One of the questions I get asked a lot about from my students when we talk about my books, is which characters I like the most, or which are my favorites. It’s a question I smile at and usually respond with “Depends on the day.”
It’s true, though, that I write for whoever needs their story told, or whoever I’m ‘feeling’ at the moment. The hardest thing about writing a series that has grown to so many characters is finding enough time to showcase all of them. I worry sometimes I’m writing too much for one and not enough for others. I worry sometimes I have ideas for characters that might not fit with my initial plan.
But mostly, I write when I feel the characters need to talk.
When I feel confident, more of Jack comes out. He is such fun to write because he is unapologetically arrogant, but he is probably one of the most sensitive of all the characters. He deserves praise because he is an incredibly talented surgeon, but he is also an incredibly loyal friend. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for Tommy and Julie and in turn, they have adopted him as their brother. He is giving and sweet and the way he loves his girls is the stuff we dream about. I also love making him crazy with his flirty daughter.
Stephanie brought out a side to Jack that he always wanted but never dared to dream of. He wanted a family, but he never felt comfortable giving anyone his heart. He was completely confident on the outside and fragile on the inside. Stephanie cut right through his fears and instead of showing him pain, she gave him the greatest love he could ever know. Their two little daughters are the light of their lives and the older they get, the more Jack and Stephanie will grow. I would love adding to their family, but it might not be in the cards.
When I’m feeling private, like I just need to keep to myself, I write Brittany. When I think people have misunderstood me or have hurt me in a way I didn’t see coming, I write Tommy. When people get a joke that I didn’t find funny and I get irritated, I write Julie. When people make assumptions about me, I write Bill.
The part of me that stands up for the student who is being bullied and quietly diffuses the situation is Evan. The one who speaks her mind without always weighing the repercussions is Julie. The one people come to and tell their hopes and dreams is Stephanie.
The part of me that encourages my students to go after their dreams is Elizabeth. The one who takes a challenge and shows it who’s boss is Jack. The part of me who comforts a broken heart is Tommy. The part of me that never gets rattled, even when the world seems to be falling apart is Brittany.
But then there’s the personal side.
The friendships I have that have withstood the test of time are what created Mike and Bill. The relationships where my home was open to my friends and my parents were there for others became the basis for Tommy and Jack. The moment I met my best friend in kindergarten and we shared a butterfly cake is the moment Brittany and Stephanie were born. The constant struggle I have had with self image and esteem is the epitome of Jade. The connection I witnessed my whole life between my parents became the catalyst of every relationship I write. With love, anything is possible.
Family, to me, is everything. That doesn’t mean the family you were necessarily born with, but the people who you call when things are bad. They are the ones who you want to share your triumphs with and they will commiserate when life screws you over. They are the people you can sit and watch television with and not say a word. They are the ones who will make you smile when all hope is lost because as long as there is breath in their body, they would give it to you.
I have adored these characters; each and every one of them, and I feel deeply honored to have shared them with you. I look to the future and I see David trying to juggle the lives of his cousins and the humor in being the only boy. I see Naomi becoming someone amazing and showing all of the doctors that their faith in her was warranted. I see Josie following in her father’s footsteps and emulating everything he stood for. I see Tessa being as sensitive and unique as her mother and Sabrina being every bit of the spitfire her father is.
I see so much for these characters and I can’t imagine my life without them. I rarely pass a day where numerous scenarios don’t cross my mind and I talk to them about what I’m thinking.
I love Ron and Jenny and Elaine and the dynamic they have brought to the lives of each character. I miss the babies that have been lost and I feel each and every tragedy that my characters have endured.
I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for reading and sticking with me.
Thank you for allowing Brittany, an HIV positive woman to be so much more than a label.
Thank you for allowing Jack, an arrogant, womanizing Cardiac Surgeon to find his heart.
Thank you for allowing Tommy, a sensitive pediatric surgeon to discover the greatest love of his life.
Thank you for allowing Bill, a man who grew up only knowing pain and hate to discover the strength and power of love and family.
Thank you for allowing Julie, a young girl who lost her parents to grow up with the most amazing sense of hope.
Thank you for allowing Mike, a man who had his heart ripped out to find love again.
Thank you for allowing Jade, a shy and deeply wounded nurse to open her heart to wanting more.
Thank you for allowing Stephanie, a woman to finally hear her own worth over the taunts and scorns of an evil man.
Thank you for trusting these people with your time.