Friday 14 September 2012

The Story That Wasn’t, by Leigh Talbert Moore

All of my stories come out with romance in them. That’s no surprise. In the case of The Truth About Faking, the comedy was the big surprise—to me at least. Originally, I had a completely different idea of how this story would go, and it started with the movie Signs by M. Night Shyamalan.

No, the book wasn’t going to be science fiction.

I saw Signs the first time in the theater with my husband and two friends about a week before my oldest daughter was born. At that viewing, the theater was packed, and the unknown girl sitting next to me kept screaming every time the aliens would appear. Naturally, I giggled every time she screamed, and basically I missed the subtext of the film.

Fast-forward seven years, and Signs comes on HBO one night. Hubs and I decide to watch it again, and upon second viewing, I was struck by the other story of the film: The minister who’s lost his faith, who no one will allow to stop being a minister, who tells his brother-in-law about the two kinds of people in the world—those who see miracles and are optimistic and those who believe we’re in this thing alone and are afraid. And the minister who says he’s never praying again.

I love that story! And I was determined to explore it in a book.

So the book that’s out now, which was originally titled Shadow Falls, was going to be more dramatic and serious, and I was going to explore these fascinating themes for myself.

The only problem was Harley. She kept coming out funny.

I’d write a scene where she’s leaving the gym, and wham-o! She’d get hit in the head with a basketball. I’d have her failing to make the cheerleading squad, and her best friend would get her on in spite of her one jump, “The Banana.”

When Jason appeared, things just got better. And it’s funny, because writing the book, I felt myself relating more to Jason than any other character. He loves Harley’s funny self and all her big ideas, which are really ridiculous. And he’s willing to wait for her (or help her) to get over herself and date him.

So for whatever reason, those two characters took over the story, and what was going to be very thoughtful and sad came out wrapped in pink tulle with a sparkly bow on the side.

I think that’s okay. It’s a matter of not forcing our characters to be what we want them to be when they’re really something else. And I think the end product, while it still deals with serious matters, leaves readers smiling.

That’s equally as good as frowning, contemplating heavy thoughts. All that frowning causes wrinkles anyway.

Thanks for having me, Jessica! I hope readers enjoy the story that is.

Book description:

Jason just wants a date with Harley.
Harley just wants a date with Trent.
Trent's still getting over Stephanie.

When Harley and Jason decide to fake date, they uncover a school of deceptions. Trent's got a secret, but so does Jason. And the more time Harley spends secretly kissing her fake boyfriend, the further she gets from her dreams with Trent.

Worst of all, Harley's mom is getting cozy with her hot massage therapy student, and even Harley's Reverend Dad can't fake not being bothered by it. But when the masks finally come off, can everyone handle the real truth?

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  1. Jessica, nice to see Leigh here.

    Leigh, it's funny how characters and plots just take over a story from our original ideas. It's a fun ride!

  2. I finished reading this book last week! It's way more than a cutesy read but filled with meaning as we follow Harley's journey! I recommend!

  3. Love this! And I'm so happy for you Leigh. I love finding out how you explored and developed this story and characters.

    Thanks for hosting her, Jessica.

  4. Sometimes those make the best stories!

  5. Hey, thanks guys! Thanks, Jessica for having me today! Hope everyone likes my book (even if it makes you laugh instead of cry). :o) <3

  6. This is next on my tbr pile, copy purchased and everything. If it wasn't for book club, I'd be devouring it now! I loved reading this. I love learning how characters assert themselves. :)

  7. I agree, sometimes you have to let characters be who they are!

  8. It can be fun to see how characters develop from the original concept; which threads of the original idea remain.

    Great post!

  9. Amazing where story ideas can come from. Just watch life go by.
    As someone else said, nice to see Leigh here.

  10. It's so true how we can't force characters to be something they aren't. I had the opposite problem with one of my books, FOSSEGRIM. I'd wanted it to be a funny book about a boy turning into a mermaid. But instead, Sage came out all dark and synical and ruined a lot of the funny moments I had in mind, making them a lot more subtle.


“I'm using my art to comment on what I see. You don't have to agree with it.” ~John Mellencamp

“Allowing an unimportant mistake to pass without comment is a wonderful social grace” ~Judith S. Marin

“I don't ever try to make a serious social comment.” ~Paul McCartney

“I'd make a comment at a meeting and nobody would even acknowledge me. Then some man would say the same thing and they'd all nod.” ~Charlotte Bunch

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“We're not going to pay attention to the silliness and the petty comments. And quite frankly, women have joined me in this effort, and so it's not about appearances. It's about effectiveness.” ~Katherine Harris