The question didn’t surprise me. People ask all kinds of things. Where you get your ideas, what your favorite genre to write is, what your favorite genre to read is… So asking what kind of character is my favorite to write seemed reasonable enough.
“Kids, I think.”
That earned me a blank look and a fly-trap jaw. “I thought you don’t like kids.”
“I don’t. Generally speaking, anyway.”
“But you like yours, right?”
I can’t tell you how often I get that one, too. Look, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million times more, I’m sure. No, I don’t like kids. No, I never wanted to have any. Yes, I have nine children. Yes, I’m thrilled that I had every single one of them.
I was wrong, okay? I am so grateful that I was wrong about not having kids. My kids were and are the delight of my life. Now, I didn’t always show it well. When you don’t know how, you don’t. But I didn’t just love my kids. I liked them. And I like them more every year.
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What Characters Do I Love to Write Most & Why?
Definitely kids. There’s just something magical about showing the very things that can annoy me in person on the page, and suddenly it’s hilarious instead of obnoxious. Well, for me.
Honestly, I think writing children as characters actually taught me to appreciate children better in real life. I find I smile naturally at other peoples’ children when I’m out and about now. Once upon a not-so-long-ago, I worked at not scowling when a child started yammering at me about something I didn’t really care about.
Just being transparent here. I’m not proud of it. But when my children got old enough to understand that they were loved and valued and appreciated—that they were and are wanted… Oh, so very wanted. When that happened, I started being vocal about my personal weaknesses.
Because you see, I’d met other people who felt guilty for not naturally loving and adoring all children, all the time, no matter what. And I thought it was time they saw that your kids are different from “kids” in general, and the more you spend time with the little darlings, the more you learn to appreciate them.
For me, that appreciation exponentialized (yes, I made it up. It should be a word) when I began writing Aggie. In those Stuart kids, I put all the delight that I’d enjoyed from my own children… from the times I’d been able to tear off my selfish blinders and really see into the hearts and souls of other peoples’ children.
But even that didn’t do it—not really.
While a bratty boy who kidnapped Santa Claus did teach me much about understanding children, even Andy didn’t do it for me.
No, a precocious little boy from Not a Word, with red glasses and a flair for comedy reminded me of something my mother had taught me and my children proved every day of my mothering.
Children are not imbeciles.
Shocker, right? All the books dumbed down to “their level,” and all the presumption about what they can and can’t understand irritated me. And yet, I was just as bad.
See, in our house, it kind of naturally worked out like this: From zero to elevenish… the kids were my husband’s domain. He’s fabulous with little kids. He likes to play and be silly and go do things. Swim, walk, park, ride a bike… read a book.
Kevin is phenomenal with stuff like that. Me… not so much.
But once they start questioning the world around them… once they start thinking beyond the next fun thing and start pondering life… that’s when I can really understand and connect in ways I’d try before. And fail.
Oh, I failed so much.
Writing Rory reminded me that seven-year-olds can have some pretty profound thoughts. They can hold intelligent conversations. Yes, they get silly and annoying. But seriously? So do I!!!
Rory Forrester Mackenzie isn’t my favorite character that I’ve ever written, but he is one of my favorite characters to write.
And part of that is just because he’s the little guy who taught me how enjoyable little guys can be.
Speaking of Rory, Mac, and Savannah… here’s a bit about Not a Word.
It’s bad enough when your reputation means everyone assumes the worst of you when you’ve earned that. But when you spend your post-high school years fighting to redeem that reputation, and the girl you’ve secretly loved all that time accuses you of the unthinkable…
Maybe there is hell on earth.
All Todd “Mac” Mackenzie has ever wanted was a chance to love her—Savannah Forrester. And when he gets it, nothing could be sweeter.
Right up to the moment she turns on him and flees town.
He’s stuck now—stuck in a place where everyone hates him. Stuck in a dead-end life and without the girl he can’t help but loving or understanding why.
Why did she pretend to care?
Why did she shred what little reputation he had?
Why did she leave without a word?
Why can’t he defend himself?
Why does he keep on, year after year, enduring the censure?
He’s not said one word against her or in his defense.
Not a word.
But when Savannah returns to Brant’s Corners with a boy, Mac has only one question.
Why does the kid look like his first-grade picture?
*Note: this is one of the few books that I have that I absolutely would caution parents on. The subject matter is deep and hard. I kept the writing clean, but again, subject matter. It’s important, I think, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for all ages.