early on. But in fiction, it was perfectly acceptable for two meddling moms to arrange the lives of their children. Still, even in fiction, God has a sense of humor, so their matchmaking plans didn't turn out the way they planned.
No, the characters aren't completely based on the individuals who inspired them. Melissa and I are WAY TOO YOUNG to even worry about our children's marriage plans. And even our children are still too focused on Homecoming dances, soccer and rugby to think about such things. But I did spice the stories with an occasional true-to-life moment. For example, the childhood tale about Haley Scott feeding slivers of soap to the Warren family's fish, Crunch. That really happened. Just ask my youngest, Alexa. The fish was really named Crunch, too, and yes, he lived. I even borrowed two of the heros' names - Dylan and Logan - from the real boys who inspired them. Logan was disappointed, though, when he learned that his story was to be a romance, and there was no sword fighting anywhere in it.
Yes, I'm feeling the loss of the neighbor left behind as I say good-bye to these characters. It feels like saying good-bye to these six young people, who in my memories are still riding rollercoasters together at Michigan's Adventure or sledding together on what had to be the coldest day in Wisconsin history. But then there are always the new stories in my head, peopled with new characters I can love in the beginning, despise during the difficult points in the writing process and learn to love again by the end.
And you never know, two best friends still might have some matchmaking ahead. ;)