Reading Reality has a very special guest today. It’s Ruthie Knox, the author of February’s marvelous contemporary romance Ride With Me and her utterly delicious new, just-in-time-to-celebrate-the-Jubilee, set-in-London About Last Night.
Because so much of the fun of About Last Night (and it is scrumptious fun, see the review here) is in the heroine’s talks with herself (Good Cath’s attempts to suppress Bad Cath, read the book!) I asked Ruthie to give us some insight into successfully writing characters who have a LOT of internal dialogue.
Take it away, Ruthie!
Hearing Voices: On Internal Dialogue
A good friend recently mentioned to me how much she despises it when people use the term “internal dialogue.” We have only the one brain, after all. It’s not as though we carry conversations in our own heads, complete with quotation marks and speech tags, right? So anything internal has to be “monologue,” not “dialogue.”
Except . . . hmm.
Sometimes I do talk to myself inside my head as if there are two miniature versions of me in there, yammering at each other. In fact, sometimes when I’m hiking, I actually speak one side of the conversation out loud, while the other one talks back to me silently.
Crazy, or just human? Let’s hope the latter, because the heroine of my new release, About Last Night, definitely has a fair bit of internal dialogue going on. Her name is Cath, and she has a checkered past, but she’s reformed.
At times of stress — which I give her in spades — poor Cath tends to find herself torn between her old identity (“Bad Cath”) and her reformed one (“Good Cath,” a.k.a “New Cath”), and the two of them duke it out in her head.
Take this scene, for example, where Cath has just eaten a bacon sandwich in the kitchen of the stranger whose bed she slept in the night before…
Maybe it was the hangover, but it was the best sandwich she’d ever had. Or maybe it was City. He moved around his tiny kitchen like he knew what he was doing, and he’d fussed over the sandwich for a long time.
Beyond asking her how she liked her tea, though, he didn’t say a word, and that was fine with Cath. She wasn’t sure what social script applied when you’d passed out on someone, woken up in their bed, and then immediately thereafter come very close to mating with them on a table. The best strategy would no doubt have been flight, but she’d needed the sandwich.
The food gave her necessary fuel, and it also provided time to regroup. Bad Cath and Good Cath were duking it out in her head, and she was having trouble keeping her wires from crossing.
Good Cath was screechy, slightly hysterical: What do you think you’re doing? Sex on a table with a stranger? You don’t do that anymore! Hell, you didn’t even do that before. Knock it off. Put your clothes on. Go home. It’s still possible to turn this into a blip! It’s not too late, but you’re cutting it close, missy.
Bad Cath, by contrast, practically purred with lust: That man can kiss, Mary Catherine. What could it hurt to do it again? You’re already here. You made your mistake. What’s the big deal if you make it a little bigger? And speaking of big, did you notice the way City felt pressing between your legs? Yeah. That. You’re going to walk out on that? Don’t kid a kidder, babe.
What could she do but feed her stomach and try to drown out the voices?
Plus, it wasn’t like she could simply flee the scene. She was only half dressed. At least she knew where her clothes were now. She’d spotted them drying on a rack in the corner as soon as she walked into the kitchen. City must have put them through the wash for her, but he, like so many of his backward countrymen, didn’t have a dryer.
He could deny being nice all day long, but the guy was definitely a Boy Scout. A Boy Scout who kissed like a Hell’s Angel. Not that she’d ever kissed a Hell’s Angel. And not that anyone had ever kissed her quite like City just had. Zero to sixty in three-point-four seconds. The man knew how to ring her bell.
But she was done with the bell ringing, right? Right. New Cath didn’t sleep with strange men on studio tables. New Cath said, “Thanks a bunch,” got dressed, and clomped on home.
Do that, New Cath instructed. Do that right now.
Of course, she doesn’t do it. Where would be the fun in that? She stays, and she sleeps with him (which turns out to have been a very good bad idea), and then she flees — only to find herself face-to-face with him on the train and embroiled in yet another internal dilemma.
She and City were over and done with, but he seemed to have missed the memo. Or he’d read it, then shredded it.
So send him another copy.
She didn’t want to. She knew she should, but she so didn’t want to. “You’re just trying to get me back into bed with you.”
Nev’s mouth curled up at the corners, and he lowered his voice, leaning closer. “Of course I’m trying to get you back into bed with me. I loved having you in my bed. I’d like to chain you to my bed.” He trailed a finger down her bare arm, leaving a trail of sighing nerve endings. “But I’d also like to have lunch with you.”
Desperate to maintain her resolve, Cath gestured toward a woman at the other end of the car. “Isn’t Portia there more your type?” Tall, blond, and refined, the woman was dressed for the office in a pencil skirt and an expensive-looking white silk blouse. Cath, by contrast, wore a cheap black sleeveless top and pants from Zara. Her fingernails were bitten to the quick, her hair hopelessly wispy. He didn’t want her. She was a mess.
Nev glanced over at the woman and then looked back at Cath, his smile widening as his eyes traveled the length of her body. “I know what I want, Mary Catherine.”
Her nipples drew tight, and she felt a rush of moisture soak her panties. Stupid, traitorous body.
“I can’t,” she insisted.
“I mean, I can’t go out with you.”
“Ah.” Concern furrowed his forehead, and Cath tried not to find it adorable. She failed. “Is there someone else?”
“Good.” He smiled again, and she smiled back before she could catch herself. She needed to remember to watch out for sneak attacks. Nev tilted his head, considering her. “What then, you don’t fancy me?”
Tell him you don’t. Tell him you don’t fancy him one bit.
She gave him the same slow once-over he’d just given her. “What’s not to fancy?”
New Cath threw up her hands, disgusted with the whole situation.
Isn’t she cute? And slightly psychotic?
It was tremendous fun to write a heroine who’s such a mess, but it also required some torturous, angsty writing days. Because I don’t think anyone gets as divided and messed up in the head as Our Lovely Cath without some serious trauma in her background, and Cath is no exception.
Ultimately, what About Last Night is all about is watching Cath find love, and unfolding all the ways in which learning to trust — opening herself to feel — forces her to come to terms with her past and find the forgiveness that lets her be neither Old Cath nor New Cath, but simply Cath.
What about you — do you ever have internal dialogue, or are you strictly a monologue sort of person? Confession time!
Sure, opposites attract, but in this sexy, smart, eBook original romance from Ruthie Knox, they positively combust! When a buttoned-up banker falls for a bad girl, “about last night” is just the beginning.
Cath Talarico knows a mistake when she makes it, and God knows she’s made her share. So many, in fact, that this Chicago girl knows London is her last, best shot at starting over. But bad habits are hard to break, and soon Cath finds herself back where she has vowed never to go . . . in the bed of a man who is all kinds of wrong: too rich, too classy, too uptight for a free-spirited troublemaker like her.
Nev Chamberlain feels trapped and miserable in his family’s banking empire. But beneath his pinstripes is an artist and bohemian struggling to break free and lose control. Mary Catherine—even her name turns him on—with her tattoos, her secrets, and her gamine, sex-starved body, unleashes all kinds of fantasies.
When blue blood mixes with bad blood, can a couple that is definitely wrong for each other ever be perfectly right? And with a little luck and a lot of love, can they make last night last a lifetime?
If you’re teased enough about the debate between Good Cath and Bad Cath, About Last Night will be available on June 11 from Amazon, B&N, and everywhere. Goodreads is already starting to rack up reviews.
**~~**About That Giveaway**~~**
One lucky commenter will be randomly chosen to win a digital preview copy of About Last Night. Winners will pick up their copy through NetGalley. Good luck to all!