I first met the amazing Jennifer Leeland at RWA in 2008.
So I’m super thankful she’s agreed to guest in my absence.
When you read this post I’ll be winging my way around the bottom of Lake Michigan toward the beautiful metropolis of Madison Wisconsin.
The DeJerkifying of Joshua
I’d never written a werewolf before. In fact, I believe when werewolves or vampires were mentioned the word “Never!” might have passed my lips. Hence, the Universe responded with not on werewolf, but three all set in the 19th century. I swear I heard the Universe laugh at the bruises on my forehead from head- to- desk contact.
But to continue. Lord Joshua Arundale, Earl of Arundale, arrogant and pushy aristocrat featured in “Wolf of Arundale Hall” was my first werewolf. Most of my stories are told to me by the characters and told in a past voice. In other words, they tell it like my friends tell me a Vegas vacation when they’ve gotten back to reality and sobered up. They lie to me.
Usually, my characters lie to me to make themselves look good or to gloss over some of the more painful moments that occurred while they were falling in love. Joshua created a whole new reality for himself. In this reality, he could leave his new wife in charge of his estates, his brother, and his pregnant cousin and come home after ten years to wedded bliss. No, seriously. Not only “wedded bliss” but dirty spanky-spanky wedded bliss.
Even I knew he was lying. Elizabeth tried to interject, to bring the story back to something that made sense, but Joshua was loud and forceful. I struggled with him. Argued with him. I asked him questions he wouldn’t answer. Most of all, I was tempted to kill him in the book just to make me feel better.
As a dominant, Joshua wouldn’t reveal his vulnerability, his abject fear when he came home nor his constant doubt as he attempted to make up for ten years of absence. The fact is that no man, wolf or otherwise, wants to grovel. And that turned out to be the biggest problem.
I got through the story, 70,000 words of some of the best bull pucky I’d ever written. I knew Joshua was lying to me, messing with me, hiding something. I knew that the key to making the book “right” was figuring out what he was trying to hide. Elizabeth, bless her heart, was no help. See, she loves him, so she’s willing to let his story stand. Reading the story, I wanted to kill him. It couldn’t be right. This couldn’t be the story they bugged me long and hard to tell.
Completely at a loss, I sent the story to my critique partner. After all, Melissa had nagged me to write it, encouraged me to finish it and listened to all my whining. So, she read it and loved (predictably) Elizabeth but completely agreed that Joshua was a first class bona-fide jerk. I got the book back with Melissa’s suggestions and corrections and gave Joshua an ultimatum.
Get real or get deleted.
Slowly, painfully, Joshua began to reveal what really happened. The dejerkifying process involved more groveling, more doubting and a near miss with a pistol, but eventually, he was much more human. Whenever he gave me trouble, I reminded him that it was his humanity that won fair lady’s heart, not his arrogance (though I think she likes that too).
You know, Joshua really believed that the way to win back his wife was good sex. I’m not sure why the male of our species believes a great orgasm will sweep away any conflict and resentment. Well, okay, it might for the moment, but in the long run, all that stuff is still there and, contrary to Joshua’s hope, we can’t stay in bed screwing forever.
There was a lot more of Joshua’s soul in the revised version. In the first telling, Joshua had made himself sound confident, sure of himself, always in control of everything and everyone. But the reality was more complex. His moments of pain, of panic, of despair were much deeper than even I knew. Once he got started opening up, he really bared all.
In the end, I had more respect for the vulnerable, less confident Joshua than the all-knowing dominant who was in charge of everyone.
Only two more werewolves to go. *groans*
You can find out more about Jennifer on her webpage here.
Amy speaking: She also provided the BLURB and COVER to her upcoming Ellora’s Cave release. You have no idea how I’m looking forward to this book. It doesn’t have a release date yet, but DANG do I hope it gets one soon!!!!
WOLF OF ARUNDALE HALL by Jennifer Leeland
Left alone to run the vast Arundale estates, Elizabeth Arundale listens to the whining of her husband’s distant cousin, extricates her brother-in-law from brothels and provides a firm hand for the cousin’s child who is a possible Arundale heir. For ten years, her husband has dumped it all in her small hands, never revealing why he traveled to Jamaica almost immediately after their wedding. But Elizabeth has reached the end of her rope and when she discovers a murder connected to a family secret, she wonders if she can protect her husband’s home and family.
Nothing would have compelled Joshua Arundale to return to his estate except a threat to the woman who had been his childhood friend and now, his wife. When he receives a letter stating a mutilated body has been left on Elizabeth’s doorstep, he rushes home. The years yawn between them and the secret Joshua kept from her is like a bitter sore he won’t allow to heal. Elizabeth rips away the scab and forces him to deal with the mess he left behind.
When Joshua’s brother gets himself into a situation he can’t handle, the secret is in danger of being revealed. Elizabeth and Joshua must team up to protect the men of Arundale.