Authors frequently use their non-writing careers to add realism to their stories, like medical professional CJ Lyons who writes about doctors and ex-reporter Sandra Brown who has written several heroines in the same line of work. Today, debut erotic romance author Roni Loren talks about putting her past career as a therapist to good use, to help her create multidimensional characters for this month's Crash Into You. Get an insider’s look at this new hero and heroine when the author, in her words, “puts my characters on the therapy couch”.
Whether we intend to or not, every writer brings his or her unique life experiences to the keyboard. That’s not to say what we write is autobiographical. But the places we’ve been, the people we’ve met, and the careers we’ve chosen often weave their ways into our books. And the same has been true for me.
I have a graduate degree in social work and before I stayed home with my son, I spent a few years providing therapy to college students and teens. I also worked with women as a birthmother counselor at an adoption agency.
And one of the first things you do when as a counselor is get a person’s history. What was their childhood like, what is their relationship with their parents, what traumas have they been through, etc. When put together, all those things gave me great insight into how the person who was sitting there in my office became who they were.
Time and again, I was amazed at how one key event or one key person in someone’s life could literally change everything — the whole trajectory of a life. The difference between successful, happy person and lost soul can be smaller than you think.
That’s how Brynn from Crash Into You came to me. I imagined a woman who had overcome so many obstacles in her childhood--absent father, unstable mother, no money--and was now fashioning her own path to success. But then trauma strikes, she’s sexually assaulted, and the life she was on the way to leading (and the man she was on the way to loving) get knocked completely off course. One event and everything changes. Would she ever be able to find her way back?
And as I started to write the story I realized I didn’t just want to see brief glimpses of what Brynn and Reid’s (the hero) relationship was like before everything went wrong. I wanted to live it (and let the reader live it). I wanted to show the contrast of before and after.
So, I broke a writing “rule” and did a dual timeline story. Every other chapter alternates between the present and ten years earlier when Reid and Brynn were dating in college. Instead of putting my characters on the “couch” and simply hearing their history, I showed it. If I hadn’t done it that way, I’m not sure if the real impact of how one event can change everything would’ve come through.
Plus, since I called upon my therapy background, I can at least tell my parents that all those student loans and years in college weren’t totally wasted, right? ; )
- Roni Loren
Do you have any events you can look back on and see how it totally changed your direction for the better? Let us know in the comments below. And for more genre coverage be sure to check out our Everything Erotica Page!