The Muse

The Inspiration for Love Over Time

As muses go, this story percolated inside my head for years, but it never really amounted to much and I never wanted to pursue the idea of a curse because I lived with the same notion all my life.

As a child, I'd heard plenty of snarky remarks from my mother about my father's heritage (Lithuanian) and that he was raised by gypsies.

This was supposed to be a put-down, but I adored my father more than my mother, and she wasn't aware of those feelings, because I tamped them down just like I tamped down everything else as a child.

"It's The (Insert My Father's Last Name) Curse" became old-hat any time something bad occurred, and quite believable after awhile.

Later, the idea returned and made me think -- what if I could just make it a little bit fantasy and a little bit reality with the curse issue being the central key to the plot?

So, I started to let the idea simmer and began to devise the main characters in my head.

The idea of the story revolving around a curse didn't appeal to me, though. It just screamed done-to-death to me, and I didn't want to regurgitate anything that was too familiar or written again and again but with twists.

So, I decided to concentrate on the romance aspect of two people who are hesitant about falling in love for entirely separate reasons, but when they meet for the first time, they are drawn together because of the curse.

In order to include the curse, I would have them be distantly related -- by a few thousand years -- to make the curse issue not only come to life but also so that it would make sense to the reader.

The leading lady, Kaisa Dalen, is directly affected by this curse and the leading man, Perry Lindstrom, is indirectly affected.

In ancient times, Kaisa's relative was betrothed to Perry's relative, but his jealous friend devised a scheme to make the bride appear unfaithful. She lost everything, including her husband, their baby daughter, and finally her life.

Through the generations, her line fail at love while his line grow harder and harbor things like resentment, jealousy, and indifference.

The two present-day relatives are fed up with the hard-edged mentality of their fate and both want to make a change, but it is partially through their ancient ancestors that Perry and Kaisa end up coming together.

His ancestor is attempting to end the bitterness and anger while she continues to stop her relatives from ever experiencing true love if it will only lead to heartache and failure.

I chose to make Kaisa a loner type with fond memories of her grandmother, a woman like her in many ways, and someone who helped Kaisa to realize the truth of the curse. She's self-sufficient and thriving career-wise but longs to experience one, true love despite the track record before her.

I chose to make Perry a cautious man with a huge heart and a lot of anger to work through in his attempts to remain out of love yet all the while seeking something to fill that void in his heart.

The connection between them is instant, but it takes awhile for them to end up together. She's timid about allowing herself to fall so deeply in love with a man that the thought of there being tragedy down the line seems evil to conceive.

He is always aware of the fact that the men in his family don't know how to love or even understand what it entails, and the last thing Perry wishes is to end up becoming like them with someone he falls for. To grow cold and heartless with that woman means he, too, has failed at love and life, and he just doesn't want to take that chance.

Before I started writing Sing to Me, the muse that hung out and encouraged the words to flow freely was music.

I didn't have anyone in particular in mind to play the leads, and I am not as hip to the Hollywood scene as some might expect, so I don't use the la-la land people as a muse.

My characters are figments of my imagination with bits and pieces of real people mixed into their personality.

What I normally do is run with an idea from a reality-based instance (like an article in a magazine), or from someone who was there as an eye-witness and they relate their version to me.

It was while I was working on my fantasy series that Neal came to mind. I set aside that work to concentrate on his story since it began to dominate my thought processes and interrupted the flow of the other work.

Coldplay's Guy Berryman

The spontaneous kiss is a true story but in a different setting and context from reality.

Liv's horrible moment is also based in-part on reality and completely rearranged in order to protect the innocent.

Her pseudo-parents are loosely based on people who were once very close to me, and some of their actions are based entirely on fact.

The setting is from an area of Michigan that I love most and have spent plenty of time relaxing in on vacation for a good many years.


The house, however, is fiction.

Another thing I tend to do with my characters is add elements that relate to myself -- such as heritage, personality, and interests.

Since music is high on my list of likes, I chose to have both leads involved in the music industry, although I have never been -- outside of having played 9th chair flute from the seventh grade through high school.

I like my female leads to be somewhat attractive and somewhat self-assured without coming off as needy, helpless, or a total drip.

However, I like to toy with the idea of their being with flaws rather than their being ideal, exceptional, and overly independent.

Personally, I think it makes for a better, more believable story.

And, I am not of the opinion that the alpha-male can ONLY exist in the pages of paranormal and historical novels.

Neal is sexy, cool, confident outwardly and dealing with self-inflicted pressure on the inside. Guilt and childhood views have shaped him.

I believe that everyone needs to be loved at least once in their lifetime, but I am aware that this isn't always the case.

I also believe that in reality, our perception of love and what it means is most-often a mistaken notion or one that is unobtainable due to the laundry-list syndrome some of us adhere to.

Even the most successful among us may, at some point, sit back and contemplate the issue of heartstrings, romance, fun-filled nights with a significant other, and even eventual procreation.

There is room for romance whether we are rising up the success ladder at work, struggling to find ourselves, or even the second-time-around.

Neal and Liv set out to prove that it is possible regardless of the past, the thought patterns that become ingrained, and even despite the things we think are important at the moment.

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