When I first met Ava Lavelle I didn’t like her. I thought she was a bossy, highly opinionated woman in her seventies and that her awfulness would be entertaining….she was, after all, a fictional character in my novel ‘Ready Or Not?.
Ava, however, had other opinions about this view of her. She sturdily informed me that she was a complex woman and much misunderstood. Her match-making abilities were not respected by her single daughter and her husband did not seem to appreciate her high standards in housekeeping. Surely it was only reasonable to demand that mats should be used whenever beverages were placed on a table.
Underneath these remonstrations I sensed that Ava was, indeed, not the woman I thought I knew…and she was clearly not content with an unflattering walk-on part in her daughter’s romantic endeavors. She had much affection to give, but she didn’t know how to offer it.
She wanted an adventure and she wanted love. And most of all she wanted to feel she was enough…enough just as herself…. a tenderness developed between us.
I tend to become very fond of the characters in my novels. In ‘Ordinary Miracles’, for example, a woman called Jasmine just seemed to turn up and told me what it was like to be married to a man who neglects her. Writing fiction, like life itself, is sometimes most mysterious. Along with the laughs and, hopefully, page-turning plots, it allows one to explore life’s soft underbelly…the parts we may begin to believe that no-one will ever understand.
The characters in a novel share their secrets and sometimes readers do too. I received some letters about Jasmine and her unhappy marriage from women who felt much the same way. Some of them probably appeared contented. We should be careful about judging a book, or a person, by the cover….
What the characters in my novels have shown me is that humans are very complex and simple…great beauty can exist in the dance between these apparent contradictions. Love is a journey and, as Pablo Picasso once commented, ‘to be young, really young, takes a very long time’.