Guest blogger: Sandy Curtis
Would writers make good psychoanalysts?
A reader recently told me that she loved my women’s fiction, Murder, Mayhem & Men On Pause, because it’s so real, and it made me wonder if writers are able to bring characters to life because they are good observers of human nature. They need to be attuned to the interplay of emotions between people and their reactions, physical and verbal, subtle and obvious.
Being empathetic also helps. If you can feel someone’s joy, someone’s pain, you can bring that out when writing and project it into your characters.
The downside to this is that it can take a toll on the writer. When I was writing my first romantic suspense, Dance with the Devil, there were several moments when I had to stop writing and leave my office because of my reactions to what was happening in the story. I had immersed myself in it to the extent that I couldn’t be objective, couldn’t stop my see-sawing of emotions as I put my characters through trauma and in the path of danger. Mind you, the love scenes gave me a completely different reaction
I think the great writer Pearl S Buck summed it up well when she said:
The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: a human creature born abnormally sensitive. To him a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death.
Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create – so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.
So I don’t think writers would make good psychoanalysts. We’d find it hard to not project our own emotions into the client’s lives.
But I can understand why my reader said she loved that Murder, Mayhem & Men On Pause was so real. Ellie, Cass and Kandy are amalgams of every woman I’ve known. They are the shining example of friendships that help keep women sane and able to see the humour in life. I loved writing Ellie’s brave attempts to get back the life she’d lost years ago and become the person she felt she was meant to be. And Cass’s patience in dealing with her mother’s less-than-subtle attempts to rule her life, and that (wink, wink) chocolate cake scene. And Kandy’s reactions when she discovers her husband’s secret life and the unusual decision she makes. And then there’s that gorgeous cop …
I also enjoyed writing Ellie’s relationship with her unemployed daughter Miranda. Too often we don’t see that our adult children are no longer the youngsters who depended on us for their everyday needs. There’s something truly wonderful in realising your child has become the kind of person that makes your heart swell.
Seeing this book out into the world was a great feeling, and the feedback has been so positive it’s been a big incentive to keep writing Passion, Penguins & Pregnant Pauses, which focuses on Kandy’s new life. And good friends Ellie and Cass are there to help.
Murder, Mayhem & Men On Pause
A bankrupt husband.
A marriage on the rocks.
A cop more sexy than the legal limit.
Just when Ellie Cummins is free to shed her corporate wife image, she finds the body of a young woman in an apartment she’s been hired to re-design. Her fledging business depends on this contract, so she tries to ignore the long-buried grief the trauma exposes.
When Ellie learns that her daughter has a personal connection to the victim, and the police have no leads, she and friends Cass and Kandy decide to investigate the murder. But Brisbane’s alleyways are dark and their detective skills dubious, so how far will they go for justice?
Kandy once lived a hard life on the streets, but will uncovering her husband’s secret life destroy all she’s achieved since then? And solid, dependable Cass isn’t as content with her life as she seems.
And is the cop who responded to their call more interested in Ellie than the investigation?
For the three friends, it’s a time of change and self-discovery. And the realisation that life, like love, doesn’t play fair.
You can buy Murder, Mayhem & Men On Pause from Amazon.