A guest blog about nothing
“Nothing. It’s a show about nothing,” they exclaimed as if it were a brilliant concept. Part of the joke for the viewer was the parody they were making of their own show.
At a book signing for my first mass market paperback, an intellectual reader stopped by and asked me what my message was.
“Message?” I asked, to be sure I head her correctly. There’s supposed to be a message? Uh-oh.
She nodded and seemed to be waiting for an answer, so I had to come up with something, but what? I wasn’t prepared for this question. Why, oh why hadn’t I taken media training?
At last (because I’m not good at fabricating bullsh*t on the fly) I decided to go with the truth. “There’s no message. I write F.Y.E. only and went on to explain that meant For Your Entertainment.
She looked puzzled, then gazed off in another direction and just sort of drifted away. I don’t know if my answer satisfied her or if she was left scratching her head like those Seinfeld TV actor-producers.
No matter. My books seem to have a theme—about people reinventing themselves, and from what my readers tell me sometimes they learn things, but unless there’s a subtle message about the ability to reinvent oneself, I have no message. At least, that’s what I thought. When I looked closer, I realized I might have another message…about embracing diversity.
Because I write light paranormal romance, eventually my human characters realize they’re dealing with a “unique” creature and sometimes have a bit of a crisis. That’s understandable, right? If you found out your husband, wife or significant other was undead, or a shapeshifter, you’d probably freak out. I’ll speak for myself here…I’ve accused my husband of being an alien from outer space before, but if I found out it was the truth…Ack! Eventually, I’d realize he’s still the man I fell in love with and all would be well.
In book three of the Strange Neighbors series The Vampire Next Door my main characters already know about each other’s paranormal conditions and abilities. Morgaine is a witch. Sly is a vampire. And they’ve known each other as friends for years. Getting them together romantically was a bit of a challenge. Transitioning from the friend zone to lovers doesn’t usually “just happen.” Something has to change.
In book two, The Werewolf Upstairs, toward the end of the book, Morgaine asks the female protagonist Roz to help her with a makeover. She’s done the Goth look since the early nineties and it’s time to let it go. When Roz is through with her, she’s a beautiful blond wearing subtle makeup and feminine clothing.
That brings us to the beginning of book three. Sly breaks a fang on a rapper’s knock-off neck “bling.” Because it was gold over silver (and everyone knows silver is poisonous to vampires) he can’t heal himself. For obvious reasons, he can’t visit a dentist either. So he knocks on Morgaine’s door to ask for her magical healing talent.
He expects to be greeted by the harsh Goth look she’s had ever since he’s known her. Instead he finds a softer, gentler Morgaine. She also seems to have a whole new open hearted attitude. This is when he realizes she’s ready for a relationship. Still grieving for his late wife, Sly hasn’t reached that point yet but he begins to think about it.
A major change like that has to grow organically. It doesn’t just happen when one person gets a makeover. It may not even happen when someone realizes it’s time to move on with his or her life. There will be moments of doubt, curiosity, experimentation, and if all goes well, eventually a new relationship forms.
So, this book was less about accepting someone as they are—they’d always done that, and not quite a fish out of water story, except as it related to the rest of society. In short, it’s FYE only. Their journey is the story. Their rediscovery of each other and new depth of feeling becomes what the story is about.