My guest today is Lauren Clark, the author of the hilarious Dancing Naked In Dixie (reviewed here) and her more recent, and more thoughtful (but very excellent!) Stardust Summer (see today’s review for deets) and who is here to talk about why her heroines are…
All Shook Up
A friend of mine recently observed that all three of my novels are about women who get very seriously shaken out of their ruts—those ruts all being very different. She then posed the following question: What makes this sort of story so fascinating?
As an author, my favorite stories to write are the ones based on realistic situations—novels about smart, personable, yet slightly-flawed women who end up tangled in a problem that completely messes with their comfort zones.
While I like to include a love interest or healthy flirtation in my writing, I also prefer that my heroine doesn’t rely on a male figure to swoop in and fix the problem. My main character usually has several issues to solve, those involving past or current family relationships, and also those challenges that are internal—ones that can wreak havoc on her confidence, career, and overall karma.
It’s the conflict—small or large—that creates the basis of any good book. I love to see growth and change in my characters, first forced, then embraced, especially when it positively impacts the lives of others. It’s how these women deal with issues, approach challenges, and eventually solve the problem in their lives that provides a satisfying (but not completely perfect) ending.
Melissa Moore, in Stay Tuned, wrestles with an unhappy marriage, an empty nest, and a slightly-neurotic mother with dementia. She has a job that’s safe and enjoyable, yet offers little reward or recognition. A fist-fight between two news anchors at the TV station throws Melissa’s life into a tailspin. She makes a split-second decision to save a newscast, and it forever alters the course of her career, her family, and her future. In the months that follow, Melissa’s marriage, faith, and friendships are tested. When a disaster threatens to destroy much that she holds dear, life ends up offering Melissa an amazing gift.
The protagonist in Dancing Naked in Dixie, Julia Sullivan, is a talented, yet scattered travel writer for Getaways magazine. On the verge of losing her job, Julia is sent on assignment to Eufaula, Alabama—a map dot in the Deep South—home to sweet tea, a charming antebellum homes, and the annual Pilgrimage. Julia, who plans only a day or two-long visits, finds herself in the midst of a powerful crisis that has the potential to destroy the very essence and deep history of this small town. Usually the first to run away from controversy, Julia finds herself drawn back to Eufaula, where she risks her job and her life to save this much-loved community.
In Stardust Summer, heroine Grace Mason finds herself yanked away from her quiet existence in Ocean Springs, Mississippi when her estranged father suffers a heart attack. As she travels across the country to say her final goodbyes, the incident forces Grace to face long-buried problems from the past. In a new environment, surrounded by people who loved and adored her father, Grace discovers the truth about her family, learns to embrace forgiveness, and find true love again.
My fourth novel, and work-in-progress, Pie Girls, involves a different kind of heroine—someone with much, more more to learn about life. Here’s the summary: Princess, Southern belle, and spoiled-rotten social climber Searcy Roberts swore on a stack of Bibles she’d never return to her hometown in Alabama. After eloping with her high school sweetheart and moving to Atlanta, Searcy embraces big city life Carrie Bradshaw-style.
But now, Searcy has a teeny, tiny problem: Her husband’s had a mid-life crisis. He’s quit his job, cancelled her platinum American Express, and run off with the “new” love of his life. Searcy finds herself back in Alabama with no job, no money, no husband, and no plan. After a frigid welcome home, she finds out that life in the small town Deep South is much harder at 32 than it ever was at sixteen. When she’s forced to take over her mother’s fledgling business, Searcy deals with sullen employees, strange ingredients, and the business owner next door who’s made it his mission to make her life miserable. Will ‘Pie Girls’ be an epic failure, or will Searcy find the courage to persevere?
Do you like a heroine who’s shaken out of her rut? What sort of novels do you find most fascinating to read?
About Lauren Clark
Lauren is a reformed news junkie, a non-reformed coffee drinker, and an official library geek. Her big loves are family, paying it forward, eight hours of sleep a night, and homemade macaroni and cheese. She lives near the Florida Gulf Coast where she is surrounded by family and and true-blue friends that inspire her writing and keep her sane.